One of the iconic French cocktails is Kir (pronounced “keer”.)
Light and refreshing, it is considered the perfect summer aperitif.
The back story to the drink was that the mayor of Dijon, Felix Kir (a Catholic priest and hero in the French resistance during WWII), wanted to promote Dijon’s local products during the post-World War II economic recovery. But the Nazis had previously confiscated the entire production of Burgundy wine for which Dijon is well-known and there was left a surplus of the then-unknown Aligoté dry white wine. In a marketing coup, Mayor Kir invited delegations from around the country to receptions in Dijon and served them a cocktail he created using the Aligoté wine and Crème de Cassis, a sweet, dark blackcurrant liqueur that was also produced locally. The Crème de Cassis‘ sweetness offset and balances the acidity and dryness of the Aligoté wine. Mayor Kir’s cocktail was a big hit and resulted in huge sales of both Aligoté wine and Crème de Cassis liqueur.
Today you may order the classic Kir with Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant), Kir de Mûre (blackberry), Kir de Framboise (raspberry), Kir de Pêche (peach), or you can “up the ante” to a Kir Royal made with champagne.
Most Kir cocktails today will be made using a local dry white wine and mixed one part Crème de Cassis to four parts wine-producing a deep blush color. Kir is served in a white wine glass and Kir Royal is presented in a champagne flute.
What do I think? I like it. It’s very refreshing on a sunny afternoon, but it’s a little too reminiscent of a wine cooler to me. It might be a nice change of pace, but I think I’d rather just have a good glass of wine (or a carafe of wine) to enjoy the afternoon.