Kir: France’s Most Popular Aperitif?



Rod M with a kir

Rod M with a kir

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.


Aligote label off a bottle we bought

Aligote label off a bottle we bought

VivkirCrème 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.

Kir birlou and regular kir

Kir birlou and regular kir

Me, trying kir birlou

Me, trying kir birlou

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.



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.
This entry was posted in Burgundy, France, French aperitifs, French wines, icons of Frnace, wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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