On one of my first trips to France and with very little of the French tongue, I was sitting in a café in the town of Beaune. I suppose you could call this town the heart of the Bourgogne region, famous for 'Vin de Bourgogne'. I spotted the local clientele drinking what looked like red wine in small glass goblets. I asked what wine they were drinking and with a puzzled look the perplexed server blurted “Kir, Monsieur”. Being none the wiser and slightly embarrassed, I replied “deux Kir Monsieur s’il vous plait”. On arrival of the Kir, I tasted and discovered this was not in fact a not red wine. It was chilled and sweet. Later I discovered this was the local white wine made from the Aligoté grape which is harsh and acidic so they add a liqueur called Cassis (blackcurrant) to soften this wine. The Kir aperitif is consumed widely in France and has its moments here in Ireland today. This was my introduction to Crème de Cassis (Blackcurrant liqueur).
At Viking Irish Drinks we produce cider, Irish wine and yes you guessed it - Blackcurrant liqueur. Now we do not call it cassis as we are trying to be original. Our version is my own recipe, well I tell a little lie – the core part of the recipe was passed down by my late Mother, May Dennison, who apart for running a guesthouse and tea rooms in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare also produced all her fruit for jams and country wines made with Blackberry, Blackcurrant and raspberries.
I managed to get my hands on some of her recipes and using her recipe for her beautiful Blackcurrant port we enhanced the recipe further by using our own red wine and grape spirit. Viking Irish Blackcurrant liqueur was born in 2018
I would say my inspiration to create this liqueur inspiration came about after a short visit to New York for my God Daughter’s wedding in Brooklyn. On my return to Ireland, it was not the green, green grass of home - more like burnt grass as 2018 was one of the kindest summers we had (see my Irish wine from an Irish vineyard blog and it gives the real picture of that year). An anxious visit to the blackcurrant patch was my first port of call on my return, to my surprise and delight every branch was laden down with bulging sugary blackcurrants. I think we picked close on 500 kg of these violet beauties in the Summer of ’18.
To make one bottle of violet gold, we use 70 cl of red wine, 70 grams of fresh Blackcurrants and topped up with grape spirit which we finish to around 12.5% ABV.
What can you use it for? Kir of course. However this liqueur is a great all rounder in a cocktail bar and is beautiful paired with gins, vodkas and a personal favorite of mine is a decent measure of the liqueur over ice with a slice of lime and topped with elderflower tonic.
In the culinary world, adding a dash into homemade ice-cream is a game changer. Blackcurrant Ripple anyone? Alcoholic ice pops for the adults for the hot summer days? A drizzle over meringues and pavlovas work a treat. You can also use in stocks and gravies – it adds a beautiful depth and shine to a finished sauce
A favorite drinks recipe of mine:
- 12 cl of Viking Irish Harvest Blush
- One measure of Viking Irish Blackcurrant liqueur
- Half measure of brandy
- A martini glass or champagne coupe (chilled)
Add ice , Brandy & Blackcurrant liqueur to Cocktail Shaker add white of egg(Optional) Shake and pour into the glasses, followed by slowly pouring the Blush serve with a smile. (edited 27/12/2020)
Soda water can be used as a replacement for the Harvest blush, but use a full measure of liqueur.