Kir without the Royale
I am a fan of berries. Let that just be said. I like jams, jellies, coulis, shortcakes – pretty much anything berry related will get two thumbs up in my book. However, when you turn berries into hooch I go from a casual fondness into exceptional affection territory. Framboise, cordials, and Crème de Cassis – my heart is won.
On our first night in Paris, as Mike and I desperately searched (and failed) to find a place to eat, we saw a couple at the table next to us sipping on pale pink liquid out of champagne flutes. It was pink, it was in a flute, it was meant to be. When the waiter came to take our order, I just pointed and said, “Deux, s’il vous plait.” Tell me more about this blushing bride! It turns out that they were drinking Kir. Kir Royale? God knows I’m a fan of champagne cocktails, but it wasn’t Kir Royale, just….Kir. The difference is that instead of using champagne, the cocktail is made with a mix of Crème de Cassis and el-cheapo white wine. Ahhhhh….yes. Right up my alley.
When we were in our second city, Lyon, we saw quite a bit of our good friend Kir again. The glorious difference however, was that in Paris your Kir would be a flimsy pale pink served in wee little mini-flutes. In Lyon, for the same price as two glasses of Parisienne Kir you could get a Pot de Kir……literally, a personal bottle of free mixed Kir, served with a small tulip glass that I would personally have reserved for an aperetif. But who cares about the size of your glass, really, when you’re getting A BOTTLE OF KIR. Ah, that’s more like it.
The color of the Kir was also different as soon as we left Paris. The hue was richer and rosier. The white wine was of a slightly better quality, and the Cassis was poured with a rather more liberal hand. No skinny waif-like Kir’s for the Lyonnaise, thank you very much! They like a robust, juicy Kir to sip in the café.
I won’t discuss the Kir in Marseille, because by now you must know that I’m a little bit biased. Onwards, however, when we reached Dijon we were in for another variation on the classic Kir. Dijon is famous for their Cassis production. We had cassis flavored cocktails, teas, confectionary and even cheese. And if the residents of Dijon are proud of their cassis, well, so they should be. It was absolutely divine.
In the Burgundy region of Dijon, the Kir cocktail was less about the wine and more about (yup, you guessed it!) the Cassis. Kir were served in wide goblets or snifters, and the ratio of wine to cassis had dropped enormously, giving the drinks a fabulously rich, ruby toned hue. The sweet-tart flavor using superior cassis was absolutely a marvel.
So there you have it. The classic (poor) Frenchman’s cocktail, the Kir can be served in any stemmed glass that you like, and with as much or as little Cassis as you desire. I like some flexibility in my cocktails. Good job, cassis. You’ve won yet another battle in the game of Bartender’s Bingo.
Kir without the Royale
- Crème de Cassis *
- 6 oz fairly dry white wine, very well chilled**
Pour the cassis into a stemmed glass of your choosing. Add the well chilled white wine and give it a stir. Santé!!!
* The amount of Cassis that you add will depend on how strong and sweet you want the flavor to be.
- Parisienne Kir: 1/2 oz Cassis
- Lyonnaise Kir: 1 oz Cassis
- Burgundy Kir: 1.5 – 2 oz Cassis
** So you have some cheap white wine that you absolutely can’t stomach on it’s own? Well, waste not want not….but better go for the Dijonnaise style Kir and bump up the Cassis to camouflage, as best you can, those rotten grapes.
I do love a good cocktail. And a cheap cocktail. And an easy cocktail, because after a Pot de Kir I’ll be damned if I can be bothered to measure anything, but at least my blurry vision can still help me through by color alone. God bless that lovable Cassis.
Berries: ya done good, kid.