Shingo Gokan & 1923 – One of Heering´s 200 year

Words by: Theodora Sutcliffe

Japanese schoolchildren remember 1923 for the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that shattered Tokyo, killing at least 140,000 people and causing a 12-metre tsunami. But Shingo Gokan, the Japanese bartender who made his name at Angel’s Share, New York, and now owns China’s best bar, Speak Low, chose to commemorate a very different anniversary.

“The original Cherry Blossom cocktail is a very classic drink in Japan – it’s actually the oldest and most famous classic drink that was born in Japan,” Gokan says. “Not many Japanese cocktails are famous globally, but this cocktail has been in the Savoy Cocktail Book since 1930.”

While nobody knows the year that Tasaburo Tao created the original Cherry Blossom, he opened his bar, the Café de Paris, in Yokohama in 1923. Like Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, it remains in the family even now.

Yokohama was Japan’s first international port, and bars and bartenders – among them Louis Eppinger, considered one of the fathers of Japanese bartending – arrived in the city long before they came to Tokyo. “In the 1910s and the 1920s, a lot of cruise ships came from the US and the UK,” Gokan says. “That’s how we got our cocktail culture.”

By the time Tao created his drink, the cherry blossom, or sakura, had been a cultural icon in Japan for centuries. “It’s iconic, not only for the flower, but it’s an iconic plant, an iconic activity, an iconic colour,” Gokan explains. “In the spring we celebrate when the sakura blooms by having parties under the sakura trees – it’s a very important activity.”

To reimagine Tao’s creation, Gokan combined a range of different recipes, then added a couple of contemporary twists: a tonka bean infusion and a milk wash. “Sakura petals and tonka beans have a very similar flavour, and when Japanese people try tonka bean for the first time, it usually reminds us of sakura,” he says. “We have a very traditional sakura dessert called sakura mochi, which is a sticky rice cake, and when you add the milk to the cocktail you get a milky note like sakura mochi.”

Gokan started work when he was 18, in his home town not far from Yokohama. Rather than follow the traditional apprenticeship system, he got a job in a high-volume restaurant bar and began to teach himself cocktails on the side. “The first cocktail that I made from a recipe was a Singapore Sling: that was the first time I made a cocktail by myself,” he recalls.

By the time he turned 20, Gokan was head bartender in a local bar. Aged 23, he headed to New York to make his fortune – despite only speaking Japanese. He joined Angel’s Share, one of the city’s oldest and best regarded secret bars, in 2006 – and would remain involved with the bar for a decade.

While Angel’s Share hired him for his Japanese bartending technique, Gokan considers his style hybrid. “I’m trying to combine American style and Japanese style,” he says. “My international bartender friends say I’m very Japanese, but my friends in Japan say I’m very Western style.”

Winning the Bacardí Legacy cocktail competition in 2012 transformed Gokan’s career. “After I won the Legacy I started travelling all over the world. I had a guest bartendership at the Savoy, lots of countries and cities asked me for partnerships and guest partnerships,” he says. “Now competitions are everywhere, and everyone is travelling a lot, but at that time not many people were doing that much travel: it was very good timing.”

With the help of two separate sets of backers, one Asia-based and one in the US, Gokan has a stake in an impressive number of venues. He launched Speak Low, the turbo-charged French Concession speakeasy that stands at number 10 on the World’s 50 Best list, in Shanghai in 2014; Sober Company followed in 2017, and is now home to four distinct venues. Gokan’s first Tokyo venture, SG Club, should launch in May, while there are plans for a New York bar in a couple of years.

Gokan is impressed by how the Chinese bar scene has developed since he opened Speak Low. “The Chinese economy is pretty good, so every month there are new bars opening – not just in Shanghai, but everywhere in China,” he says, noting that bartending is now seen as a fashionable career in the Middle Kingdom. “Proof & Company came to China last year, and they’re raising the level of education. DRiNK magazine China did the Bar Awards last year, and it’s actually bigger than Tales of the Cocktail! It was huge!”

Yet, while Gokan admires Singapore’s bartending scene immensely, he feels it will be a while before China catches up with Japan. “The bar culture is still very new,” he says. “In Japan, cocktail culture is more than 100 years old: we’ve polished our skills and created our own ways.”

Sakura 1923

Cherry Heering 30ml

Rye-cognac sous-vide tonka bean blend 30ml

Sweet vermouth 15ml

Curacao 15ml
Lemon juice 10ml
Milk (for clarification) 15ml

Method: Cook equal parts Rye & Cognac sous-vide with tonka beans, add the cherry heering, vermouth, curacao, lemon juice and the milk, then it curdles, then you strain it, then get a completely clear liquid, so that’s the final product. After you’ve clarified everything, you pour into the mixing glass, stir it, strain into chilled glass.
Glass: Coupe

Garnish = salted sakura petal, very common ingredient in Japan. Sakura petal are normally soaked in salt to preserve them and keep their freshness, it’s a common product in Japan, not home made.

