Friday, August 17, 2007

A Crème de Cassis Tasting & Five Cassis Cocktails



August 15th marked one month since I’d set aside my blackcurrants with vodka, sugar, and a little cinnamon to steep and hopefully become Crème de Cassis in time for me to enjoy a homemade version of my favorite summer drink, the Kir. To read my post about the history of this Burgundian liqueur and of the Kir itself, click here.

On August 16th, I took the jar of decadently purple pulp from the sunny spot on our living room floor it’s been occupying for the past 4 weeks (dinner guests be damned), strained out a tentative draught along with a control glass of my favorite Trénel Fils Crème de Cassis, and sipped.


And I have to say, I’m thrilled with the results. Both are warming when drunk neat, but while my beloved Trénel Fils is so deeply purple that it’s almost brown, the homemade liqueur is shamelessly violet-magenta and flecked with blackcurrant pulp despite a good straining. The entire batch needs to be squeezed through several layers of cheesecloth before being bottled.

The nose on the homemade Cassis has much more alcohol in it, but it’s bright and mouth-wateringly fruity, as is the simple burst of flavor, while the syrupy Trénel Fils is smoother and smells as alluringly and mysteriously “hedgerow-ish” as blackcurrants should. The Trénel Fils flavor is rich and almost smoky, with an unexpected herbal note, while the homemade liqueur has far more red fruit and just a breath of cinnamon.

Once mixed with cool white wine to assess Kir potential, the homemade Crème de Cassis turns the whole thing riotously pink – a color evocative of strawberries – while the more elegant Trénel Fils predictably produces a more subtle cocktail. The Trénel Fils also really stands out – completely recognizable as it hums through the white wine. Though equally cooling and calming in a Kir, the homemade Cassis melds with the wine more. After all, it is a far less complex and sophisticated liqueur.

But I love it for that. I wouldn’t dream of replacing my Trénel Fils altogether, but I’m ecstatic to have this honest, punchy, ruby Créme de Cassis in the liquor cabinet too. To help you enjoy your Crème de Cassis to its fullest, there are 5 cocktail recipes below: 3 rustic and 2 more complex, but all authentically French. In addition to cocktails, the Cassis will be delicious over ice cream, folded into whipped cream, soaked into trifles, and even drizzled into pan sauces once game season really kicks in.

Blackcurrants are still being harvested around these parts, and you can find my Crème de Cassis recipe here. As always, check Local Harvest’s Farmers’ Market Finder if you’re not sure where to search for blackcurrants.


Kir
Pour 2 tbsp Crème de Cassis into a wine glass. Top up with 4 oz. chilled white wine.

Kir Royale
Pour 1 tbsp Crème de Cassis into a champagne flute. Top up with your normal pour of champagne.

Communist
Pour 2 tbsp Crème de Cassis into a wine glass. Top up with 4 oz. Pinot Noir. Perfect for autumn.

Brandy Cassis
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ oz. brandy
1 tbsp Crème de Cassis
twist of lemon peel

Pour the first 3 ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a martini or rocks glass. Garnish with the twist of lemon peel.

Parisienne

¾ oz. gin
2 tbsp Crème de Cassis
¾ oz. vermouth

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Stir well. Strain into a martini or rocks glass and garnish with a single ice cube.

27 comments:

tribecachef said...

Brandy Cassis with fresh lemon sounds like a must try to me. Glad the experiment was a success!

Joanne Rendell said...

more alcoholic ribena. love it. bring some in a brown bag on monday...please!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Tribecachef, thank you! I have to say it was most gratifying, and I agree that the fresh lemon juice makes that brandy cassis all the more appealing. I'm a lemon nut though.

Jo, would the lady like it mixed with some white wine or straight up? We'll be the poshest brown bag boozers in the whole park. And that's saying something in the West Village ; )

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

Liqueur de cassis. It reminds me of the bottle that needs to be used. Lovely colors!

Wendy said...

Creme de cassis reminds me a wonderful Hogmany in Paris drinking kir royale in a tiny family bar before spending the bells sitting on the steps of the opera house drinking champagne straight from the bottle and watching the world go by. It was magical. :)
Will have to try and make some!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Bea, aren't the colors amazing? And the paper I used to funnel the cassis into a bottle turned an altogether different shade of blue! Hope these recipes come in handy.

Wendy, that sounds, as you say, magical! Everything about it sounds infinitely perfect: the tiny family bar, the opera house, Paris at night. I just got goosebumps. Infinitely more romantic than dragging up and down the avenue here in New York in icy winds, looking for a cab to the next cocktail party. True, I met my better half on New Year's Eve, but I think that was the first time that night went right for me in a decade! How lovely to have a night like yours to remember each time you have a kir royale!

Mimi said...

Lovely! I have become rather fond of cassis these days and these drinks really appeal to me.

The rest of your blog is lovely, too. I am adding it to my blogroll and I expect to be a frequent visitor.

Joanna said...

WONDERFUL post - thank you! I am now feeling very cross with myself for not having done this while there were blackcurrants in the garden. So now I shall have to find some in the market ...



Joanna

Cynthia said...

I am swooning here with the heady aroma. Amanda, you are soooo good!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Mimi, Welcome! I've been enjoying kirs all summer for years, but when the weather starts to turn, the Communist cocktail is my favorite aperitif! Looking forward to checking out your site and thanks so much for the kind words!

