AskDefine | Define kirsch

Dictionary Definition

kirsch n : from fermented juice of black morello cherries

User Contributed Dictionary

see Kirsch



German kirschwasser, “cherry water”


  1. (often capitalized) A clear brandy made from black cherries: kirchwasser


  • Spanish: kirsch

Extensive Definition

Kirschwasser (), German for "cherry water", often known simply as Kirsch (from German "Kirsche" for "cherry") in the English-speaking world, is a clear brandy made from double distillation of the fermented juice of a small black cherry. It is colorless because either it is not aged in wood or it is aged in barrels made of ash. The cherries used recently can be either sweet or sour, but in the past the sour morello cherry was used with the stone crushed and included. As the morello cherry was originally grown all around the Black Forest in southern Germany, the drink is believed to have originated there.
Clear alcoholic beverages made from distilled fruit juices are common in southern Germany, western Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland. In addition to Kirschwasser, typical drinks of this sort include Obstler ("fruity", distilled from apple, or a mixture of apple and pear), Zwetschgenwasser ("plum water") and Himbeergeist ("raspberry spirit", made from grain spirit with unfermented raspberries added later, as fermented raspberries do not produce a good spirit). Such spirits are also distilled in France and French-speaking Switzerland, where they are known as eaux de vie ("waters of life", the same phrase that is the root of the words akvavit and whisky).
Unlike cherry liqueurs and many 'cherry brandies', Kirschwasser is not sweet. The best Kirschwassers have a highly refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry and a slight bitterness from the stone. Kirschwasser is used in many mixed drinks, such as the Lady Finger, Florida Cocktail, and Black Forest.
The European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume for eaux de vie, including Kirsch, but most Kirschwasser has an alcoholic content of 40%-50% ABV (80-100 proof). About 10 kilograms (20 pounds) of cherries go into making a 750 ml bottle of Kirschwasser.
Kirschwasser is sometimes drunk by itself. Traditionally, it is served cold in a very small glass and taken as an apéritif. However, people in the German-speaking regions where Kirschwasser originates would more usually serve it after dinner, and high-quality Kirschwasser would more likely be served at room temperature or warmed by the hands, like other brandies.

Usage in foods

"Kirsch" is an essential ingredient in Swiss cheese fondue and cake recipes. It is also used in traditional German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau), which is believed to have originated in the 16th century, and in other cake recipes — for example in Gugelhupf and Black Russian Cakes.
Kirsch can also be used in the filling of chocolate products. A typical portion of a kirsch chocolate will consist of no more than 1 milliliter of Kirsch, surrounded by milk or (more usually) dark chocolate, with a film of hardened sugar between the two. The sugar acts as a stronger casing for the liquid contents than the softer chocolate, and it also compensates for the lack of sweetness typical of Kirsch. Swiss chocolatiers Lindt & Sprüngli and Camille Bloch, among others, have such a product.


kirsch in Afrikaans: Kirsch
kirsch in German: Kirschwasser
kirsch in French: Kirsch
kirsch in Italian: Kirsch
kirsch in Hebrew: קירשווסר
kirsch in Dutch: Kirsch
kirsch in Japanese: キルシュヴァッサー
kirsch in Norwegian: Kirschwasser
kirsch in Narom: Qùierche
kirsch in Portuguese: Kirschwasser
kirsch in Russian: Киршвассер
kirsch in Swedish: Kirschwasser
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