What is Kirsch Liqueur?

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What is Kirsch Liqueur?
(Photo by Mahlum, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain License)

Kirsch, German for "cherry water" and often shortened to Kirsch in English-speaking countries, is a colourless brandy made from black morello cherries and their pits.

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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 flavour is mingled with a slightly bitter-tasting almond taste, which comes from the pits.

Served Neat

Kirsch 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.

In Food

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.

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