Kirsch (also known as kirschwasser, “cherry water”) is actually a Swiss cherry firewater: clear and dry-tasting — not a “cherry brandy”, which is sweet. Most good liquor stores should carry kirsch, at least one of the US brands like Hiram Walker or Bols. While kirsch lovers — and there are many — will argue about favorite brands and the virtues of the new designer kirschwassers now popping up, probably the best readily available Kirsch is the Swiss brand Dettling. Another good one (possibly more widely available) is Etter. (If you visit the Etter website, it is a commercial one. Just a reminder that this isn’t an endorsement of them — we’re just pointing out where they are. The Etter home site unfortunately doesn’t seem to have an English-language side.)
By the way, if you’re concerned about the alcohol in the kirschwasser don’t worry. It will boil off during the process of cooking the fondue. The purpose of the kirsch is both for flavoring and to make the fondue more digestible, which can be an issue when you’re eating something with so much cheese in it.
Traditional “Shot in the Middle”
Another tradition: the “coupe d’midi”, or “shot in the middle”, for when you get full: a thimbleful of Kirsch, knocked straight back in the middle of the meal, usually magically produces more room if you’re feeling too full. Don’t ask us how this works…it just does.