Rogerio Igarashi Vaz & 1999 – One of Heering´s 200 year

Words by: Maggie Beale

The precision and perfection in every action of a true Japanese bartender has become an art form to be watched by the rest of the world.

In the milieu of highly crafted mixology, the art of Japanese bartending has greatly influenced many other styles. Most probably by its unparalleled attention to detail and finely tuned techniques, as much as by the development of more elegant products and sophisticated bar tools.

This is surely the case of Brazilian Rogerio Igarashi Vaz. Of Japanese stock, he has been living in Japan now for 23 years and mixing drinks in Tokyo for over 15 years. From learning his craft in Tokyo – and being eager to know more – Rogerio has also been guest bartender in Brazil, London, Hong Kong and Moscow.

Co-founder and Chief Bartender of Bar Tram and Bar Trench in Japan, the latter of which was chosen as one of the World’s 100 Best Bars in 2014, Rogerio incorporates some South American vibe into his drinks – creating an enticing blend of East and West.

He explains, “Japan has a strong cocktail base with its own styles and techniques. And the majority of proper cocktail bars can be quite formal. My mission is to make cocktails as sociable as possible and approachable to everyone by showing Japanese customers the FUN of cocktail drinking.”

He introduces the fun part of cocktails by twisting old world cocktails into re-imagined modern versions, sometimes using unlikely ingredients – such as bacon and seaweed.

Commenting on the latest trends in Japan, Rogerio says, “Not so long ago we could see garnishes going crazy, not only in size but in creativity as well. It was part of the fun. But, now more and more I can see that garnishes are getting smaller and smaller or there’s even a trend towards ‘no garnish’. Nowadays, the bars are focusing much more on the serve inside the glass than the presentation outside the glass.”

As with all Japanese bars, there are no large venues such as we find in Western countries – usually these are small bars tucked away discretely down side streets. And, true to the genre, Rogerio’s Bar Trench is located in a small back alley in the Ebisu area of Tokyo alongside its sister venue, the Bar Tram.

The two bars are the only dedicated absinthe and whiskey bars in Tokyo. The interior of both places were inspired by the American 1920’s – the era of the speakeasy complete with dim lighting and suitable music. And, to add to the magic, the atmosphere is further enhanced by bartenders immaculately dressed in uniforms from that era.

Rogerio is a devoted absinthe aficionado, and he sees his mission is to educate and illuminate others about ‘la fée verte’ (the green fairy). Therefore his bars have an impressive selection of absinthe from over ten countries around the world. And to add to the mystique – they are served the traditional way with absinthe fountains, spoons and other accoutrements.

He says, “Bar Trench has been a retreat not only for Tokyo locals but also for cocktail lovers from all over the globe since it opened in 2010. Even though Trench is known for its absinthe, on the menu you can find cocktails for all tastes.”

The drinks menu is expansive with both original and American inspired cocktails; and a whisky list that is on par or better than many American bars. The bartenders are well versed in all standard cocktails and will create concoctions to suit or enhance a customer’s preferences.

To celebrate Cherry Heering’s 200th anniversary, Rogerio says his cocktail ‘End That Didn’t End’ – was inspired by the year 1999.

“1999 was the year the World was predicted to end by Nostradamus, many preachers and cult leaders around the world including The Amazing Criswell and Kabbalah Centre’s Phillip Berg – and even my mom predicted the end of the world.”

Revealing also, “It was the year that the Euro was established; and also the year a total solar eclipse occurred in August. The Power Mac G4 was released then. And Bill Gates became the wealthiest man on earth and the sci-fi film Matrix was showing in movie theatres. It seemed as if the Future and the End were all happening together within the same year!”

To bring a sense of the Japanese cocktail culture from that period, he says, “In the 90’s in Japan, creamy cocktails were the ongoing trend. My idea is to bring a little essence of the 90’s by using ice cream and the fruity and nutty tastes of Heering together with the latest trendy spirit, Mezcal into the mix – based on Harry Craddock’s 1930’s White Cargo cocktail.”

Adding, he says, “Cherry Heering was the first product to be imported by Suntory in 1899. So, it is more than 100 years that Cherry Heering has been around the bars of Japan. One of the few Japanese cocktails that became well known outside of Japan then is the Cherry Blossom cocktail (brandy, Cherry Heering, dry curacao, lemon, grenadine). The drink was invented by Tao Tazaburo, owner of the Paris Bar in Yokohama in the 1920’s. This recipe also appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book.”


