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.
- 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.