The Christmas tree is still out on the curb awaiting the mulch police and already Valentine’s decorations are for sale at the store!! Well here is an early bird cocktail special for the gents to make your chick take notice.
On St. Valentine’s Day, you want to impress your special someone, oui? Give your date the royal treatment by starting the evening with a Kir Royale. The Kir Royal, a delicious blend of Champagne and crème de cassis, tastes like class in a flute glass. Crème de cassis is black currant liquor that is slightly bitter. Mixed with separkling wine or dry champagne, it becomes not only an aphrodisiac but a mood setter as well. Ok I am exaggerating but one cannot deny it is a romantic drink with a great story.
The mayor. The hero. The cocktail. In the 1940s, there lived a mayor of Dijon in France named Felix Kir. He was a heroic figure that led the French résistance in the province of Burgundy during the Second World War. To celebrate his efforts, the people of Dijon created a drink made of simple dry, white, peasant wine and black currant liquor. They called it The Kir in his honor. Crème de Cassis had long been used in Burgundy as a mixer with aperitifs and was a natural choice to make the traditional peasant wine, called Aligote, tastier. Once the French media and the upper classes caught wind of this concoction, they substituted champagne and elevated the drink to royal status — The Kir Royale was born. Felix Kir continued to actively promote the original Kir to Dijon visitors until his death in 1968.
What the cornichon is the difference between a Kir and Kir Royale and the Kir Imperiale?
A Kir is generally dry white wine and crème de cassis. Up the ante with brut champagne or sparkling wine and you have the regal Kir Royale. Double down with Dom Perignon and crème de cassis or Chambord and you’ll be tripping the light fantastic with a Kir Imperiale.
The garnish: Purists insist on one or two lemon twists, but for Valentine’s Day I like to sweeten the mixture with a maraschino cherry. After your Kir, your date can play tie-the-cherry-stem-with-their-tongue. Oh my!
The Kir Royale
½ part of crème de cassis
5 parts Perrier Jouet “extra dry” champagne
1-2 lemon twists or a Luxardo maraschino cherry
Pour ½ part of the crème de cassis in each of 2 tall, fluted Champagne glasses. Pour the Champagne into each glass, and add a lemon twist or maraschino cherry.
Make a toast and sweep her off her feet!
(originally published in the Barfly's Beat Jan 2007)