30ml Mezcal Vida

15ml Noilly Prat

15ml Cherry Heering

1 Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream

Method: Blend all ingredients with a small scoop of crushed ice and fine strain into chilled coupette.

Garnish: grated nutmeg

Glass: coupe

Heering; at Food By Munk “Japanese cherry blossom cocktail”

While its not cherry blossom season in japan yet, i find this little creation of mine has the flare of christmas. It’s 2 main ingredients are sake (Japanese rice wine) and cherry heering (Danish cherry liquor).
Japanese cherry blossom cocktail

• 4 parts sake
• 1 part cherry heering
• 1 part fresh lime juice
• 1/2 part simple sirup
• dash of bitters
Shake with lots of ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Heering World Championship 2009 Global Winners

Press release

Heering World Championship 2009 Global Winners Announced in Singapore

Greece and Japan take top honors at the finale for the 2009 Heering World Championship in Fashion Mixing and Drink Designing

June 4/2009: The Peter F. Heering Company today announced the winner of The Heering World Championship in Fashion Mixing and Drink Designing 2009 from The Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the home of the famous Singapore Sling. The global mixology and fashion competition, inspired by Cherry Heering® liqueur, the original Danish Cherry Brandy since 1818 took place from June 3 – June 4 in Singapore, combining Cocktail Mixology and Fashion Designing. Top talent from around the world competed with the winning Heering-inspired cocktail recipe being awarded to Mr. Eiji Miyazawa from Japan and the winning Heering-inspired cocktail dress awarded to Mr. Loukas-Athanasios Alifraghis of Greece.
Apart from the honor and international exposure of winning The Heering World Championship 2009, Mr. Miyazawa will now have his own cocktail book created together with Peter F. Heering. Mr. Alifraghis will be awarded his own runway show at the internationally acclaimed Copenhagen Fashion Week (Spring/Summer 2010).
“We are very happy about the response this competition have had across the world. The number of participants, and the high quality submissions from both the young mixologists and designers finding inspiration from a traditional brand like Peter F. Herring show us that Heering, as it has been since 1818, still is a fashion accessory. We are also very happy to support and give face to young talent, both from the mixology and fashion arena”, says CEO Adele Nilsson of Peter F. Herring in a comment.
More than 10.000 participants worldwide submitted their contributions to The Heering World Championship 2009, from more than 100 countries ranging across the globe. Of these, 15 countries qualified directly and through the open class and were represented at the global final at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore of the bi-annual competition, including the US, Italy, Greece, Japan, France, Germany, UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Benelux, Singapore and Denmark. There was also an “Open Class” including Russia, Estonia, Iceland, Thailand, Argentina, Venezuela, Dubai, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal and Mongolia.
The esteemed jury for mixology and fashion included:

The Heering World Championship 2009 – Mixologys Jury

• Ricky Broni – Owner of the internationally acclaimed gourmet restaurant Mården, Stockholm
• Fredrik Tilander – Owner of The Peter F Heering Liqueur Company
• Clinton Ang – Cornerstone Wines, Singapore
• Camper English, US Mixologist/Writer, San Francisco Chronicle and Imbibe Magazine
• Derrick Lee – President of The International Bartender Association
• Jean-Marc Poli – Hotel Manager, Raffles Hotel
• Ms Chan Yoke Kwan, Assistant Director Tourism Shopping & Dining – The Singapore Tourism Board

The Heering World Championship 2009 – Fashion Jury

• Lars Wallin – Internationally acclaimed maestro of Swedish haute couture
• Jörgen Tilander – Owner of The Peter F Heering Liqueur Company
• Rebecca Howard – renowned fashion and beauty journalist;
The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Glamour, You Magazine
• Sharon Lim – Editor-In-Chief, Elle Singapore
• Amy Molyneaux – Designer at British fashion emporium PPQ
• Percy Parker – Designer at British fashion emporium PPQ
• Nicholas Wong – Celebrated designer at Nicholas, Singapore

The Singapore qualifying rounds for The Heering World Championship 2009 were an online experience at, with one design and mixology winner being selected to compete in the global Grand Finale taking place locally at the legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore on June 4th, 2009.
Cherry Heering searched for the top mixologists who could create a unique cocktail recipe inspired by a cocktail dress designed by Swedish top designer Lars Wallin for The Heering World Championship 2009 and for designers who could create a cocktail dress inspired by one of six Cherry Heering cocktails, created by Scandinavian world class mixologist Richard Broni. In addition, mixologist entrants were able to select a specially designed glassware piece from The House of Orrefors to accompany to their Cherry Heering inspired cocktail recipe.
The high profile The Heering World Championship juries from around the world selected the best of the best to come to Singapore. Juries from spanning the globe includes such notable mixology and fashion talents such as PPQ (UK) – cutting edge designers Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker of British fashion emporium PPQ, Charlotte Ronson (US), whose collection gained instant recognition and the attention of renowned publications such as Vogue, Elle, Teen Vogue, WWD and the New York Times and Derrick Lee (SINGAPORE), President, International Bartenders Association (IBA)

