Here’s how to make a Kir Royale! These tips make the very best version of this easy and sophisticated cassis cocktail.

Kir royale

Want an easy drink that’s festive and sophisticated? There’s nothing better than a Kir Royale! This famous French cocktail stars black currant liqueur and sparkling wine: and the berries and bubbles suit each other perfectly. The best cocktail recipes are simple perfection, and there’s nothing better than this 2 ingredient combination. Here’s the backstory behind this famous drink, and a few tricks to making the very best Kir Royale.

What’s a Kir Royale?

A Kir Royale is a French cocktail made with creme de cassis, a black current liqueur and Champagne. It’s a variation on the Kir, the same drink made with white wine. Like many cocktails, the exact origin story of this drink is unknown.

What we do know: it was named after a priest named Félix Kir, a hero of the French resistance during World War II and the mayor of the French town Dijon from 1945 to 1968. Some stories claim that Kir invented the cocktail after the Nazis confiscated all the Burgundy region wines. Whatever the case, it caught on and became popular all over France and more recently, around the world.

Kir Royale

Kir Royale ingredients

The Kir Royale is genius because it pairs the sweetness of berry liqueur with the acidity and effervescence of sparkling wine. It’s traditionally made with creme de cassis, but these days there are several alternatives that work even better. Here’s what’s you need for a Kir Royale:

  • Crème de cassis, or any berry liqueur like Chambord or Crème de Mure (see below)
  • Champagne, or other sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava

What is Crème de Cassis?

What’s Crème de cassis and is it worth buying a bottle? Here’s what to know:

  • Crème de cassis is a dark, sweet liqueur made black currants. It’s made in Burgundy, France and first became available in 1841.
  • How much does crème de cassis cost? A low quality bottle can be as low as $10. For the best Kir Royale, we suggest getting a higher quality bottle in the $30 range that’s actually from France.
  • What cocktails use creme de cassis? It’s most popularly used in the Kir Royale. There are a few more cocktails you could try: make a Cassis Spritz (substitute it for Aperol in an Aperol Spritz), substitute it for Chambord in a French Martini, or in an El Diablo.

Why to buy great Crème de Cassis

How to make a great Kir Royale? Use great Crème de Cassis, or one of our preferred substitutes below. It’s not the case with all liquors, but a low quality bottle of Creme de Cassis doesn’t have a strong, developed flavor. We found that out the hard way! A $10 bottle of cassis just doesn’t taste that good. Here’s what’s even better…

Creme de Mure
The best Kir Royale? Use Chambord or Creme de Mure!

The best Kir Royale: use Creme de Mure or Chambord

There are two substitutes for cassis in a Kir Royale that we like even better than the standard. Why? The flavor is bold and berry-forward, with lots of nuance! We preferred both choices to the cassis in a back to back taste test. Here’s what to use for the best Kir Royale:

  • Creme de Mure: Creme de Mure is a blackberry liqueur with a bold berry flavor. It’s most popular for inclusion in the classic cocktail the Bramble. Try a sip on its own: you won’t be able to resist exclaiming! The flavor is so pure and sweet, it’s shout-worthy.
  • Chambord: Chambord is a French black raspberry liqueur that’s been made since 1685. It’s most popularly used in a French Martini, and is also great in Chambord and Champagne (essentially…a Kir Royale).
Kir royale

Use any sparkling wine

The Kir Royale is traditionally made with champagne: aka French sparkling wine! But these days, there are lots more choices for the sparkling wine component of this famous drink. We prefer Prosecco to champagne because a great bottle is cheaper, and we like the flavor even better. (For more, see Prosecco vs Champagne.) Here are the best sparkling wines to use in a Kir Royale:

  • Champagne: French sparkling wine. It tastes bubbly and fruity, with undertones of almond and orange. It’s typically the most expensive sparkling wine.
  • Prosecco: Italian sparkling wine. It’s a little sweeter than champagne and has lighter bubbles. It’s fruity and flowery, with notes of apple, pear and lemon.
  • Cava: Spanish sparkling wine. It has more citrus notes, and is a little more savory and less fruity.

Making a Kir Royale: add the sparkling wine last

And that’s it! Once you’ve compiled all the ingredients, making a Kir Royale is a breeze! The only tip to remember is to add the cassis, Chambord or Creme de Mure first, then add the bubbles. Typically we like to add the sparkling wine first: this avoids overfilling the glass with out of control champagne bubbles. But for this drink, the fizzy bubbles make the drink look ultra festive!

Kir Royale

When to serve a Kir Royale

The Kir Royale is sophisticated and classy! Though it’s a champagne cocktail, it’s generally served in the evening and not for brunch. It’s great for serving as a:

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Kir royale

Best Kir Royale


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make a Kir Royale! These tips make the very best version of this easy and sophisticated cassis cocktail.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ounce Creme de Cassis (best quality), Chambord or Creme de Mure (we like Creme de Mure)*
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine (Champagne, Prosecco, or other)
  • Raspberries, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pour the Creme de Cassis, Chambord, or Creme de Mure into a champagne glass. Top it off with the sparkling wine.
  2. Garnish with raspberries if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

*Creme de Cassis is the classic choice, but make sure to buy a high quality bottle (lower quality makes a less tasty drink). The flavor is even better with Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur, or it’s very best with Creme de Mure, a blackberry liqueur. See notes in the section above for more details.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Poured
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Kir royale, cassis cocktail

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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