Kir

Have you ever been furious because the new white wine you had bought proved more than disappointing? Have you ever been offered a bottle of a hardly enjoyable white wine and didn’t feel like cooking with it? If you have answered “yes” to either of these questions and still don’t know “kir”, it’s high time you got introduced to this wine-rescuing cocktail. It might also come handy if you organise a New Year’s Eve party and look for a cheap and simple crowd-pleasing drink.

The traditional kir is composed of chilled white wine and crème de cassis (a thick black currant liqueur produced in Dijon). At the beginning called “blanc-cassis” (white-black currant), the cocktail inherited its present name from Félix Kir, a Dijon mayor who made it popular after the Second World War, promoting two regional products: crème de cassis and bourgogne aligoté (one of the cheapest Burgundy white wines made mainly with aligoté grapes). Initially the cocktail contained as much as 1/3 crème de cassis to tame down the high acidity bourgogne aligoté had at the time. With time the aligoté quality changed, other white wines started to be used and the ratio was modified. Now, unless you precise otherwise, in France you will usually be served a kir containing 1/5 of crème de cassis.

One of the most popular light drinks in France, kir is typically preferred by women and often drunk as an aperitif. You can order it in every café there, in most cafés in my Swiss city and I know it’s becoming more and more popular all around the world. I never drink it when I see good white wines on the menu, but it’s very convenient whenever I feel like having a glass of chilled wine, but know that the place serves wines I could only call drinkable (unfortunately a frequent situation in my city). Of course if a wine is corked or rotten in any other way, no amount of crème de cassis can save it!

Apart from the blackcurrant liqueur, many cafés and bars now offer also blackberry, peach, raspberry or even violet kir, but for me the classic version is unbeatable. There are some other versions of kir, the most famous being Kir Royal prepared with champagne.

TIP: The kir you see above has been made according to the usual ratio. If, like me, you don’t like sweetish drinks, try putting only 1/10 crème de cassis.

WARNING: Do not attempt to make or buy this cocktail with a good wine or champagne! It’s a waste of money or/and lack of respect towards a wine maker and his or her hard work.

Special equipment: a tall glass or a white wine glass

Preparation: 3 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

10 cl chilled white wine

1-2 cl crème de cassis (black currant liqueur)

Pour crème de cassis into a tall glass.

Top up with white wine.

Serve.

 

55 Replies to “Kir”

      1. It’s an inexpensive version of kir royale with, I think, the benefits of drinking a good quality/tasting sparkling wine while not breaking the bank or misusing an expensive dry champagne.

        Many women prefer a sweeter champagne, I believe. I know I do but I don’t have the budget for a Moet and Chandon (a la “Killer Queen”). 🙂 And of course, the mimosa for brunch is another way of “tarting up” a good quality sparkling white wine.

        1. I totally agree! I am a woman and I prefer very dry champagne, hate sweet drinks etc. 😉 but I know many women prefer sweet cocktails, I must be in the minority.

  1. What a great idea Sissi, the problem is I have no idea what consists of “good” or “bad” white wine, my taste pallet it not sophisticated enough to tell, so most of the time I stick with a nice Riesling or even worse “Moscato” now a days… Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno! In my opinion good/bad wine judgment depends a lot on personal preferences and of course experience, so the test is simple: as long as you think it’s a pity to mix the wine with any liqueur, it means it’s too good to be mixed 😉
      Dry Rieslings have been my beloved wines for the last two years, so I am not surprised you stick to those! Happy New Year to you too!

  2. I’ve never heard of kir, good tip though. Previously boxed wine had a lower quality, this would have been ideal for such wines. I suppose another way to drink undrinkable wine is to drink plenty of good wine so your ability to judge/taste is affected:) I remember certain situations where people did not notice they were being offered water instead of vodka:)
    I’ve noticed some clubs here make champagne cocktails where they put a layer of champagne on top of a cocktail, and its good champagne. It never attracted me.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. Your tip sounds very interesting, although I’m not sure if I ever come to the stage where I don’t make a difference (I would probably fall to sleep before!) 😉 The vodka and water story is hilarious! I don’t think I have ever experienced such a situation.
      Kir Royal has never attracted me either: it’s very expensive and if the champagne is good, then why mix it; if it’s bad, why pay the price of something tasting worse than a good cheap sparkling wine? I even have no idea how it tastes… but I know many restaurants and bars serve it.

