The Kir Cocktail is a classic aperitif, and the balance between its two ingredients, white wine & creme de cassis, is the key to making this drink perfect.
Quick Facts Kir Cocktail
- Method: built in glass
- Flavor profile: dry, fruity
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: champagne flute
- Alcohol content: ~ 13% ABV, 22 grams of alcohol per serving
Read more about the classic French cocktail - including the famous variation with champagne- and the drink got its name.
- 1 Jigger
- 6 oz Bourgogne Aligoté white wine
- 1 oz Crème de cassis
- Pour 3oz of chilled Bourgogne Aligoté into a chilled wine glass.6 oz Bourgogne Aligoté white wine
- Add crème de cassis and fill up with the rest of the wine.1 oz Crème de cassis, 6 oz Bourgogne Aligoté white wine
Ingredients & Recommendations
The list of ingredients for the Kir Cocktail is short: Crème de Cassis and white wine. The white wine used in the original recipe is Bourgogne Aligoté - that means it is made of the Aligoté grape variety from the Burgundy region in France.
The wine is known for its fruity, dry, and acidic taste. Get a bottle of that if you can. If you cannot, opt for something with a similar flavor profile.
Crème de Cassis is a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants. It's usually around 40 proof (20% ABV), and we can recommend the products from Lejay and Giffard. However, if you happen to have a favorite, go with that.
Tips for a great Kir cocktail
As mentioned, measurements are crucial when making the Kir cocktail. And, to avoid serving a lukewarm drink, you have to chill all your ingredients. Ideally, this also includes your glass to help your drink stay cool for longer.
Further, you add half the wine into your glass, then the Crème de Cassis, and only then, pour the remaining half of the white wine. Like this, the ingredients mix well without stirring.
Regarding the ratio of white wine to creme de cassis, we prefer the 6:1 approach given in our recipe.
The IBA, for instance, asks for 1 part crème de cassis per 9 parts Bourgogne Aligoté in their recipe. We find that underrepresents the beautiful blackcurrant liqueur and prefer to keep it close to the original.
Variations - the Kir Royale
The Kir Royale brought forth various variations over the years, the best-known being the Kir Royale. Instead of white wine, you need sparkling wine is used to prepare the aperitif. If you want to stick to the original, it's - of course- champagne - hence, the Royale.
This luxurious version was also prominently promoted as "the perfect drink to sit and do nothing" in season 3, episode 4 of the successful Netflix series Emily in Paris. That brought the Kir back into the consciousness of many - also outside the French borders.
The cocktail is super easy to make and also extremely easy to drink. You should, however, adjust measurements slightly. For one part of crème de cassis, you need eight parts of Brut Champagne to get the balance right.
Other, lesser known, variations of the Kir Cocktail are:
- Kir Impérial - made with champagne and crème de framboise (raspberry liqueur) instead of cassis
- Kir Berrichon - made with red wine and crème de mûre and named after Berrichon, a dialect spoken in the French province of Berry.
- Kir Breton - made with Breton cider instead of white wine
- Kir Bière - made with lager or light ale
According to Simon Difford, the Kir Cocktail was invented in 1904 by a waiter who worked at Café George in Dijon - a French town close to the Swiss border. At first, the cocktail's name was Blanc-cassis. And it was quite a while later that his fusion of crème de cassis and white wine got renamed Kir.
That name change happened due to Félix Kir, the Mayor of Dijon. In addition to being mayor of the city, he was a fond promoter of the aperitif.
After World War II ended, Félix Kir started the so-called twinning movement. Twinning in this context means that cities engage with cities from other countries through a legal and social agreement.
Each time Kir welcomed guests to his city as part of his twinning campaign, he served his favorite drink invented in Dijon - the Blanc-cassis.
Word got around, and after some time, Kir was approached by a producer of crème de cassis who asked if it would be alright to use his name for a recipe.
Kir agreed, and another short while later, other producers were allowed to use his name, too. And eventually, the whole drink was named after Kir.
The Kir Royale is reminiscent of other famous combinations of fruity components with sparkling wine like: