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Almost everyone knows what a Kir Royal is; a flute of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and Champagne or sparkling wine.

But in Normandy and Brittany, the drink takes a decidedly regional turn, and becomes a Kir Normandy if made with Calvados (apple brandy), or Kir Breton, if made with Breton apple brandy, known as Lambig.

Rather than put them up against each other in a “Who wore it best?” face-off, I’d say we’re all better off appreciating their, and our, differences.

French and domestic apple cider has had a bit of a revival around the world. I’ve seen it in American supermarkets and at cider bars elsewhere, served in bottles and on tap. And the all-American sparking cider stalwart, Martinelli’s, has been around forever. It’s non-alcoholic and somewhat sweeter but could be used if you want a lower-key apéritif.

Apple cider is easily available in France (where there’s also a version just for kids, called Champomy, that comes in a bottle that looks like champagne) and if you’re in Paris, La Cidrerie has a spectacular selection of ciders from various regions in France, Europe, Switzerland, and the UK. I often pick up a bottle at the outdoor market; there’s usually an apple vendor there who has cider, too.

The Kir Normand is a lovely take on the traditional Kir Royal, and while the pictures I originally took of this apéritif disappeared on my memory card (which clearly didn’t live up to its name), it gave me a chance to make another one, which I was more than happy to do.

Kir Normand

Calvados is the famed apple brandy from Normandy. The equivalent in Brittany is Lambig. If you can't find either, you could use cognac, Armagnac, Applejack, or another brandy. Of course, you'd have to change the name of it...especially if you were serving it to someone from Normandy or Brittany! Versions do vary and I've seen some recipes without the brandy and others that use creme de peche (peach) or creme de mure (blackberry) in place of the creme de cassis.
Servings 1 cocktail
  • 2 teaspoons creme de cassis, (blackcurrant liqueur)
  • 2 teaspoons Calvados, or another brandy (see headnote)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup/125ml) sparkling hard apple cider, chilled
  • Pour the creme de cassis and Calvados into a champagne flute or tall wine glass.
  • Add the sparking cider.


    • Meg

    Interesting, I’ve never seen that one. Of course, I’m more familiar with a “trou normand” consumed halfway through a far too heavy meal! ;)

    • Sheila

    Do spirits go stale after a certain length of time?

      • Marianne

      I don’t know but I hope not. I’ve a semi-antique bottle of Amaretto Disaronno I opened maybe 20 years ago for the only tiramisu I ever made. I’m too cheap to throw it away yet.

      • sundevilpeg

      I don’t believe so. Both the sugar and the high alcohol content are preservatives. (Note that the Creme de Cassis pictured above is 18% alcohol, or 36 proof.)

    • stacy

    The name of this drink always makes me laugh. In Persian, kir means “phallus” — so kir royal, normand, or whatever, is an invitation to let my imagination run absolutely wild LOL. Thanks for the smile :)

    • Catherine

    Lovely. I have apple brandy from the Somerset Cider Brandy Company.

    • Ellen A.

    Anything made with Calvados is high on my list.
    Very much enjoyed your Instagram live this week with Romain making his delicious endive snacks, and your White Lady! You two are adorable together.

    • Fran Goldman

    Lovely spirits, but what happened to the food?

    • T7

    Love the glass you served this in! Can I ask what type of glass that is and the size? I’ve been looking for a glass like that but just can’t seem to find anything close to it. Many thanks

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It’s a bistro champagne flute, shorter and more durable than regular champagne flutes (as they’re made for restaurant use) – they are 17cl and you can see an example of them sold here.

        • T7

        Thank you and I truly appreciate the link! If I can’t find them here in NYC, then I’ll have a fun new adventure when I can return to France. :)

        Thank you again

    • Nic

    Ooh lovely, I’ve just bought some Calvados and a box of Bretagne cider which is gorgeous.

    • Jessica

    Delicious with session cider from Colorado Cider Company and a fresh bottle of budget Calvados bought expressly for Drinking French recipes!

    • Kirsty

    This was delicious! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Alexandre

    Come visit us in Chicago. Cider has been a thing here since the conestoga wagons rolled west. Good bars will have good ciders on tap, but only locals will know to ask for them. Fine Michigan apples grow just 75 miles east and supply a number of cideries that produce amazing ciders.

    Thanks for the recipe. For someone like me who yearns for cassis drink recipes, this was a true find.


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