Kirschwasser, German for “cherry water” and often shortened to Kirsch in English-speaking countries, is a colorless brandy made from black morello cherries and their pits.
The morello cherries are fermented “complete,” which means with the pit or stone still in place. Kirsch is a double-distilled liqueur.
Kirsch, unlike generic cherry brandies and liqueurs, does not taste sweet. The subtle cherry flavor is mingled with a slightly bitter-tasting almond taste, which comes from the pits.
Kirschwasser is traditionally served cold and neat, meaning the liqueur is chilled in the bottle and served in a glass with no mixers and no ice. Some people prefer to enjoy Kirsch served at room temperature or hand-warmed in a brandy snifter.
Kirsch is used to create several cocktails, including the Florida Cocktail, Black Forest, Major Tom and Lady Finger.
Kirsch is a featured and required ingredient in both Black Forest Cake and Swiss cheese fondue. The liqueur is also used as a filling in certain types of chocolate candies, including those made by Swiss chocolatier Lindt, and dramatically set aflame in the dessert known as Cherries Jubilee.