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With the U.S. holiday season soon upon us, I've been anxious to start making my annual batches of Leckerli cookies (a Swiss cookie, flavored with cloves and candied citrus!).

However, disaster has struck. I am out of Kirsch, and can't find another bottle locally! I think I bought the original in Boston, when I lived there... but rural Maine doesn't offer the same grocery opportunities.

So, my question is, does anyone know of a reasonable substitute for Kirsch? It's basically a cherry liqueur, just not sweet like a liqueur. "Cherry brandy" might be a better description.

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I haven't tried real Kirsch and so I don't know if the taste is close, but you could try soaking dried cherries in brandy - you'll end up with cherry-flavored brandy and brandy-flavored cherries. –  user5561 Oct 29 '12 at 4:10
    
Rumtscho's answer reminded me that for my Christmas Stollen, I soak my raisins and candied fruit in warmed Southern Comfort to bring out the fruit flavors. –  Kristina Lopez Oct 29 '12 at 16:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would use any uncolored brandy made from distilled fruit. Himbeergeist, sliwowitz, or what you can lay your hands on.

Kirsch doesn't taste much like cherries, and I suspect that it functions more as a solvent for some of the aroma in the spices than for adding its own taste. Even though it does contribute a bit, the taste will be subtle, and other slight fruity notes from a different fruit brandy will blend with the heavy spices just as well.

In a pinch, you could use a colored brandy too, like Chantre. But it will add more of its own flavor, and while it can make a good combination, it will be further from the original than a random obstwasser.

I would avoid any liqueurs, they will add way too much foreign taste, and also won't have enough alcohol to solve the spices in the same way.

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Ah, thanks! I'm pretty sure I can lay my hands on some good brandy. I was worried that I'd miss the cherry, but now that your answer makes me consider it, yeah, you don't really get cherry tones, you get more of the candied citrus. Thanks for the explanation, too. –  OrangeWombat Oct 29 '12 at 11:20
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On a second thought, I removed the grappa suggestion, as it will probably bring in too much of its own sharp flavor. A milder flavor will be better in this case. –  rumtscho Oct 29 '12 at 17:32

Maybe Maraschino liqueur? not the stuff that comes with clown nose cherries in it, but the real stuff. If your local liquor store sells kirsch, they might sell this. Luxardo is the brand I buy.

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if his local liquor store sold kirsch, he wouldn't be asking this question! –  TJ Ellis Oct 29 '12 at 17:47
    
The question is a substitute for kirsch that his local store may have. Luxardo fits the bill. –  franko Nov 1 '12 at 0:21

I haven't tried it, but I have a cherry Grand Marnier that tastes divine. Let me know how you liked it. I live in Paris. I'm not sure you can get it in the U.S., but if you can you should try it.

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the closest thing to Kirsch is domestic Moonshine.

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No, not at all. –  Carey Gregory Nov 20 '13 at 0:44

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