Well, actually, my husband can't stand Champagne in a cocktail, much less by itself, but that does not stop me from pouring some sparkly sweet bubbly when I feel like celebrating or being romantic. Lucky for me, today is Valentine's Day, which is the perfect time to indulge in a great bottle of Champagne! Maybe you've been meaning to buy your significant other a card, some flowers and candy or some sort of cute pink stuffed creature. Forget all that! Go to your local purveyor of alcoholic beverages and pick up some Champagne and a bottle of Crème de Cassis.
What the heck is Crème de Cassis, you ask? It happens to be the basis of one of my very favorite classic French cocktails, the Kir Royale (thats keer roy-al). This is a super simple and easy way to fanicify your regular old Champagne (not that champagne is ever really regular or old), while making it the perfect color for a day like Valentine's. So lets make one!
Crème de Cassis is a liquor made of blackcurrants. It is sweet and slightly tart and very thick and syrupy similar to a Port or dessert wine. Hence the name crème (cream) de cassis. You could drink it alone, but it would probably take a long time to get through a small amount and it is best used as a compliment to something else. Just fill your Champagne flute with as little or as much Cassis as you want. Typically, about an ounce is appropriate to flavor the drink correctly, but it really is up to taste. If you like more, add more!
Then, top the cassis with a good Champagne. It doesn't need to be real sweet, as the cassis will add that for you. A nice affordable Champagne is Moet & Chandon Impérial. It runs about $32.00, which is well worth it for a special occasion. I may or may not have sipped from the glass on the left already...I'm just sayin.
I like to accent the cocktail with a bit of fresh fruit, which you actually could freeze to be used as fruit "ice cubes". Here, I used a strawberry for color and for the obvious shape. If you could find black currants (which look sort of like smaller, darker blueberries), you could use those as well.
The French don't typically mess around with tradition, so while I'm going to tell you that its okay to use Prosecco (Italian Sparkling Wine) instead of Champagne, and to experiment with flavors...please do not tell my husbands very French family that I told you....I'm serious, its a secret between you and me. The above shot is some lovely liquors I got in the Alsace region of France. They are blackberry (crème de mûre), strawberry (fraise) and peach (pêche de vigne). You could also use Chambord, which is a popular raspberry liquor you can find at any major retailer. My latest flavor obsession though, is Elderflower and since I discovered St. Germain Elderflower liquor, I've been using that in anything I can get my hands on.
Here, I used the St. Germain instead of Cassis, which doesn't yield the same pretty pink hue, but sure tastes amazing. I decided to decorate this one with an edible flower, to better imply the flavor profile.
Just in case you happen to have some leftover Champagne, which if all goes well, you shouldn't ;) you can easily save the rest of the bottle for at least a week in the refrigerator with a super tight stopper. You want one that expands when closed. On the left you can see how the red rubber puffs out to create an airtight seal, and when opened, it retracts and slips right off the bottle. Be careful the first time you re-uncork your champagne, it will pop slightly because of the carbonation build up. As you open and close it throughout the week, it will lose its bubble, so try to finish it within 3-4 sittings.
Hope you enjoy this delicious and classic cocktail as much as I do! Now go give someone you love a big hug and tell them Happy Valentine's Day!!