The Cassis Story… And Some Nice Recipes

Caught in the currant 

(Extract: The Age, Epicure February 3, 2004)

A French mayor combined two unpopular drinks to create a superb aperitif. …

Politicians could learn a thing or two from Felix Kir, especially those who want to stay in office. Kir was mayor of Dijon, France, the capital of Burgundy, for 23 years, from 1945 to 1968. His secret? A little cassis cordial. Kir, who loved to entertain, always served the vin blanc-cassis aperitif at official receptions. As time passed, the aperitif took his name and became known simply as kir.

Recipe for Kir 
One part creme de cassis to be poured into a glass, followed by four parts white burgundy wine.

For the sparkling version, Kir Royale, replace white wine with champagne

(The sweet flavour of cassis is nicely rounded off with any young, dry sparkling wine.)

History of Crème de Cassis

The same soil and climate that produce the elegant wines of Burgundy also nurture blackcurrants until they are exploding with flavour The blood-red sweet liqueur was used as a cure for jaundice and “wretchedness”. Creme de cassis was used to soften, aromatise and improve a rough-hewn base wine made from Burgundy’s aligote grape, which is often viewed as the poor cousin to the more elegant chardonnay-based white burgundies.

Cassis production increased in the mid-19th century when the phylloxera infestation destroyed European grapevines. As a result, blackcurrants, which had always been grown in the limestone-rich soil alongside the vines in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or region, became an important crop.

Although creme de cassis is made around the world, its true home is Dijon and specifically in the government-designated appellation Cassis de Dijon. Of the 20 million bottles produced in France annually, 17 million come from Dijon. They comprise 22 per cent of French liqueurs on the market worldwide, and sales are growing by 4 per cent annually.

Other Cassis Cocktails

Ballet Russe

2 Shots Vodka

0.75 Crème De Cassis

3 Teaspoons Caster Sugar

1 Shot Lime Juice

0.5 Shot Lemon Juice

Shake with ice cubes and strain into a martini glass

Pacific Cargo

1.5 Shots Crème De Cassis

2 Shots Orange Juice

2 Shots Pineapple Juice

0.5 Shot Lemon Juice

Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a tumbler glass half filled with ice. Garnish with black currants

Liquid Art


1 Shot Apricot Brandy

2 Shots Crème De Cassis

0.5 Shot Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Red Haze


1.5 Shots Cointreau

1 Shot Crème De Cassis

Top up Sparkling Mineral Water

Half fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the Cointreau and then the Crème De Cassis. Top up with sparkling mineral water and stir gently.