Kir and Kir Royale


The Kir and, especially, the Kir Royale are, apparently, a bit passé at the moment. That’s a shame because they are really good drinks. A simple combination of white wine and Créme de Cassis, they could not be easier to make; all that is required is a suitable glass. In France, it is drunk as an apéritif before a meal and is a fine way to start one’s gastronomic adventures.

The mixture of white wine and cassis is named for Felix Kir, mayor of Dijon from 1945 to 1968, who popularized the drink. Traditionally, a white Burgundy wine was used, but today most any white wine, still or sparkling, is employed. Chardonnays or Chablis are popular choices, however, one should feel free to experiment with a variety of wines. A Kir Royale employs the “king of wines and the wine of kings:” Champagne.


Le chanoine Kir, who was awarded the Legion d’honeur for his work with the French Resistance during WW II

Kir or Kir Royale

5 oz Champagne, sparkling white, or still white wine

½ – 1 oz Creme de Cassis

Pour the wine into a chilled champagne flute or large cocktail glass. Slowly add the Créme de Cassis.

The amount of Créme de Cassis is determined by personal taste. Some like their Kirs on the sweeter side, some drier. I’ve seen this drink garnished with a long lemon twist. While I’ve never had a twist added to any I have had in Paris, I think it is a fine thing, adding the faintest hint of citrus. Also, it really gets the bubbles going!

Variations are legion including substituting the Créme de Cassis with peach liqueur (Kir Pêche), replacing the white wine with white vermouth (Kir Bianco), or with cider (Kir Normand or Kir Breton depending on where the cider comes from). A Kir Impérial is made with Champagne and raspberry liqueur such as Chambord. A drink fit for an Emperor, indeed.

napoleon on horse

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.” Napoleon Bonaparte

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A votre santé!