Crème de Cassis is a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants. This particular liqueur originates from France and is mainly comprised of blackcurrants, sugar and refined alcohol. The modern version of the liqueur can be traced back to 1841 when it replaced the then popular beverage 'ratafia de cassis'. Crème de Cassis is also famously the preferred drink of Agatha Christie's fictional detective Hercule Poirot.
The quality of the liqueur often depends on the variety of fruit used, the content of the berries and the production process. Crème de Cassis is produced by crushing blackcurrants and soaking them in ethanol. Sugar is then added during the distillation process to combat the natural acidity of the berries. The liqueur is a specialty of the Burgandy region of France, although it is also produced in the Anjou region of France, in Luxembourg and also in Qubec. The type of berries used is often signified on the label of the liqueur. For example, 'Crème de Cassis de Dijon' is guaranteed to contain blackcurrants from Dijon, while 'Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne' would signify only berries from burgandy were used.
Crème de Cassis is a very versatile drink. It can be served straight up as a sweet after dinner drink, in which case it is best served at room temperature. However, if a cold drink is preferred it is also delicious served chilled over crushed ice. There also many drinkers who enjoy the liqueur served with coffee. Like other flavored liqueurs, it can also be mixed with other beverages for a wide array of delicious and exciting alcoholic cocktails.
The most famous use of Crème de Cassis is in a 'Kir Royale' cocktail which consists of one part of the blackcurrant liqueur topped with five parts champagne for a fruity, yet sophisticated drink. As a more contemporary alternative to the classic Kir Royale, many younger drinkers prefer a 'Kir Martini'. This consists of seven parts gin, two parts dry vermouth and one part Crème de Cassis served in a chilled glass and garnished with a twist of lemon. It is a little known fact that the Kir Royale drink is named after a mayor of Dijon called Fix Kir who decided that the popular drink "blanc-cassis", which consisted of white wine and blackcurrant liqueur, would be the only drink served during official receptions. Overtime the drink was renamed Kir after the mayor who had heavily promoted.
In a nod to the drinks fictional patron Poirot, there is also a cocktail called the 'Baltic Murder Mystery'. It combines equal parts of vodka and the blackcurrant flavored liqueur and is topped with 7-up soda or soda water. Another popular cocktail is a twist on the infamous Snake Bite (lager and cider). In a pint glass, combine a third of a pint of lager with the same amount of cider. Pernod and Crème de Cassis are poured into a shot glass which is then dropped into the pint glass before serving. This is referred to as a 'Snake Bite Bites Back'.