The Best French Apero

Kirs and a bottle of creme de cassis

Kirs and a bottle of creme de cassis

A very popular apéritif in France is a “Kir” and, for us, it’s the best apéro (the abbreviation).

Rod with a "Cardinal" in Dijon

Rod with a “Cardinal” in Dijon

This apéritif originated in Burgundy and is named after Felix Kir, a mayor of Dijon and a hero of the Resistance. To make it, add a finger of crème de cassis to a wine glass and top up with a chilled dry white wine. In Burgundy the favored wine is Bourgogne Aligoté, but a Chablis or a Sauvignon Blanc work well too. To make it very special, add champagne or a crémant wine instead, and then it’s called a “Kir Royale”. Sometimes people add a red wine, then it’s known as a “Cardinal”.

A selection of these liqueurs at the home of our friends in Lozere

A selection of these liqueurs at the home of our friends in Lozere

Crème de cassis is a sweet, concentrated blackcurrant liqueur (low alcohol content, about 16%), which is a speciality of Dijon—blackcurrant bushes were planted in many former vineyards after the disastrous phylloxera outbreak. Nuits-St-Georges, a wine town a little south of Dijon, is also a center for these liqueurs, often made with other fruits: crème de framboise (raspberry), crème de mûres (blackberries), and crème de pêches (peaches).

On our recent visit to Paris in August I also tried a Violet Kir for the first time—rather sweet and certainly very violet in color.

My violet Kir at a cafe on rue Montorgueil in Paris

My violet Kir at a cafe on rue Montorgueil in Paris

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About viviennemackie

Avid traveler, travel writer and photographer. In an earlier life I was a psychologist, but now am an ESL teacher. Very interested in multiculturalism, and how travel can expand one's horizons, understanding and tolerance.
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