Kirsch, short for the German Kirschwasser (cherry water), is an eau de vie (French for water of life, enough languages for you yet?) – a clear brandy made from fermented fruit, in this case cherries. Kirsch is a strong alcohol (typically over 80 proof), and unlike the sweet, strongly flavoured cherry liqueurs has a very subtle flavour.
A few months ago I picked a small bottle of Kirsch, and for the last few months it was been languishing in my drinks cupboard forgotten and unused. Somewhat like the ingredient itself has become these days – it rarely features in modern cocktail books. I came across the bottle again today and decided to try and find a few cocktails to test it out. A quick search at CocktailDB turned up a slew of recipes, two of which I chose to give a try: the Acacia and the Eider Duck.
A search around the internet for further information on either of these cocktails turned up absolutely nothing. Even a search on the man CocktailDB lists as the creator of the Eider Duck, C. A. Gadina, returned nothing. As a result, and not wanting to waste a lot of alcohol on drinks I may not like, I used half the amount I usually use for “a shot” (20ml/¾oz instead of 40ml/1½oz). This resulted in a smaller drink that was much closer in size to a traditional cocktail, rather than the larger modern variant.
- 1 shot gin
- ½ shot Bénédictine
- 1 dash Kirsch (I used one bar-spoon’s worth)
- Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass.
The herbal Bénédictine flavour features strongly in this drink, with the subtle cherry from the Kirsch only coming through towards the end. While I enjoyed it, I felt the sweet Bénédictine was a bit too prominent, making the drink somewhat one-dimensional. The idea of cherries, Bénédictine and gin is far better executed in a Singapore Sling – something for a future post. The Acacia needs something to take back the Bénédictine – a bit of citrus, lemon perhaps, might do the trick.
- ½ shot brandy
- ½ shot Grand Marnier
- ½ shot Kirsch
- ½ shot lemon juice
- Shake well with ice, fine strain in to a cocktail glass with lemon twist for garnish.
The Eider Duck has a very complex flavour, so much so that at first I didn’t really know what to make of it. The brandy taste comes through first, followed closely by the orange of the Grand Marnier. The lemon helps lift the drink giving it a tart, refreshing edge. The Kirsch comes out last as an after-taste which leaves cherry and a slight burn lingering for quite some time.
The initial taste reminded me a lot of the Sidecar, and it was only then it occurred to me that the recipe is very similar to an equal-parts Sidecar with Kirsch added. The extra brandy-based spirits in the Eider Duck gives it a warmer taste compared to the Sidecar, but overall I think the Sidecar is a more balanced drink.
My search for a decent Kirsch based cocktail has left me slightly disappointed. Both the drinks I tried sounded nice on paper, but the Acacia was far too sweet and the Eider Duck while nice was just a bit too on the warm side. Anyone else have any good Kirsch based cocktails?
If you liked this, the barman recommends...