Kir is the most famous and typical Burgundian aperitif, invented by Felix Kir, first Dijon's Mayor after WW II.
Mr. Kir, was not only war hero, but as well plenty of entrepreneurial
ideas succesfull businessman. As the economics of Burgundy, at that
times, were in exteremely poor condition, he strongly recommended to
develop blackurrant plantations, which, besides vineyards, were the
most popular here.
In Middle Ages Benedictin monks, were already producing crème de
cassis (blackurant liquor), but at that times, it was used as
medicament to treat jaundice.
Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, Mr.Kir was suffering from
heartburns. Thats why, he could not drink much of his favorite white
burgundys, and therefore he started to mix them with crème de
Different sources claim, that the re-invention of coctail (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.
Following the commercial development of crème de cassis, the
cocktail became a popular regional café drink, but has since become
inextricably linked internationally with the name of Mayor Kir. Quickly,
it became world famous, not only because it is simply very good, but as
well [following Mayor's decision], it was served free of charge to
celebrities, as well as top journalists visiting Burgundy.
Kir is made with a measure of crème de cassis topped up with
white wine. (preferably Aligoté) in the proportions 1 x cassis
to 3-5 x wine, depending on your taste (more cassis = more
The International Bartenders Association gives a recipe using
1/10 crème de cassis, but French sources typically specify more; 19th
century recipes for blanc-cassis recommended 1/3 crème de cassis, and
modern sources typically about 1/5.
In France it is usually drunk as an aperitif
before a meal or snack.
Originally the wine used was Bourgogne Aligoté, a lesser white wine of
Burgundy. Nowadays, various white wines are used throughout France,
according to the region and the whim of the barkeeper. Many prefer a
white Chardonnay-based Burgundy, such as Chablis.
Although Kir Royal (made with champagne) was not invented in Burgundy,
it becomes more and more popular. It's birthplace is believed to be the
famous Maxim's restaurant in Paris, by one of the waiters, who had a
wonderful idea to repalce in the standard Kir, the Aligoté, by champagne
Besides the basic Kir, a number of variations exist:
• Kir Royal - made with champagne
• Kir Pétillant - made with sparkling wine
• Communard/Cardinal - made with red wine instead of white
• Kir Imperial - made with raspberry liqueur instead of cassis, and
• Kir Normand - made with Normandy cider instead of wine.
• Kir Breton - made with Breton cider instead of wine.
• Cidre Royal - made with cider instead of wine, with a measure of
• Hibiscus Royal - made with sparkling wine, peach liqueur, raspberry
liqueur, and an edible hibiscus flower. Also noted with sparkling wine
and pear schnaps.
• Kir Pèche - made with peach liqueur.
• Pamplemousse - made with red grapefruit liqueur and sparkling white
wine, which gives a slightly tart alternative.
• Tarantino - made with lager or light ale ("kir-beer").