The drink is made by preserving yellow raisins (sultanas) in spiced brandy. The Dutch have been distilling and trading brandy for so long that the English word for brandy actually comes from the Dutch brandewijn or 'burnt wine', which refers to the method of distillation. The art of distillation can be traced back to antiquity, but it was being used in the Netherlands as a means to preserve wine by the Middle Ages. The brandy itself was often used for fruit preservation.
Brandied raisins were traditionally served at country weddings, where the bride would scoop it into little glasses from a large silver, earthenware or glass vessel. For this reason, the drink is sometimes called bruidstranen ('bride's tears'). Boerenjongens are also popular on other festive occasions, such as Christmas or birthdays. The drink is usually presented in a clear glass with a tiny spoon or fork to scoop out the macerated fruit. The brandy-soaked sultanas are also added to puddings and other treats.