All You Need To Know About Creme De Cassis – A Burgundian Liqueur

A fruit liqueur! Well, that doesn’t sound so attractive. But Creme de cassis is an exception; this liqueur has a delectable taste as those of blackberries actually quite better than that. Although, its name might sound like something old stacked in a dusty storeroom this one’s a backbone for many cocktails.

What is Crème de cassis?

Crème de cassis is a sweet liqueur with fruity flavors. It’s being With a French origin this liqueur is an aperitif used in many cocktails like the popular Kir and desserts like cakes and ice-creams. ‘Cassis’ is a French term that means ‘Blackcurrant’ which is a type of berry. A liqueur made up of berries? Let’s see what it’s past looks like.

What is Crème de cassis

The story behind the liqueur

Crème de cassis was known as Ratafia before which is an Arabic term for fruit liqueur. The commercial production of the cassis started in 1841 in Dijon, Burgundy, France. It was such a hit that till today the distilleries in France produce around 16 million tons of it on an annual basis.

The United States first imported the liqueur from France but later in the late nineteenth century, they started growing blackcurrants. The U.S. distilleries made their version of the fruit liqueur. But some years later the federal government banned the production of blackcurrants. This happened because the berries carried with it white pine blister rust which is harmful for timber and it was affecting the logging industry. Although production stopped in America but then they started importing it again.

Later in 1966 when the disease-resistant strains were introduced in the, the federal government lifted the ban. Moreover, the local governments were given an option to lift it or not in their particular states. However, the cassis didn’t have a former reputation anymore.

Credit goes to Canon Felix Kir for the revival of Crème de cassis in America. He was the mayor of Dijon till 1968, to deal with problematic exports in the period he discovered a cocktail named Kir. It was a mix of white wine and crème de cassis and became an instant hit!

What is crème de cassis made of?

Blackcurrant is the major ingredient of this liqueur, the other ones being high spoof spirit and sugar. The process starts with crushing the berries and then infusing them with some alcohol followed by maceration. Although, this is a liqueur produced in a distillery and seems a little complicated you can make it at your home too. Here is what you’ll need-

Crème de cassis ingredients –

  1. Black currants – 2 cups
  2. Red currants – 1 cup
  3. High proof neutral spirit – 750 ml
  4. Cane sugar – 2 cups
  5. Water – 1 cup

How to make Crème de cassis?

  1. First, take a big bowl (non-reactive) and mash both the berries in it, make them pulpy.
  2. Now add the spirit and stir it with a wooden spoon. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for the next 24 hours at room temperature.
  3. After the time period, open the wrap and mash the mixture again. Refrigerate it for the next 7-10 days until it acquires a deep color.
  4. Next, take it out from the fridge and strain the mixture into a glass jar.
  5. Now take a saucepan. Put sugar and water to make syrup. Allow the sugar to dissolve completely and let it cool.
  6. Pour the syrup in the glass jar filled with the mixture and stir well. Keep it refrigerated for 3 months.  

What does crème de cassis taste like?

A substance made from berries, high proof spirit, and cane sugar, what do you think it will taste like? Sugary of course! The liqueur has a deep magenta color with flavors of berries and a very sweet taste. One cannot drink it neat; it is mixed with wine or champagne. It works like sugar syrup, to be precise alcoholic sugar syrup flavored with berries!

Some good brands –

Classic French brands like Lejay, Briottet, Mathilde, and Gabriel Boudier Dijon are worth a try. Other good brands for cassis are Tuthilltown and clear creek which are of American origin.

Alcohol content

The liqueur contains a minimum alcohol strength 15% ABV which is quite low. The EU law stated the minimum ABV for the drink along with the quantity of other ingredients too.

Nutritional facts

1.5 oz i.e., 46g of the cassis contains 110 calories with zero fats and 15g sugar. The total calorie intake depends on the alcohol with which it is combined with.

What is a good substitute for Crème de cassis?

So if you don’t have crème de cassis in stock, then you’ll probably need some Crème de cassis substitutes. However, the liqueur has a unique flavor that can’t be replaced by any other thing. Still, you can use black currant syrup or raspberry liqueur such as Chambord under such circumstances of unavailability.

How to drink crème de cassis?

The liqueur is normally mixed with cocktails but it is also served straight after dinner. It can also be combined with plain soda or lemonade to give them a sweet alcoholic touch.

Some Crème de cassis cocktails

The liqueur is an all-time favorite when it comes to sweetening cocktails. Here we have such crème de cassis drinks recipes that you can try at home.

Kir royale

A swirl of two amazing ingredients makes this cocktail so amazing and everyone’s favorite. This one’s a French cocktail that also acts as an aperitif. Here’s what you’ll need – 

  • Crème de cassis – 4 tablespoons
  • Champagne or a wine – To fill the glass
  • Berries – To garnish

To prepare Kir Royale –

  • First, put crème de cassis in a flute glass in the given quantity.
  • Now pour champagne or wine to the fill and garnish.

Classic Vermouth Cassis

A light simple cocktail, this is a much-needed drink when you need refreshment. It’s a lightly sweetened sparkly cocktail and has a low alcohol content. Here’s what you’ll need – 

  • Dry vermouth – 3 oz
  • Crème de cassis – 4 oz
  • Club soda – to fill the glass

To make Vermouth Cassis –

  • First, take a Collins glass and put some ice in it.
  • Next, add dry vermouth and crème de cassis to it.
  • Now fill the glass with soda and serve!

Ballet Russe

A simple blend of three ingredients, here’s what you’ll need –

  • Vodka – 2 oz
  • Crème de cassis – 0.5 oz
  • Lime juice – 0.5 oz

To make Ballet Russe cocktail –  

  • First, put all the three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake for around 15 seconds and strain it in a cocktail glass.
  • Finally, garnish it with a lime wedge and serve.

El Diablo

This one’s a delectable concoction with beer in it. Here’s a simple recipe to try at home. You’ll need –

  • Tequila Reposado – 1.5 oz
  • Ginger beer – 3 oz
  • Crème de cassis – 0.5 oz
  • Lime juice – 0.5 oz

To make El Diablo cocktail –

  • First, take a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice.
  • Now except ginger beer add all the other ingredients in it. Shake well and strain the mixture in a Collins glass with ice.
  • Top it with ginger beer and garnish it with lime wedge or blueberries.

Apple sunrise

No wonder why this cocktail contains the word ‘sunrise’, it is yellow in color with shades of red at bottom and top. A fruity concoction of some juices, here’s what you’ll need to make one –

  • Calvados – 5 oz
  • Crème de cassis – 1.5 oz
  • Lemon juice – 1 oz
  • Orange juice – To fill the glass

To make an apple sunrise cocktail –

  • First add lime juice, calvados, and cassis in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  • Shake it well and strain the mixture in a highball glass.
  • Finally, top it with orange juice and dribble a little cassis on the top for texture.
  • At last, garnish it with an apple wedge and serve.

There are many more recipes available to make cocktails using Crème de cassis. You can even make one of your own, just keep experimenting!

A bottle of this liqueur comes with the label “Crème de cassis de Dijon” which means it contains blackcurrants grown in the Dijon region of France. Blackcurrant’s tart and the mildly acidic flavor is what sets the cassis apart from other fruit liqueurs. Its survival for over 150 years is enough to prove how versatile it is. So the next time you come across a Crème de cassis at a store, don’t hesitate to pick it up. One liqueur can serve many purposes and trust us, you’ll be glad that you bought it!

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