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