Deutsch: Kirschwasser / Español: Kirschwasser / Português: Kirschwasser / Français: Kirsch / Italiano: Kirschwasser

Kirschwasser, commonly known as kirsch, is a clear, colorless brandy traditionally made from double-distillation of morello cherries, a type of sour cherry. The name "Kirschwasser" is German for "cherry water," reflecting its origins and primary ingredient.


Kirschwasser is notable for its distinctive cherry flavor, which is potent yet subtly sweet with a slightly bitter undertone due to the inclusion of the cherry pits in the distillation process. This brandy does not contain any added sugar, which differentiates it from cherry liqueurs that are typically sweeter. Kirschwasser is most commonly associated with German and Swiss cuisines, where it is both a popular digestif and a culinary ingredient.

Application Areas

Kirschwasser is used in several culinary contexts:

  • Baking and Desserts: Frequently used in desserts like the famous Black Forest cake, where it enhances the cherry flavor.
  • Cocktails: Employed in various cocktails requiring a clear fruit brandy with a subtle cherry note.
  • Cooking: Sometimes used in savory dishes that pair well with its clear and crisp cherry flavor.

Well-Known Examples

The most iconic use of Kirschwasser is in the Black Forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), which layers chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries, and a generous amount of Kirschwasser.


Black Forest Cake Recipe: Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Kirschwasser
  • 2 cups whipped cream
  • 1 cup cherries (pitted and halved)
  • Additional whipped cream and chocolate shavings for decoration


  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Pans: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Combine Dry and Wet Ingredients: Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  5. Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  6. Assemble with Kirschwasser: Once cooled, brush each cake layer with Kirschwasser. Spread whipped cream over the first layer, then top with half of the cherries. Place the second cake layer on top and repeat with cream and cherries.
  7. Decorate: Frost the outside of the cake with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.
  8. Serve: Chill the cake before serving to allow the flavors to meld beautifully.


Kirschwasser is a versatile spirit used both as a beverage and a culinary component, particularly cherished in German and Swiss traditions for its robust, clear cherry flavor that complements both sweet and savory dishes. Its use in the iconic Black Forest cake is perhaps the best example of its integral role in classic European desserts.


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