I picked up a small bottle of a new ingredient today, and decided to play around with it a little bit tonight. I'm frankly kind of disappointed in it, but since it was a little bottle (not a 50ml sample, but nowhere near full size) I'm not out too much money, only about $4.50 or so. I will survive.
The ingredient is kirsch, also known as kirschwasser. It's a cherry brandy of sorts...it's not sweet, as other fruit brandies frequently are. Truth be told, it tastes remarkably similar to it's cousin, maraschino liqueur...it's got a sort of funk that stems, in part from being fermented (or macerated, in the case of maraschino) with the skins and stones. Kirsch is typically made from Morello cherries, rather than the eponymous Maraska cherries of maraschino, but they're remarkably similar in taste...the big difference is that the kirsch is a lot drier, not being a liqueur.
Anyway, I mixed it with two drinks tonight both of which sound like they could be from 1950s B-grade sci-fi movies; one drink fared far better than the other...let's get to them, shall we?
Blackthorn CocktailEh. It's not a fantastic drink...it's still orders of magnitude better than what you'd find at your local fraternity dive bar, but it really strikes me as one dimensional. The kirsch and the Dubonnet run together (which surprises me), and it's left as being ginny with some unnameable-but-rather-sweet fruit flavor floating in the background.
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz Dubonnet rouge
1/2 oz kirsch
stir all in a mixing glass with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Our second drink proved to be rather better than this one.
Cat's Eye CocktailThis one is not nearly as sweet or boring...the lemon juice and dry vermouth keeps it more balanced, and the tiny bit of orange you get from the Cointreau works very well with the cherry and almond notes the kirsch brings to the drink.
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz kirsch
dash lemon juice
stir all with ice in a mixing glass, strain into chilled cocktail glass.