Daily Life,  Food & Drink

My Favorite Drink: The Kir Impérial

Editors Note: A lot of you mentioned that I had a very strange glass for a champagne drink and you’re right – but usually I am drinking and working at my desk on the weekends when I have this… so the Bodum double walled tumbler is perfect. It keeps your drink cold much longer without ice. YMMV


Want to know the fastest way to make my day?  Order me my favorite drink, or know how to make it.

What’s in a Kir Imperial?

  • 6 parts Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 part liqueur framboise (raspberry)

It’s really simple actually, and this picture should give you a sense of how pink it should be.  It should still taste like champagne, just with a nice juicy splash of fruit.

Ingredients: Champagne

This drink shouldn’t be pricey to make at home, but it is a treat so pick good ingredients.

First, I like to select a good California or Washington State sparkling wine.  Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is great, and you can get it on Wine.com for $20.  Let me tell you a few important things about champagne/cava/sparkling wine.  Don’t just buy the “good stuff” for other people.  If you are going to bother, spend at least $20 when you buy it for yourself.  Don’t buy Korbel.  You’re ruining the whole point.  Think what the French would say.  Actually, they’d probably say go for the Korbel!  Such confusing people… (Benoit!)

But in all seriousness, I love this sparkling wine because it is primary pinot noir grapes (did you know pinot noir is white until they add the grape skins in?!) and it has some good acidity which you’ll want to cut through the sweetness of the liqueur.  If you pick a syrupy sweet champagne, this will be an entirely different drink.

Ingredients: Fruit Liqueur

Next is the liqueur.

For people looking to make the class Kir Royale you should get the classic creme de cassis, which is black currant liquer, is a bar staple and you can get it in Bev Mo or any liquor store.  Extra points if it is actually from the Dijon region of France (see below on history). If you are committing to make this drink part of your repertoire, then stock your home bar with a presentable bottle (read: NOT Monin or anything cheaper than that, and yes I am judging you).  But seriously, if you are going to bother with a bar please put some thought into it because this is a bottle that will last a couple years.

Personally, I have experimented quite a bit and prefer raspberry liqeuer for my Kir, which is why it is an Imperial and not a Royale).  I am loving Alfred Schladerer’s Himbeer Liqueur – actually a German producer (natch! — see history again).  And yes, I just linked to an Amazon product that is out of stock, but you really should wishlist it.  I got mine at Bev Mo for $30, so I imagine it is in other liquor stores too.

FAQ: History & Name

This is a French cocktail that got popular after World War II by the mayor of Dijon, named Felix Kir, who served it to international delegations as he worked to rebuild his region.  Creme de cassis was a local product, and he let local producers use his name.  Wikipedia tells us:

According to Rolland (2004), the reinvention of blanc-cassis (post 1945) was necessitated by the German Army’s confiscation of all the local red Burgundy during the war. Faced with an excess of white wine, Kir renovated a drink that previously was made primarily with the red.

Pretty damn scrappy if you ask me.

FAQ: What’s the difference between a kir and a kir royale?

A kir is made with white wine, and a kir royal is made with champagne.

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