Joanna, thank you! I'm sure there must be plenty left in the markets for you, and you must let me know how your cassis turns out. Now that we're nearing autumn, I'm obsessed with communists! (the cocktail, I mean...)

Cynthia, thank you so much! The fragrance is heavenly - there's nothing like blackcurrants!

Lucy said...

Ah, I wondered what you'd be doing with it. Pleased it stands up so well to the Trénel Fils, something I have a deep and abiding passion for too!

Garrett said...

Sounds tasty! Never tried the stuff, but now I am in such want for it now!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Lucy, isn't the Trenel Fils fantastic? But I like having the option of something fruitier and less sophisticated too. I just hope it lasts the year - we're already working through it alarmingly quickly...

Garrett, I can only imagine the cupcakes and other baked goods you could dream up with a bottle of the stuff! Let me know if you get your hands on some.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Amanda! I am so glad that you are so happy with the results! It looks beautiful and sounds even better!

Barbara said...

We don't get blackcurrants here. Do you think I could make it with blueberries? I have a bottle of orange/coffee liqueur steeping at the moment. I think it is called 44 because it uses 44 coffee beans and you steep it for 44 days. It will be ready around the middle of September.

jan said...

Amanda, what beautiful colors! The version with pinot noir does sound perfect for this time of year, as you say.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jenn, thank you! Aren't you kind.

Barbara, I've never heard of 44, but it sounds fantastic. Can't wait to hear about the results with that. For the Creme de Cassis, it's only authentic with blackcurrants, but why not try making a liqueur with blueberries as you suggest? It would be completely different, but probably delicious. If you want to do something more traditional, the region had a red fruit ratafia for hundreds of years before creme de cassis was created. Cherries and other red fruits are all thrown into the mix depending on what's available. Carolyn at 18th Century Cuisine has an authentic recipe for it that she posted in July:
http://18thccuisine.blogspot.com/
Let me know if you make something!

Jan, thank you! We've really been enjoying the communists!

Jen said...

This brings me back to living in southern Russia where everyone had some bottle of homemade liqueur, or several, that were there to try. They were delicious, and probably not strained enough, but that was part of what I liked about them.

The way you wrote this, I could absolutely "taste" the comparisons.

Lovely piece!

Patricia Scarpin said...

There's a dessert here (I don't know where it comes from) that is just a bowl with some papaya cream (you blend papaya + vanilla ice cream) drizzled with cassis liquor. People love it!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jen, thank you! That sounds absolutely fabulous! I love all the homemade variations! What varieties did you enjoy best? I think the pulp is such a treat - I really don't mind it at all! Plus I imagine it continues to add flavor over the months.

Patricia, what a fabulous flavor profile! I really adore papaya. I'll do mine over plates of sliced oranges this winter, and I'm thinking it'll be nice over melon for the next couple of months. Thanks for letting me know about that dish! I'm really looking forward to trying it.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Gasp, I am so very impressed with you. I so wish I could do brilliant things like make my own brandy cassis. Wowza.

PS Linking you.

Aileen said...

How fun! Your site never ceases to amaze me. And I love this post in particular - it incites all sorts of fun ideas! I made a cloudberry cordial at the start of summer. The recipe was inspired as a solution to the legal conundrum of a local option law that makes it illegal to brew or distill, but lets us ship in brewed and distilled alcohol. It turned out beautiful in color, sweet in perfume. Alas, it is not a cordial for casual sipping. But, with champagne....Cloudberry Royale? Hmmmm.... I shall ponder. Meanwhile, I shall do my best to find my way to a supply of blackcurrents. I just love the idea of such a well-earned Kir Royale! And I love that it follows a recipe that doesn't risk a visit from the troopers with a bootlegging charge! Thank you, again, for another fine idea!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Maryam, you can! It's incredibly simple. But thank you and I'm already linked to you too!

Aileen, I would never forgive myself if you were charged with bootlegging! Cloudberry Royale sounds delicious, and if you can just buy the vodka there, it sounds like you'll be fine popping in a few blackcurrants and letting it steep a while. Let me know what happens though!

Joanna said...

FABULOUS - and I love the idea of the Communist! That's aperitifs for lunch sorted!

Thanks Amanda ... and I'm going to see if I can find a few blackcurrants to make some of my own, because it sounds such fun

Figs Olives Wine said...

Joanna, it IS so fun! Extremely satisfying - maybe it's the beautiful color? I don't know what it is, but I have to tell you that the Communist is my new favorite drink. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have been!

winedeb said...

Amanda, sorry I am a bit late in responding. I am playing catch up today since I have not been on line for a week due to my traveling home to Key West. Then when I arrived here, computer difficulties. Anyhow...
Going thru your posts this one caught my eye! I remember in my travels to Paris and the area, before I would head home to the States, I would purchase those tiny travel or would you call them one or two drink bottles. Cassis was and still is my favorite! I must try the one with the Pinot Noir!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Winedeb, welcome home! Or at least to your other home! Do you use the Trenel Fils cassis? I highly recommend it, and the pinot noir Communist is my absolute favorite these days. I keep urging all my friends to try it because it's so perfect for the late summer and autumn. Let me know if you try one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...