A Kir before dinner is a classic aperitif, traditionally made with crème de cassis and a white Burgundy wine. The sweet taste of blackcurrant also pairs well with a Chablis or any other Chardonnay-based Burgundy.
After the Second World War, “twinning” became a way of fostering friendship between countries that had been on opposite sides of the trenches. As a way to promote reconciliation, towns were twinned to encourage trade, tourism and goodwill. Felix Kir, the mayor of Dijon in the French province of Burgundy, was one of the movement’s early proponents and this cocktail was named in his honour.
The Kir is a close relative of the Bramble, which uses the blackberry taste of crème de mure instead of crème de cassis in a variety of different ways. A Kir cocktail is equally versatile and making it with champagne produces a Kir Royal. A Kir Breton uses cider instead of wine and if you want something completely different, try a Pink Russian. It’s made by blending crème de cassis and milk.
Crème de cassis is made by soaking blackcurrants in alcohol and then adding sugar. If “Dijon” figures on the bottle, you know the berries came from the region of France where the liqueur originated. You can also find bottles from England, Luxembourg, Canada and Tasmania. The taste will vary slightly based on the provenance of the fruit, but all are a very dark red, sweet, and contain about 15% alcohol.
Here’s the recipe for a Kir cocktail:
- 5 parts white wine
- 1-part crème de cassis
- Pour the crème de cassis in the bottom of a wine glass
- Top with white wine
- Wine glass