  3. Haha, love this idea Sissi! And it has me smiling because we were recently at a Christmas cocktail and the white wine was, … well, quite honestly, undrinkable ;0 – I think the classic version is what I would try first. Kir is not as popular in North America but I’m beginning to wonder why… this brings it in to a whole new light for me! I hope you’re enjoying the holidays Sissi 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I hope the cocktail food was at least edible 😉
      I hope you are having lovely holidays too!

  4. Another life saver idea, Sissi. Now I don’t have to toss the bad whites and feel guilty. I’ve tried saving some bad wines by mixing them with some cordial or other and sometimes it turns out even worse! LOL! A bartender I am not.

    1. Thank you, Ping. It probably depends on the cordial… I remember I hated white wine with some liqueurs too. Crème de cassis seems to be a very well chosen pairing.

    1. Thank you, Leaf. If you like a bit sweet drinks, then a traditional kir with 20% crème de cassis would be perfect.

  5. oooooh finally showing your wine expertise! I’m still very much a wine novice, I can drink a few glasses for the sake of it, but usually, I’m much happier not having it ):

    1. Thank you, Shuhan. (Rather a bad wine remedy expertise 😉 ) Wine needs a lot of learning and patience. I know something about it.

  6. I’ve never had this drink, tho I’ve heard of it. Your explanation of this drink and it’s use with not so great wine has me so intrigued. I’m going to buy an ordinary white just to make this drink! It will definitely will be on my New Year’s table. Thanks so much for sharing this; it was truly a worthwhile post!! Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!

  7. I haven’t had a Kir in so long. When I do, I ask for just a touch of Cassis as I don’t care for sweet drinks. If I know that I’m going to someone’s home where I know that they will be serving questionable wine, I’ll take a bottle of chilled Champagne and say let’s drink it to celebrate their having us over.

    1. Hi Karen. It’s funny! I also always ask for a dash of crème de cassis (usually 1/10th as I have mentioned in the post), however most women prefer the sweet, standard version…
      Your champagne trick is excellent!

  8. Kir’s never wrong! I like wines mixed with other things a lot actually – usually some sort of juice. Reminds me of “Bucks Fizz”… champagne mixed with orange juice. My father thinks this is a “waste of good champagne”, but I have to say that it’s actually quite nice 😀 Hope you had a good Christmas Sissi 🙂

    1. Thanks, Charles. I have never heard of bucks fizz, but totally agree with your dad, but only if the champagne is good (by “good” I don’t mean expensive, since all the champagnes are expensive…). There are so many disgusting Veuve Cliquots etc. in shops and bars and restaurants… I can totally agree a bad champagne tastes better mixed with something 😉

  9. I’m a bit of a fan of Kir and Kir Royale. I know you said that it seems a waste of champagne but even champagne can be iffy sometimes. I had no idea of it’s origins until now. GG

    1. Haha! I totally agree! I said a waste of “good wine or champagne” and I wanted the adjective to apply to champagne too 😉 Most champagnes in the supermarkets and even at “serious” wine shops are bad, but unfortunately expensive… If I was served a glass of champagne (I don’t want to mention any brand…), I would choose either good wine or a dash of crème de cassis 😉

        1. You make me blush. I’m not a big connoisseur of champagnes and don’t drink as much of champagne as of other wines… I must have drunk two or three excellent champagnes, but I can say I know only two producers whose bottles I buy several times a year: M. – N. Ledru and P. Gimonnet. All their cuvées I have tasted were extraordinary. Thanks to them (or rather to someone who introduced me them to me) I have discovered what a good champagne tastes like.
          A very nice wine shop owner once told me that for most people the expensive bubbles mean celebration, regardless the taste. The famous brand justifies the high price. This is how he explained to me why he sells only the most known brands, available in most supermarkets too.

