A Kir Royale is an elegant variation on the sweet French cocktail known simply as a Kir. You may be surprised
to find out that this drink is named after a French clergyman and politician.
What's in a Name?
Felix Kir was a Canon in the Catholic church who participated in several actions against the German occupation during WWII. With the end of the war, he became mayor of Dijon and remained so until his death in 1968, being reelected four times.
The popular mayor's favorite drink was something called a blanc-cassis, made from white wine and black currant liqueur. As he was rather much in the public eye, and not at all shy about his drinking habits, the press began referring to this drink as a Kir. Apparently this did not offend the mayor, because he allowed the usage of his name in this fashion to spread, and eventually gave legal rights to one beverage company to use his name to market their alcohol.
In keeping with the tradition set out by Canon Kir, in order for a blanc-cassis to be considered a true Kir, it must be made with a Burgundy white wine known as an Aligoté and creme de cassis, a black currant liqueur that is a speciality of the Burgundy region in the eastern middle of France.
Creme de Cassis (black currant liqueur)
Make sure the champagne and liqueur are well chilled before preparing.
Prepare your Kir Royale in a champagne flute for the best results.
Begin by pouring about 1/2 an inch of black currant liqueur in the glass and then finish filling the glass with champagne. Doing it in this order, allows the alcohols to mix more easily.
Do not mix and serve immediately.
The exact proportions, as with any popular French food, are of course open to happy debate. You will just have to do your own experimentation, then you too can be an authority!
Nothing is to stop you from experimenting with other sparkling wines too. Like that you can come up with your own signature drink, and who knows maybe in a few years you too can have a cocktail named after you.
Other Creme de Cassis Cocktails
Creme de cassis is about 20 percent alcohol and quite sweet. In general , the quality of a creme de cassis
(and therefore the quality of your cocktail), depends on the proportion of black currants used to make it. Try mixing it the way the French do:
Communard - This is red wine mixed with creme de cassis.
Double K - Includes white wine, creme de cassis and vodka, apparently in commemoration of the meeting of the mayor of Dijon with the Russian leader Khrouchtchev.
Kir Breton or Kir Normand - Creme de cassis mixed with cider (a speciality of the Brittany and Normand regions of France)
Kir Savoyard - Creme de cassis mixed with white wine from the Savoy region - an Apremont for example.
Téméraire - Made with a sparkling white burgundy called a Crémant. (Téméraire means reckless in English, so you might want to go easy on these!)