Created in 1937 using one of the author’s favorite ingredients
Ernest Hemingway liked his drinks. A lot.
He also liked bullfights – and bullfighters. So a friend decided to create a cocktail in honor of Hemingway and one of his matador pals.
Knowing that Hemingway was particularly fond of kirschwasser (cherry brandy), the mix-master made kirsch a star ingredient in the new cocktail. He wound up with a refreshing drink that’s sort of like a Kirsch Collins. Perfect for chasing away summer’s heat.
Recipe: A Farewell to Hemingway Cocktail
Kirschwasser (aka kirsch) is dry cherry brandy. It’s most commonly served neat, in small glasses, as a pre- or post-dinner drink. But it also makes a wonderful cocktail ingredient.
We learned about this drink from Philip Greene’s To Have and Have Another, an excellent guide to the world of cocktails that Hemingway enjoyed.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2¼ ounces kirschwasser
- 1½ ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice (you may prefer a bit less)
- ¼ ounce raspberry or cherry syrup (see Notes)
- ~1 ounce chilled club soda or seltzer water (to taste)
- garnish of lime peel or wedge (optional)
- Place the kirschwasser, lime juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are chilled (about 20 seconds).
- Strain the contents into a Collins or highball glass filled with ice. Top up with sparkling water. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- What kind of cocktail calls for exactly 2 and a quarter ounces? Well, this one. Really, the extra ¼ ounce does help balance the drink.
- Kirschwasser means “cherry water” in German. It’s a clear brandy made from cherries and has a dry flavor. Kirsch is somewhat similar to Cherry Heering (which is sweeter) or maraschino liqueur (which has a different flavor profile). But kirschwasser has a taste all its own, so there’s really no substitute for it in this drink.
- Because the flavor of kirsch dominates this cocktail, it’s important to use one that’s good quality. The best kirschwasser brands tend to be imported – Germany produces some good ones. Avoid any kirsch that costs under $20 (or really under $30); it probably won’t taste very good.
- You can buy raspberry (or cherry) syrup, but it’s easy to make your own. See our post on The Clover Club Cocktail for instructions on making your own raspberry syrup.
- This drink was created by Charles Henry Baker, a friend of Hemingway. Baker is best known for his two-volume book The Gentleman’s Companion, which covers food and drink (and includes a couple of Hemingway’s cocktail recipes).
- Baker invented this drink in Coconut Grove, Florida, for Hemingway and his bullfighting friend Sidney Franklin one January night in 1937. The pair were en route to Madrid, where Hemingway would report on the Spanish Civil War.
- Baker said there was “no reason” for this drink. He knew Hemingway loved kirschwasser, and it was a “hot, muggy night.” So Baker created a “sort of Kirsch Collins.” Inspired stuff, we say.
Facing the Bull
“The cocktail is a fine thing,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And worth fighting for.”
“All you have to do is mix one true drink,” I said. “Mix the truest drink you know.”
“This drink makes me feel superior to my former self,” said Mrs K R.
“Every day holding the cocktail shaker is a good day,” I said.
“In order to write about drinking, first you must drink,” said Mrs K R.
“But we should drink no more than two of these,” I said. “Lest we run across the river and into the trees.”
“More than two would mean death in the afternoon,” said Mrs K R.
And a farewell to Riffs.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Clover Club Cocktail
Death in the Afternoon Cocktail
Hemingway Daiquiri Cocktail
Straits Sling Cocktail
Tom Collins Cocktail
Classic Daiquiri Cocktail
Cuba Libre Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
Love this drin and the color. A great dedication cocktail. And I really want some Kirschwasser! But I am going to be in Germany this summer :-)
Hi Evelyne, Germany is a great place to buy kirsch! This is a lovely summer drink -- you need to try it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
He did love his cocktails didn't he? This one is a beauty!
Hi Pam, pretty, isn't it? And really tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That's a stunning cocktail. I love the colour so much.
We had a bottle of very authentic Kirchwasser -- gift from a European friend -- but eventually we drank it up sort of one dram at a time. Now maybe we should buy more.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.om
Hi Angie, raspberry syrup really adds color to cocktails. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, you probably should buy more. :-) Thanks for the comment.
A dry cherry brandy sounds amazing. The color is even better! I could drink way too many of these cocktails :)
Have never had anything like this before and can't wait to try this. This last week we have come upon one of the most well stocked liquor stores we have ever seen. Now we can try all of your delicious ideas. Beautiful shot John!
Hi Ashley, the color is all raspberry syrup. And yes, the flavor of kirsch is terrific. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bobbi, always important to find a decent liquor store. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That is a very pretty drink. Looks and sounds like the perfect way to end the day. A seat under the fans on the screened porch listening to the frogs and crickets sing. I can see myself trying this tonight!
