Kir Imperial is a super-simple raspberry champagne cocktail. A variation on the Kir Royale, but with raspberry liqueur, it's bright, bubbly and perfect for a special occasion.
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There are some cocktails that are so good, they spawn a whole family of variations. Or at least, that's how I like to think of it. Sours are definitely one of them (like my own hibiscus mezcal sour and cranberry whiskey sour) as are negronis.
The Kir family is another.
What is a Kir cocktail?
A kir cocktail is made with creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and white wine. It's a classic French cocktail that's popular as an apéretif. The name comes from Felix Kir, once major of Dijon in Burgundy who helped to popularize the drink.
These days, one of the cocktail's many variations, Kir Royale, is probably more popular than the original (outside of France, at least). This variation is made with champagne instead of white wine and makes a great drink for celebrations.
Other variations include the Kir Normand, using cider from Normandy, and the Kir Pamplemouse using red grapefruit liqueur.
One thing that is true of all variations is that they are incredibly easy to make - generally just two ingredients - with a lovely fruity flavor.
Raspberry Kir cocktail
This raspberry-tinged variation on the theme is typically made with Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur, though you can use other raspberry liqueurs as well as the flavor will be similar.
Here I have used a homemade raspberry liqueur which worked wonderfully, giving that lovely bright color as well as flavor, even if not as complex as Chambord. Of course, use what you have or experiment.
How much fruit liqueur should you use?
The amount of fruit liqueur you use - in this case raspberry - is a little down to your taste. Traditionally, it would have been a relatively significant proportion of the drink (possibly ⅓) but these days, most find that too sweet.
The International Bartender Association's recipe for a Kir uses one part creme de cassis to nine parts wine. The proportions, it implies, are the same when using champagne. In France, you would probably find a larger proportion used, though still not as much as in the past.
Since raspberry liqueur tends to be on the sweeter side rather than sweet-tart, I have kept pretty close to the IBA proportions. It's enough to get the benefit of the flavor and color without taking over and being sickly-sweet. But you can definitely adjust to taste, and liqueurs vary too.
A Kir Imperial is a wonderfully easy, bright and bubbly cocktail. This raspberry champagne cocktail is that little more interesting than a plain glass of bubbly, and has a lovely gently fruity flavor. Perfect for a special occasion, or just because.
Try these other sparkling cocktails:
- Cava sangria
- Blueberry French 75 (combining lemon, a blueberry syrup, champagne and gin)
- Strawberry bellini
- Lillet spritz (combining Lillet and prosecco/other sparkling wine)
- Plus get more cocktail recipes in the archives.
Kir Imperial - raspberry champagne cocktail
- 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur 15ml, ½oz
- 4 oz champagne 120ml
- Pour the raspberry syrup into the bottom of a champagne flute or coupe glass.
- Top up the glass with champagne. Add a little more raspberry liqueur if you like, to taste.