What is Kir?

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If you’re ever in one of those flavored wine moods, your go-to is probably sangria. However, if you’re anything like Mariana, sangria simply has too many things in it. You can opt for a mimosa (also much like Mariana), or you could go the extra mile while keeping the sophistication of bubbles.

Kir is that great wine cocktail that allows you to control not only the mouthfeel but also the sweetness because really, let’s be honest, you prefer to drink your wine, dry! Plus, it’s acceptable to drink at any time of day.


Definition:

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Let’s go ahead by stating that Kir and Kir Royale are two different drinks (you’ll learn why in a minute). Not too different but different enough to matter.

Kir, itself, is made from 2 different things: Aligoté and Crème de Cassis. Aligoté is a white grape that makes bone-dry Burgundy wine. Crème de Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur. So, though we’ve individually covered wines and liqueurs, this time we’re covering the drink that mixed them both and succeeded.

Since we already covered how wine is made (way back when) let’s explain Creme de Cassis. Blackcurrants are crushed and then soaked in eau-de-vie. When they’re nice and saturated, the liqueur is actually collected from the blackcurrant skins and seeds. Then, like with all liqueurs, a ton of sugar is added (400 grams per liter to be exact). Crème de Cassis liqueur is on average 20% abv.

So to make Kir, one must first pour the Crème de Cassis in the bottom of an empty champagne flute! No need for ice in this cocktail. Then, pour cold aligoté on top, stir it around and enjoy (responsibly of course)! If you do not specifically have aligoté, you can use any dry white wine in this cocktail. The final product will be a berry flavored wine with a deep rose hue and a relatively light cocktail consisting of roughly 9%-17% ABV; all contingent on what type of wine you use. It’s so versatile! It goes perfectly with a smoked, spiced meat or a creamy cheese. For more of a sweet pairing, I highly recommend with your buttermilk pancakes at brunch.


A Brief History:

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Where did this beverage originate? France, of course, not only is it a staple in their culture but the recipe calls for white Burgundy wine. But, there is quite a bit of controversy as to whom came up with the idea of mixing Aligoté and Crème de Cassis. It was a French gentleman, named Canon Felix Kir back in the 1940s. It’s relatively new for the cocktail scene but it’s made its mark on French culture and history.

Mr. Canon Felix Kir was the major of the city (not the mustard) of Dijon from 1945 to 1968 and also a hero in the French Resistance during the Second World War. In 1940 Burgundy was invaded by the Nazi forces, and while most of the local officials ran for their lives, our Mr. Kir stood his ground.

He ended up helping more than 4,000 prisoners of war escape from a nearby camp. In 1945, when World War II finally ended, the wine country of Burgundy found itself at a loss, German Armies occupying the area had confiscated all their iconic red wines. So Mr. Kir got creative.

He wanted to create something he could drink whilst entertaining guests at the same time, but he wanted to honor the classic Burgundy reds and mimic that color. Mr. Kir was known for being an advocate of natural ingredients from the local and sustainable area, and all the area had left were white aligoté grapes. The drink was an instant hit not only because of the wondrous combination of flavors but also because it promoted two very economic products of the region, which really helped after being robbed of red grapes during the war.

It became a Nazi resistant cocktail and gained its rightful place in history alongside red Burgundy wines. Kir “kept his chin up and declared the red-tinted drink the official beverage of Dijon’s city hall,” writes Elizabeth G. Dunn in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Kir was a humble person, so at first, he named the cocktail “blanc cassis” but in honor of his legacy it was later renamed Kir. His show of heroism and pride in his country won him a spot in France’s Legion d’honneur, then later the position of mayor of Dijon from 1945, he served his people until his death in 1968.

We couldn’t find out exactly when or who decided to add champagne to this invention but we’re assuming with the high-quality status Mr. Kir held, it had to be someone with a deep appreciation for history and French heroes.

Today, the cocktail is used exactly for what Mr. Kir wanted it for, to entertain the rich and cultured. It’s a popular aperitif to kick start any party and the recipes have of course been modified to preference. For example, waiters at French restaurants nowadays ask customers if they prefer it with crème de cassis (blackcurrant), de mûre (blackberry), de pêche (peach), or framboise (raspberry). The experts at VinePair claim an original Kir, “tastes like resistance.” We couldn’t agree more.


Random Fact:

Carbonation in liquor is what makes alcohol release into your blood quicker.

That being said, if you are someone who cannot have more than 2 drinks in an evening, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, just please be careful. Kir is like a less sweet, more enjoyable liquid candy.


Now when you’re out and about at lunch or dinner and still want your fruity wine, you have more options to order from- a Kir or a Kir Royale. Not only will you look like the girl who didn’t come straight from brunch but maybe you can teach your friends the wonders of this Nazi resistant beverage. Just don’t forget to cheers to, “la resistance!”

Thanks for reading, and as always…

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City