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

Kir royale
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Want a classic cocktail that’s simple 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 cocktails are rooted in simplicity, and there’s really nothing better than this two ingredient drink! Here’s the backstory 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 Champagne and crème de cassis, a black currant liqueur. It’s a variation on the Kir, the same drink made with white wine. The Kir was originally called blanc-cassis. It was renamed 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 devised the cocktail after the Nazis confiscated all the Burgundy region red wines, creating a drink with the available white wine that tasted like a red! Whatever the case, it was popularized by Kir and eventually caught on 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 crème de cassis, but you can also make it with other berry liqueurs. Here’s what’s you need for a Kir Royale:

  • Crème de cassis, or other 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? It ranges from inexpensive to expensive. You can find a 750 ml bottle for as low as $10 to $15. We like the brand Drillaud. Steer away from DeKuyper.
  • What cocktails use creme de cassis? It’s most popularly used in the Kir Royale. There are a few more cocktails you could try: the Kir, El Diablo, or use it in place of Chambord in a French Martini.

Why to buy great crème de cassis

How to make a great Kir Royale? Use a good bottle of crème de cassis (like Drillaud or others), or one of our preferred substitutes below. It’s not the case with all liquors, but a low quality bottle doesn’t have a strong, developed flavor. We found that out the hard way! A $10 bottle of cassis (DeKuyper) doesn’t have the ideal vibrancy in flavor.

Creme de cassis

Variations on the Kir Royale: use crème de mure or Chambord

There a few good substitutes for crème de cassis in a Kir Royale that bring in a bold and berry-forward flavor with lots of nuance! Here are two variations on the Kir Royale:

  • Crème de mure: Crème 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. It’s popular for use in a French Martini, and also great in Chambord and Champagne (essentially…a Kir Royale).
Kir royale

Use any sparkling wine

The Kir Royale is traditionally made with champagne: 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 some sparkling wine options 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

Once you’ve compiled all the ingredients, making a Kir Royale is a breeze! The only tip is to add the berry liqueur first, then add the bubbles. Typically we recommend adding 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 classic. 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


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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ounce crème de cassis (or substitute Chambord or crème de mure)*
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine** (Champagne, Prosecco, or other)
  • Raspberries, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

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

Notes

*Crème de cassis is the original; the flavor is also great with Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur, or crème de mure, a blackberry liqueur. See notes in the section above for more details.

**1 750 mL bottle sparkling wine serves 6 drinks. 

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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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