The Kir Royale Has A Connection To World War II

The Kir Royale is a classic French cocktail made with blackcurrant liqueur and champagne. It is a very popular drink in France and is served at all kinds of special events. But, what many don't know is that the Kir Royale has a deep connection to World War II and the French Resistance.

The first iteration of the drink, the Kir, was created during World War II by a French Resistance fighter named Canon Félix Kir. The original, war-time recipe for a Kir cocktail called for creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) mixed with a dry white wine called aligoté, a little-known variety from Burgundy. After the Nazis invaded Burgundy, they commandeered the region's celebrated red wines for themselves — or attempted to, anyways. French citizens resisting the occupation began to hide their finest wines to avoid serving them to the occupying Germans. Instead, they mixed Kir's recipe for a wine-based cocktail with the same deep red color as Burgundy wines, but made with considerably cheaper ingredients. Not used to fine French wine, most German soldiers couldn't tell the difference between a Kir cocktail and an authentic Burgundy vintage.

What is a Kir Royale and how can I make one?

The Kir cocktail was so successful that it became a symbol of the French Resistance and a popular drink all over the country. But, with the war over, France was understandably in a celebratory mood. And the most popular French wine for celebrations is Champagne, the bubbly delicacy that can only be made in the Champagne Valley. Wanting to celebrate their victory while honoring the sacrifice of French Resistance fighters, French bartenders began switching the flat aligoté for Champagne, but kept the creme de cassis in the recipe. This fancier variation became known as the Kir Royale. To this day, it is still served in France to commemorate the brave efforts of the French Resistance during World War II. So, the next time you enjoy a Kir Royale, remember the brave men and women who made it possible.

The Kir Royale is one of the easiest wine cocktails to make at home because it is just two ingredients: Champagne or sparkling white wine, and blackcurrant liqueur. Just pour one-third ounce of blackcurrant liqueur into the bottom of a flute glass, then top with Champagne until the glass is full. The carbonation will mix the ingredients on its own, no shaking or stirring required. Now you're ready to toast — vive la résistance!