It is a shame that champagne seems to only make an appearance at special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthday brunches, and New Years Eve. This particular effervescent beverage rises above all others on cocktail menus and wine lists. This may be due in part to the celebratory nature of its existence or the underlying impression that only expensive champagne or sparkling wine is worth partaking of. Not so. Imagine the opportunities wasting away that could be had sipping on a bit of the bubbly while experimenting with exciting flavors of liqueurs.

The Kir Royale for instance not only allows our taste buds the joyous fizzy bubbles, but also a walk on the wild side with the seldom used Cassis liqueur. Cassis is a liqueur made from the tart blackcurrant berries. These tiny berries are miniature pinkish red clusters that appear almost translucent. Once the blackcurrants are refined into liqueur, the liquid takes on a lush, deep purplish hue to match its rich flavor. While blackcurrant berries are tart, the Cassis liqueur is a sharp sort of sweet that is neither syrupy, nor bitter.

The Kir Royale needs just two ingredients, Champagne or sparkling wine and Cassis liqueur. While an expensive bottle of authentic Champagne would indeed make this an exquisite cocktail, it is completely unnecessary. The liqueur added to the Champagne breaks down the complexities a high quality Champagne has to offer. The real reason to spend a great deal of money on a bottle of Champagne is to savor every drop of flavor from the Champagne itself, not to mix it with a liqueur.

An inexpensive Champagne or sparkling wine is the way to go for the Kir Royale and many other Champagne cocktails. Since liqueurs have higher sugar content, Brut Champagne with its drier complexities helps balance the sweetness for a more satisfying cocktail. Save the expensive champagnes for the extraordinary occasions, but bring out a bit of the bubbly for the everyday celebrations that make life festive each day.

Kir RoyaleChampagne Imperial - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin


1/4 ounce Cassis Liqueur

Lemon peel for garnish

Pour the Cassis Liqueur into a champagne glass and fill with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel.

The classic Kir is basically an identical cocktail to the Kir Royale. White wine is used in place of Champagne in the Kir. In France it has become commonplace for waiters to offer the choice of blackcurrant, blackberry, or peach liqueurs when ordering a Kir. A Kir Royale becomes a Kir Imperial when Mathilde Framboise (raspberry) is substituted for Cassis. Try any of these for a pleasant new twist on a classic favorite.

All content ©2012 Cheri Loughlin, The Intoxicologist. All Rights Reserved. Chat with Cheri @Intoxicologist on Twitter and or

Kir Royale