          1. Unfortunately, the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) where I live doesn’t carry anything from these producers of what I suspect are limited output so I won’t be able to sample them for myself. 🙂 They do carry the Bollingers, Veuve Cliquot, Moet and Chandon, Dom Perignon etc lines but not necessarily in my city either. So, I am limited by budget as well as choice. (sigh)

            1. I don’t know if it will cheer you up, but both are difficult to get in France too… (I once was offered a very good Dom Perignon but I think it was outrageously expensive).

  10. Aha! Can totally identify with the odd bottle that disappoints and ends up in a risotto or roast – even if you’re not really supposed to use a wine that you wouldn’t drink yourself. The wines that have really disappointed end up being used to get rid of red wine stains in our clumsy house.

    In most brasseries or cafés in Paris where the white wines are ‘iffy’ (i.e. you don’t know if they’ve been opened for long or not), it’s always safer to go for this Kir. At least you won’t get any nasty surprises but a bit of Burgundy nectar!

    1. Hi Jill. Thank you for the red wine stains! I have forgotten this obvious use! I totally agree a kir is safer in many places.

  11. Mmmmmmm….I haven’t had one of these in a long time! I need to check my supply of cassis and toast in the new year with one 🙂

  12. Dear Sissy,

    There are lots of great white wines here in Australia that are relatively cheap due to the wine recent wine glut in Australia and New Zealand. NZ produces some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world and many of them ceased business recent because of the oversupply.

    Like you, I prefer dryer rather than sweetish whites so this is a great idea and recipe. Better still, some cheap wines in Australia are even cheaper than soft drinks and upmarket mineral water. I will test this out perhaps on New Year’s eve but we will be on a boat so will have to see if we can lug all the grog along 🙂 Hope you had a great Christmas.

    1. Thank you, Chopinand. As usually you confirm that Australia is a food and drink paradise 🙂 New Zealand is another wine producing country I completely ignore. Your NEw Year’s Eve party sounds terrific!

    1. Hi, Nami. Thank you, I hope you have had lovely time with your family too! I suppose you are having lots of fun with your mum. Happy New Year to you and all your family!

  13. I really like kir, but never made any as I always find it sad to open a perfectly good bottle of white wine in order to mix it with crème de cassis. But, it is a great way of using a disappointing wine…

    Best wishes for 2012!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    1. Hi, Rosa. I wish I could only have good wine bottles… unfortunately sometimes a bad one happens and then usually improves it a bit! (Frankly speaking 99% of the kirs I have are ordered at cafés…). Happy New Year!

  14. No wlasnie… Ja za bialym winem nie przepadam, dlatego czesto ‘uzytkuje’ je w ten sposob wlasnie (a zima w formie grzanca, ktorym mnie ‘zarazono’ w Danii ;)).

    1. Ja nigdy nie pilam grzanego bialego wina (chyba w Alzacji tez tak robia). Musze sprobowac! dzieki za pomysl!

  15. I’ve heard of this drink before but never made or tried it. However, it your offering… 🙂

    Also never use poor quality wine to make a drink. Your head will hardly ever say thank you.

    1. I never drink more than one kir and everything seems to be ok 🙂 but you are totally right: even after two glasses it might end up really bad. As I have told someone 99% of my kirs are ordered in bars and cafés with drinkable, but not very good wines. I am not sure if they have poor quality in the very basic sense of the word. They are just probably cheap. I almost never do kir at home, unless I am offered a bottle someone was unlucky to choose.

  16. PS…back to let you know that both carrot cake and cheesecake freeze beautifully. Fingers crossed I get a good photo of a slice when I serve it 🙂

    1. Thank you, Liz! I see so many bloggers talking about freezing cakes and even those with cream… My freezer is always full, so I cannot even dream of trying it, but when I finally buy a huge one, as I plan, I will certainly freeze cakes.

  17. I’ve never had kir or crème de cassis for that matter but it looks like that’s about to change. This looks like a great aperitif. Happy New Year!

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