Photo: Warren Bobrow: Leica M8
There is a new German herbal liquor on the market here in the United States. It's named Hirschkuss. The handsome bottle has a little pop top on it to ostensibly allow the imbiber to seal up any unused drops of this highly aromatic herbal elixir.
I fell in love with it at first sip. Perhaps this is because I love all things German from my camera (Leica M8) to the herbal liquids that cure the rougher mornings of my life. What rougher mornings you ask? Well my friends, there is an event coming up in New Orleans that practically demands the generous application of German healing liqueurs in the morning. This event is known as Tales of the Cocktail. I was given the honor of being called a "personality" at this yearly event. What a thrill for me! A personality! From my past as an executive secretary to becoming a recognized name in my chosen career? This is pretty amazing. But back to the Hirschkuss. I've been searching for a medicinal for many months now and none of them have even come close to the deep flavors in Hirschkuss.
Pop open the little flip top and inhale deeply. The first flavors are of tobacco leaf, toasted and smoky. Then revealing itself in the mid range is dark chocolate. Not milk chocolate, but the kind that reaches out and grapples with your brain. This chocolate has an attitude problem and it shows. There are spices hidden in the background along with herbal notes of the Alpine variety.
All of a sudden my headache disappears and I feel very much normal... The finish goes on and on for what seems minutes, ending with a bitter sweet note of smoke and char.
Usually when I attend Tales of the Cocktail I bring a large supply of UNDERBERG with me and this year will be no exception! Underberg is also from Germany, but but it includes a more assertive taste that burns you in the nose and across the tongue, maybe that's part of the charm?
You know when you drink Underberg because this stuff has a serious attitude problem.
Hirschkuss on the other hand is pure elegance. Underberg tastes like it's serious business and it probably is serious business!
Hirschkuss is dreamy and peaceful to drink.
I love taking a shot glass of Hirschkuss right out of the freezer and let the intensely aromatic potion slide gently down my throat with grace. If you close your eyes the dark color of this sumptuous product belies the lightness of the flavor. Sure it's dark, but the finish is anything but as it ends the way it began, with tobacco on the nose and a slight burn down your throat.
So, why are German herbal tonics to popular? Maybe the alcohol level has something to do with it. Hirschkuss is 38% alcohol by volume! That's pretty strong stuff! And it's one of those liqueurs that offer healing! Yes, healing from the secret medicinal herbs and spices that make up this potent slurp.
I'm partial to a lemon zest in my Hirschkuss, frozen into a cube of ice and a splash of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. Easy and crisp.
The Gebirgshirsch Cocktail (Mountain Stag)
2 oz. Hirschkuss Herbal Liqueur
1 oz. Barr Hill Vodka (made from Raw Honey in the old German method)
Lemon zest ice (freeze lemon zest into your ice)
2-4 Dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
2 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (plain)
Combine the Hirschkuss with the Barr Hill Vodka in a Boston Shaker filled 3/4 with ice
Add a few dashes of the Bitter Truth Bitters over the top... Cover and shake HARD
Strain into an OLD FASHIONED glass with a couple cubes of the lemon zest ice inside
Finish with 2 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
Garnish with flamed orange zest.
Warren’s first book, Apothecary Cocktails is being published by Fair Winds Press in November 2013.
He has globally published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews.
He's a bit more than an amateur bartender who believes that fresh juices and great ice are essential to a cocktail.
He also believes that Employees Only -GET'S IT- as far as using the best ingredients that are available.
If you don't agree that fresh juices are essential, let's talk about what you do now in your cocktails and why you should use the best ingredients!
See you at Tales!