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Not to be confused with a champagne
cocktail, another favourite, a kir royale is made with brut champagne with a
splash of crème de cassis — literally a splash, as in one part crème de cassis
to nine or 10 parts champagne. Don’t let a flashy friend or bartender use more
than that — it turns out sickeningly sweet. It’s traditionally served as an
aperitif, but I say what the heck, enjoy it anytime. Use a flute or any tall
skinny glass if you can, and while the jury is still out on this, I say pour in
the crème de cassis first so the champagne bubbles it up. In summer, the colder
We have Félix Kir, the mayor of
Dijon, France from 1945 to ’68, to thank for the basic kir. It was his
favourite aperitif — a crisp white burgundy with the locally made crème de
cassis, a blackcurrant cordial made by French monks to “combat the affliction
of wretchedness.” Like I said, enjoy it anytime.
A splash of crème de cassis is good
in so many ways, even in a glass of cold mineral water or over vanilla ice
cream with a bit of shaved dark chocolate on top. Just having the bottle on
your shelf will make you feel classy — the label is a baroque work of art.
The only drink I can ever remember my mother having for
about the first 17 years of my life was a Tom Collins. Women wore slinky or
frothy dresses to parties back then, and we have a classic photo in the family
album of my very glamorous looking mom in a fancy number with a cobalt blue
velvet bodice and huge meringue of a skirt, Tom Collins held jauntily in hand.
Ultimate Book of Cocktails
tells us that the Tom Collins was originally called the
John Collins, after the head waiter at a London hotel in the early 19th
century. The name morphed to “Tom” when it started being made with Old Tom gin.
In fact, I’ve heard it ordered as an “Old Tom” in my earlier days as a cocktail