Food and Drink 

All mixed up! Summer time and the sippin’ is easy


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Not to be confused with a champagne cocktail, another favourite, a kir royale is made with brut champagne with a splash of crème de cassis — literally a splash, as in one part crème de cassis to nine or 10 parts champagne. Don’t let a flashy friend or bartender use more than that — it turns out sickeningly sweet. It’s traditionally served as an aperitif, but I say what the heck, enjoy it anytime. Use a flute or any tall skinny glass if you can, and while the jury is still out on this, I say pour in the crème de cassis first so the champagne bubbles it up. In summer, the colder the better.

We have Félix Kir, the mayor of Dijon, France from 1945 to ’68, to thank for the basic kir. It was his favourite aperitif — a crisp white burgundy with the locally made crème de cassis, a blackcurrant cordial made by French monks to “combat the affliction of wretchedness.” Like I said, enjoy it anytime.

A splash of crème de cassis is good in so many ways, even in a glass of cold mineral water or over vanilla ice cream with a bit of shaved dark chocolate on top. Just having the bottle on your shelf will make you feel classy — the label is a baroque work of art.


Tom Collins: The only drink I can ever remember my mother having for about the first 17 years of my life was a Tom Collins. Women wore slinky or frothy dresses to parties back then, and we have a classic photo in the family album of my very glamorous looking mom in a fancy number with a cobalt blue velvet bodice and huge meringue of a skirt, Tom Collins held jauntily in hand.

The Ultimate Book of Cocktails tells us that the Tom Collins was originally called the John Collins, after the head waiter at a London hotel in the early 19th century. The name morphed to “Tom” when it started being made with Old Tom gin. In fact, I’ve heard it ordered as an “Old Tom” in my earlier days as a cocktail waitress.

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