Hi Anne, this is a great screened porch drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Also clever word play! Was trying to work in how after drinking a couple the hills might look like white elephants, but since it is the middle of summer and everything is green it just would not do.
Is this the perfect summertime cocktail or what? In the afternoon I usually make a black cherry seltzer so I can see substituting it ( once in a while) with this cocktail. Have never had cherry brandy but it sounds wonderful! Thanks John!
Hi MJ, kirschwasser is good stuff. :-) Like the idea of black cherry seltzer! Thanks for the comment.
Ha ha,I can see your reference to Gertrude Stein-in search on "one true sentence." I'm sure Alice B. Toklas would also approve of this cocktail?
Hi Fran, we had fun writing that ending. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is absolutely beautiful, and I know I'd love the flavor. Thank you Hemingway. ;-)
OMG I love the color. It would be great for a ladies' reunion.
Hi Valentina, we can thank Hemingway for many, many drinks. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, color is great, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
well this does look very refreshing and so pretty. love your photos. curious about the ice cubes? did you add air bubbles somehow to make them look interesting?:) our mum used to give us cherry brandy (the terribly cheap and nasty kind) with lemonade when we were kids. i guess she was a bad mother....:-)
Hi Sherry, I use acrylic ice cubes -- they look cool, and more important, they don't float (makes for better photos, I've found). Cheap cherry brandy IS really nasty! Kirchwasser isn't nasty at all. But not cheap, alas. Thanks for the comment.
It's a beautiful drink, and I happen to always have kirschwasser on hand (I love it), so this is for me!
Hi Jeff, this is definitely for you! :-) Thanks for the comment.
The color is stunning!:)
This is a lovely drink -- I like the color and the bubbles! Very refreshing.
Love the mock Hemingway banter... And the drink! I imagine it is as refreshing as I looks! Must find some kirschwasser, STAT! It’s 110° here these days and we could use a coolers,
Hi Natalia, it IS rather pretty, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, tastes good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi David, but it's a dry heat, right? :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a pretty drink, John! And on some days, and to some people, that counts for more than flavor, you know. I will follow your advice and go for the over-$30 kirschwasser so the flavor won't be compromised.
Hi Jean, pretty drinks are fun to photograph. And luckily, this one is really tasty, so it's fun to drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The fresh lime juice sounds so inviting in this gorgeous drink! Legend indeed, the stuff of Hemingway as we know him.
Hi Deb, Hemingway was legendary in so many ways. Particularly in his drinking. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Definitely no farewell to Riffs so I guess 2 Is the limit. This is such a pretty drink sure to sweeten anyone.
Hi Merryn, we're not ready to leave any time soon, so it's 2 for us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the color of that drink! A must make.
Hi Lea Ann, yup, you MUST make it! You'll be glad you did. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Awesome drink John, and the color is so enticing...absolutely love it. Thanks for the recipe...have a great weekend!
Hi Jiliana, the color really IS kinda enticing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yes, this sounds perfect for a hot, muggy night...like tonight! Last time I went hunting for Kirsh, all I could find was the cheap, nasty stuff. Will have to make the rounds once more.
Hi Liz, the cheap stuff IS nasty! Not. Worth. Drinking. :-) And really hot and muggy here, too -- time for one of these! Thanks for the comment.
Love the Hemingway take and the play on some of his wordage! :) Somehow I'm not sure this one would pack enough punch for him. I can see him using this as a cocktail appetizer. I am going to enjoy it though!!!!!!
Now this does look refreshing. And the color is really striking! Would make quite the impression at the next cookout.
Hi Debra, this definitely isn't the most booze-heavy drink we've ever done, that's for sure. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Frank, looks good, tastes good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, yup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds so refreshing, and I love the soft color! I need to try this one soon!
Hi Kelsie, this has delish flavor! Really worth having. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The pretty color alone makes me want to drink this! I just wish after one or two that I could write like Hemmingway. ;)
Hi Carolyn, we ALL wish we could write like Hemingway! :-) Thanks for the comment.
what a pretty color! It makes me feel happy to see it.
Hi Holly, doesn't this look nice? Tastes great, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds so refreshing.
I'm actually a big fan of Hemingway's writing on bullfights. And, I'd be a big fan of this cocktail too! Love these flavors for summer.
Hi Vicki, extremely so. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lisa, I read his _Death in the Afternoon_ shortly after I graduated college, and at the time I remember thinking it was wonderful -- one of his best books. I should really reread that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Pretty and no doubt delicious, what a wonderful summer drink.
Hi Emma, this has wonderful flavor! Thanks for the comment.
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