Most grandmas bake cookies, but this grandma makes vodka with a kick. Hedy Hintz, or Oma as she is more commonly referred to, has been making her cherry infused vodka since she emigrated to Michigan from her native Germany back in 1952. And now her incredible vodka is available in stores throughout the Midwest.
At 92 years-old, Oma has lived a life unlike most. Born in Germany in 1925, she grew up in the beautiful German countryside, but her life was forever changed when World War II gripped her homeland. She recalls the Germans fighting the Polish army very close to her house and having to take cover in the woods as bullets screamed overhead. She was left with no choice but to leave her home when the Russians were advancing on German soil.
By 1952, Oma was a young woman who saw better opportunities in the United States. Having never spoken a word of English, she emigrated to Michigan; picking up English lessons and odd jobs along the way to make ends meet. She soon met her husband and started a family in Lansing, where she still lives today.
Kyle Miller, Oma’s grandson and CEO of Oma’s Spirits, says because of her vodka “she was a legend” in college as “everyone wanted Oma’s vodka.” Miller worked tirelessly to reproduce the recipe, which uses real Traverse City cherries, and with Oma’s approval from a blind taste test, it is now available to the masses. “This is her family recipe…her grandfather in Germany would make it…and if Oma approves of something it means you’re on to something special.”
Miller explains that the key to success is maintaining not only the recipe, but the legacy of all that Oma stands for. With vodka distilled in Illinois, the cherries are infused over a span of three weeks “providing a smooth, lush, and rich cherry flavor.” Oma’s life lessons to work hard, save well, and be grateful for health and family are within every bottle, he says.
When asked if Oma has been enjoying the spotlight he jokes she “signed a bottle of vodka for some ladies at church and thought that was a lot of fun.” The vodka is now available in stores in Michigan and Illinois, and can also be purchased online at omasspirits.com