In the midst of World War II, when German soldiers confiscated the prized red wines, the French responded by fashioning the "Resistance Cocktail" Kir, which mimicked the crimson colour of red wine. Kir Royale is a commonly consumed variation of this historical drink, and replaces the dry white wine with champagne.
In the throes of World War II, when German soldiers brazenly confiscated the prized red wines, the French responded with characteristic flair, fashioning the "Resistance Cocktail" known as Kir.
The story goes as follows: Canon Félix Kir was a revered figure in the French Resistance and the mayor of Dijon from 1945 to 1968. An ardent enthusiast of all things local, especially the wines, Fr. Félix devised a masterstroke in the form of the inaugural Kir cocktail.
In the aftermath of the pillaged red wines, Fr. Félix artfully combined the local Créme de Cassis, a black currant liqueur native to the region, with a dry white wine crafted from the local Aligoté grape. Créme de Cassis undergoes its alchemical transformation through the meticulous process of crushing black currants in eau-de-vie, a transparent fruit brandy. Once the maceration concludes, the remnants of the black currants, their skins and seeds, are meticulously filtered, leaving behind a richly hued crimson elixir, intensified with the addition of sugar.
This Aligoté, a dry, highly acidic white with a neutral palate, skillfully offset the liqueur's sweetness. The alchemy resulted in a libation whose hue mimicked the hue of their coveted Burgundian red nectar.
Subsequently, residents of the region found themselves lifting Kir cocktails in homage to the ingenious clergyman who lent his name to the concoction. Beyond being a mere substitute for the red wine, the Kir cocktail became a cheeky rejoinder to those who had purloined their preferred quaff.
Acknowledged for his heroic actions, including his ingenious cocktail creations, Canon Felix Kir was honoured with the Legion d’Honneur in France. Post-war, he assumed the role of Dijon’s mayor, a position he held for an impressive twenty-three years until his demise.
Over the years, the classic Kir cocktail has gracefully retreated from contemporary cocktail menus. However, its effervescent counterpart, the Kir Royale (that replaces the dry red wine with Champagne), remains a global darling. The drink is typically served in a flute glass.
Because of its bare-bone list of ingredients, the Kir cocktail can be reimagined in countless ways by tweaking the ratio of ingredients, or the ingredients altogether. So the cassis liqueur can also be substituted with raspberry, peach, or grapefruit liqueurs.
A version of this drink is called Cider Royal, which adds cider to cassis; a Cardinal, on the other hand, is a fusion of red wine and cassis.
And a Tarantino is a result of the unexpected coupling of beer and cassis.
Pour crème de cassis in a chilled champagne glass.
Top up with sparkling wine.