Orchard’s Knight
Created by Mr. Eiji Miyazawa

2,5 cl Heering Cherry Liqueur
1,5 cl Calvados Boulard Grand Solage
1 cl X-rated
0,5 cl De Kuyper Butterscotch Caramel
0,5 cl Fresh Lime Juice
Cinnamon Powder
Raisin with a branch

The winning dress by Mr. Loukas-Athanasios Alifraghis was inspired by the Dramatic cocktail

The Finalists – Heering World Championship in Fashion Mixing and Drink Designing

The Heering World Championship 2009 Partners
• Orrefors Kosta Boda, the high-end ornamental glass manufacturer had their globally recognized designed glassware front and center of the Heering World Championship in Fashion Mixing and Drink Designing 2009.
• Singapore Airlines “The world’s most awarded airline” flew the participants with style and comfort to Singapore.
• The Raffles Hotel, The home of the Singapore Sling and the legendary hotel hosted the participants of the Heering World Championship in Fashion Mixing and Drink Designing 2009.
• The Singapore Tourism Board
• The Cornerstones Wines

CHERRY HEERING® liqueur, purveyor to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and to the Royal Danish Court, has been produced since 1818 and is the original “Cherry Brandy.” Cherry Heering liqueur is sold in more than 100 countries all over the world and is the essential ingredient in the world famous Singapore Sling and Blood and Sand cocktails. For more information go to:

Japan finals for the Heering World Championship

Japan has had its national competition in order to find a representatvie to send to the Singapore finals in the Heering World Championship. Many beautiful cocktails were created, click on the images for a closer look.

Press release: Cherry Heering blossoms in DC


Famous Cherry Liqueur Makes a Fashionable Springtime Return Amongst the Backdrop of the Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival

March — 2009 (Miami, FL) — Spring begins with CHERRY HEERING cocktails taking center stage at some of the most established bars throughout Washington DC and surrounding areas. Some of DC’s top mixologist have created many delicious CHERRY HEERING cocktails inspired by The National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual two-week event that celebrates springtime in Washington, DC. The festival also celebrates the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.

CHERRY HEERING liqueur, created in Denmark, is purveyor to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and to the Royal Danish Court is the original “Cherry Brandy.” CHERRY HEERING liqueur is sold in more than 100 countries all over the world and is the essential ingredient in the world famous Singapore Sling and Blood and Sand cocktails.

CHERRY HEERING liqueur is extremely mixable and can be enjoyed straight or on the rocks. World class Scandinavian mixologist Richard Broni created the Cherry Blossom cocktail that is the perfect libation to commemorate this special time of year.

Cherry Blossom Cocktail
• 1 part Cherry Heering
• 1 part Cherry Puree
• 1 part Champagne
• Topped off with drops of Rosewater

Cherry Heering cocktails on display in some of the finest establishments
in our Nation’s Capital this Spring include:

• Ici Urban Bistro (806 15th Street NW, located inside the trendy Sofitel Hotel in Lafayette Square)

o The Cherrilicious Cocktail, a mix of Cherry Heering liqueur, rum, simple syrup, and lemon juice and topped with sparkling vodka, will be available for $14

• Jackson 20 (480 King Street, Alexandria, VA)

o The Bloom cocktail at this Old Town restaurant is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, guava nectar, Cherry Heering liqueur, and muddled ginger for $11

• Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave NW)

o Alice Gaber has an assortment of drinks including The Cherry Bomb, which incorporates Cherry Heering liqueur with sparkling wine ($12.50)

For more information about CHERRY HEERING liqueur please visit

More about the National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, coordinates the schedule and raises funds to offer cultural and community-based events that are free and open to the public. Contributions to the National Cherry Blossom Festival are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

About Kindred Spirits North America, Inc.

Based in Miami, Kindred Spirits, Inc. brand portfolio includes premium spirits brands, Gran Duque De Alba Spanish Brandy, Crema de Alba, Cherry Heering liqueur, Xante liqueur, Martin Miller’s Gin, Malt Trust Single Barrel Cask Whiskies and the famous Dry Sack Sherries from Spain, produced by Williams & Humbert.

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