OK, I'm late. I usually post about my annual holiday liqueur, but I was just crazy busy this year. Here it is now as promised. For those of you who got a bottle without an actual ingredient tag, You can print it up from here.
In my second Sommelier post in NYC, we inherited a cellar full of the most terrible assortment of inexpensive spirits which should never have been brought into any restaurant desiring more than a star in the New York Times reviews. Chef was just going to throw them out, and I volunteered to turn them into something useable, or at the very least, promo-able to regular guests or irate customers (of which there were very few). Cheap gin became Lemon Anisette, a decrepit bottle of eau de vie became a Raspberry-Lime cordial, an obscure bottle of Marc de Champagne became "Love Potion 33," an infusion of Hawthorn Berries and Rose Petals with Strawberries and Gold Dust that swirled and pulsed in the bottle as if an impish spirit had been trapped in the bottle. But the one that grabbed the attention of several critics was my Cranberry Kirschwasser. It was a leftover bottle of Massenez Kirsch blended with organic cranberry juice, white creme de cacao liqueur, and sugar. After a shot of this (and the better part of a bottle of Vacqueyras), she proceeded to buy a round of liqueurs for the next table, and then to arm wrestle them over their dinner checks.
The recipe is rather simple, if you're patient, and makes rather a lot....I use it for Christmas Gifts. The acidity is bright, and purifying. Depending on the strength of your Kirschwasser, you can adjust flavors to your own tastes, and it's rather harsh the first few days, but mellows with age.
2 -750ml bottles Kirschwasser
––(my personal preference is Steve McCarthy's Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon)
300ml White Creme de Cacao Liqueur
––(any brand, but DeKuyper or Marie Brizard are most suitable)
––(any brand, organic is better)
750ml by volume superfine (bar) cane sugar
1- 32oz bottle of Lakewood Organic Black Cherry Juice (NOT Juice Blend).
1 - teaspoon Organic Vegetable Glycerin
2 - teaspoons Organic Vanilla Extract
Combine the Liqueur and Juice Concentrate and make a syrup of an equal part (600 ml/about 3.5 cups) of sugar. Combine remaining sugar with the Cherry Juice, and reserve for adjusting flavor (this should be about a liter). Combine Kirschwasser and 750 ml of the syrup in a large pot or dispensing jar. Add vanilla. Stir well, and allow to rest at least overnight, up to 3 days if tightly sealed.
Add 500ml of the sweetened cherry juice and the glycerin. Stir and let rest another day, stirring several times during the wait.
Add additional cherry juice and/or sugar until desired strength is desired (my last batch used a rather potent Kirschwasser and I ended up using about 3/4 of the sweetened juice). It will still be rather harsh at this point, as the cranberry may need several weeks to fully incorporate, but is suitable for bottling once the desired strength is achieved.
Try pouring over ice cream (affogato style), or serving with fresh chocolate-cherry chunk cookies. It also makes an interesting addition to a classic Manhattan cocktail, or a simple digestif after a traditional duck dinner!