One of France’s famous aperitifs (Apero)
Burgundy’s most fashionable aperitif (Apero), Kir, has spread throughout the country. It is named after Felix Kir, a mayor of Dijon and a hero of the Resistance. The drink, also known simply as vin blanc cassis, is made by adding about a finger of crème de cassis to a wine glass then topping it up with a well chilled Bourgogne Aligote—but a dry sauvignon blanc is also good. If red wine is used, it’s called a Cardinal, and if sparkling wine is used, it’s called a Kir Royale.
Crème de Cassis is a sweet, concentrated blackcurrant liqueur that is a speciality of Dijon—blackcurrant bushes were planted in former vineyards after the phylloxera disaster. The town of Nuits-St-Georges, in the center of the Cote d’Or (perhaps the most famous wine area in France), is also an important center for these kinds of liqueurs. There are varieties made with other fruits, such as crème de framboise (raspberry), crème de mûres (blackberries) and crème de pêche (peach).
Whenever we are in France, especially in the Burgundy region and in Paris, we almost always have a kir as an aperitif before dinner, and it’s been fun to compare—colors, shapes of glasses, which wine is used, how much cassis the server uses etc.
When we stay in an apartment, we will buy a small bottle of cassis and try to find the Bourgogne Aligote to make our own version too.
I also tried a Kir Birlou, a speciality at Le Zinc Honore in Paris, on Place St Honore. It’s a combination of crème de pommes (apples) and crème de châtaignes (chestnuts). Interesting, but I think I still prefer the regular cassis kir.