With just three ingredients, the Kir Royale is proof that less can be more. An elegant drink that’s super easy to craft at home, this Champagne cocktail is appropriately festive for any holiday or special occasion.
The Kir Royale isn’t your typical cocktail.
With firm roots in France, it’s a cocktail that’s as easy to craft as it is elegant to serve. This is a drink that makes a statement thanks to it’s two main ingredients – bubbly Champagne and sweet Créme de Cassis.
The magic (And who doesn’t like magic?) happens when Champagne and Crème combine in a glass.
History of the Kir Royale
The Kir Royale’s history is filled with intrigue.
It involves a Catholic priest who saved numerous lives as a resistance fighter during World War Two. While Canon Felix Kir gets credit for both the Kir and Kir Royale cocktails, he wasn’t the first to combine Champagne and Crème de Cassis. But his version is the one that’s withstood the test of time.
Kir (the man) combined Lejay Cassis produced in Dijon and local Burgundian wine to craft his original Kir (the cocktail). However, it wasn’t much of a stretch for the Dijon priest to replace that white wine with Champagne to create the sparkling ‘royal’ version.
The rest, as they say, is history.
What Is a Kir Royale?
The Kir Royale is a popular pre-dinner apértif in France where both Champagne and Crème de Cassis are readily available. The classy cocktail achieved global fame over the years and now appears on cocktail bar menus around the world.
Served in a flute, the sparkling rose-colored drink is swanky enough to serve at a wedding. However, the Kir Royale’s recipe is so simple that it’s tempting to craft a couple at home and enjoy them with a cheese plate and nibbles.
Kir Royale Ingredients
If you count the Kir Royale’s ingredients on one hand, you’ll have two fingers left over. These are the sparkling cocktail’s only ingredients:
Technically, you only need Champagne and Crème de Cassis to craft a Kir Royale. Accordingly, you don’t want to use lesser substitutes. As the saying goes: What you put in is what you get out.
While you could use any sparkling wine to craft a Kir Royale, Champagne is the sparkler you want to use. Not only is Champagne specific to the Champagne region of France, but it’s also sparkling wine royalty.
Champagne producers must follow strict rules when they produce the bubbly elixir with chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir grapes. Their production process involves two fermentations, one in a tank and one in the bottle, before the Champagne is aged, riddled and disgorged.
Make no mistake. Champagne is a luxury product. However, savvy shoppers can purchase half-bottles for this recipe which is what we did when we bought a half-bottle of Taittinger. It’s best to look for the AOC label since there are a number of great bubblies from the Champagne region.
Craft your Kir Royale with a Cremant from Burgundy if you want to drink something even more area specific than just France.
Crème de Cassis
While the French have been producing and drinking Crème de Cassis for centuries, our history with the blackcurrant liqueur dates back a decade.
We started buying the fruity liqueur in Philadelphia after friends gave us a a taste from their precious bottle. Our infatuation manifested and eventually took us to the Cassissium, an immersive Cassis museum in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
More recently, we bought a bottle of Leon Gonay’s Crème de Cassis for this and other recipes. Not only was it produced in Dijon in Burgundy, but the bottle was also available at our local market.
How to Craft a Kir Royale Cocktail at Home
Step 1: Measure the Crème de Cassis.
Step 2: Pour the measured Crème de Cassis directly into a Champagne flute.
Click here to buy Champagne flutes if you don’t have some already.
Step 3: Open the Champagne bottle carefully. Be sure to direct the bottle away from your eyes and any lighting fixture before you pop the cork!
But, seriously, it’s best to use both hands to open the bottle, twisting the cork while gently liberating it from the top.
Step 4: Pour the Champagne into the flute glasses.
Be careful as you pour the Champagne. We recommend filling the glass half way to the top and then topping it off once the initial bubbles settle.
Drop a raspberry into the glass and drink immediately.
Kir Royale Alternatives
Crafting a Kir Royal is incredibly easy with no shaking or stirring required. However, it might not be the drink for you if you’re not a Crème de Cassis fan
One option is to replace the Crème de Cassis with either Crème de Framboise or Chambord. Another option is to craft one of the following sparkling cocktails:
Kir Royale Recipe
Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Daiquiri, Diplomat, Eggnog, Espresso Martini, French 75, G+T, Gibson, Gimlet, Grasshopper, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Irish Coffee, Last Word, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Martinez, Mauresque, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Revolver, Sidecar, Spicy Margarita, Tomate, Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Sour, White Lady and White Russian cocktail recipes.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.