Kir Cocktail & Variations

The silver lining to good friends moving out of town is that they bring all their leftover liquor to your house. This gesture not only leads to the farewell cookout you host for them involving a dangerous "create your own cocktail" station but also facilitates further experimentation in the weeks to come with types of booze you've heretofore ignored, such as crème de cassis.

We managed to finish most of the more mainstream spirits during our revelry, but a good ten ounces remained of the blackcurrant liqueur, which is why I ended up quelling my loneliness with Kir cocktails. Note the plural. Not just because I drank more than one but because the Kir cocktail comes in many different forms.

The only time I'd had a Kir cocktail was, appropriately, in Paris in an overpriced faux authentic cafe designed to appeal to naive tourists like myself. Their "Kir Royale" (crème de cassis + champagne) was perhaps the lone thing actually French about this joint, and I remember being amazed at how the wine added a wonderful fizziness to the richer, dark berry juice.

At home I had no champagne, or any sparkling wine, for that matter. What I did have was plain red wine and milk. The former I combined with kir to make a Cardinal, also known as a Communard cocktail. This drink was lovely though a bit too tannic for summer; I made a mental note to try it again in late autumn alongside some liverwurst.

Now, you might think my experimentation would end here since the only remaining liquid in my fridge was 1-percent milk. However, if there's one thing I've learned from Mad Men, it's that booze can be added to anything, including your morning dose of dairy.

Thus, I used my milk to make a Pink Russian. Straight up and with room-temperature spirits and milk, a Pink Russian tastes like a classier adult version of strawberry Yoo-hoo. Add a few ice cubes and mix with a shaker and the drink transforms into a frothy concoction with cleaner fruit flavors and a soothing booze aftertaste. And, as I discovered late another evening, a wonderful complement to Double-Stuf Oreos.

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Joanna O'Leary