Kir Impérial

Kir Royale

In honor of Valentine’s Day – and being one month away from the release of my new memoir (Eeee!!) – I went to the “way back” machine and dug up what I consider to be the most romantic of all French drinks: a Kir Impérial. There are only two things you need to know about Kir Impérial.

#1 It bubbles.

#2. It tastes like love.

Kir Royale

But… since I’m a front row kind of gal…

The Story Behind Kir

Once upon a time the Kir was actually called “vin blanc cassis” – which just means “white wine currants.” According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France. It mixed two of the region’s best drinks: an Aligoté wine (dry white wine) and cassis (black currant liqueur).

After World War II everything changed. A priest, who helped 5,000 people escape a prisoners of war camp, was knighted and elected as the mayor of Dijon. He always served vin blanc de cassis during official meetings and celebrations, in part because there was a red wine shortage.

His name was – you guessed it – Felix Kir.

The drink became named after him because… well… by all accounts he was awesome.

Felix Kir. Photo by Dijobb Beaune

Felix Kir. Photo from Dijon Beaune.


Kir:  dry white wine with cassis (black currant liqueur)
Kir Communard or Rince Cochon:  red wine and cassis
Kir Royale:  champagne or dry sparking white wine and cassis
Kir Impérial:  champagne or dry sparkling white wine and raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)

Today there are still other variations – like subbing the cassis for peach liqueur.

You can add as much of the sweet stuff as you’d like. I find a slight blushing of cassis or Chambord to be just right.

Chambord Liqueur

I enjoyed my Kir Impérial once at home, once at writer’s group, and once again while promoting my memoir in Chicago (at the ALA Mid Winter Conference). In Chicago, the Kir Impérial was the signature drink of the first author event I attended (I was honored with several prominent authors). Here are a few pictures from the weekend!

Here I am with National Geographic’s Marketing guru, as well as at a private author reception honoring me, Paolo Bacigalupi, Irvine Welsh, and one other. What a group to be included in!!

If you weren’t aware, Irvine Welsh wrote Trainspotting and a gazillion other books (he’s the tallest gentleman above), and Paolo Bacigalupi writes award-winning SciFi for adults and young adults (he’s wearing glasses).

There are more photos on my Instagram including one with me and Jason Segel and LeVar Burton.

Needless to say, I spent most of the weekend starry-eyed – what a gift to be included in the company of such great human beings and authors – especially as a first-time author.

Kir Impérial

Serves 6


1 750 ml bottle champagne (chilled)
1 small bottle Chambord
6- 12 raspberries (optional)


Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute – up to 10ml per person.

Next, add on the bubbly!

Enjoy with love in your heart!

Cheers – or, as they say in France… “Santé”!

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Once upon a time the Kir was actually called "vin blanc cassis" - which just means "white wine currants." According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France.Kir Impérial
  1. Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute - up to 10ml per person.
  2. Add the bubbly and enjoy.

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

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