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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kir---Burgundy's Iconic Aperitif

Thirty-five years ago I had my first Kir.  Actually, it was a Kir “Royale.”  I still remember the first sip, where I was, and with whom.  Kir and its blinged-out version made with Champagne (“Royale”)  is popular not only in Burgundy but in all parts of France.  Every Michelin star restaurant in the country offers both versions as an aperitif.  So what is a Kir?
The popular aperitif is named after Felix Kir, the former mayor of Burgundy’s largest city, Dijon.  The drink was invented in the late 1940’s in the post-war ravaged district.  The Germans had taken all of Burgundies treasured red wine.  Monsieur Kir decided to serve visiting dignitaries the simple local white wine (Aligoté) and mix it with the region’s crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur).  It was a huge hit.

The French typically use a 5:1 ratio for the drink (5 parts wine to 1 part crème de cassis), however, I find this way too sweet.  For me, the best recipe is half of the cassis, or a 10:1 ratio.  Another way is to go by color.  The 10:1 is a pale pink.  If it’s medium or dark pink there’s too much cassis for me.  I always prefer my Kirs made with sparkling wine.  The same ratios and colors apply to the “Royale.”  For a real splurge, I love my Royale made with Chambord (French raspberry liqueur).

Coming with us this fall to Burgundy?  You can bet we’ll be drinking Kirs.

A votre santé!

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