The Kir Imperial is a classic French cocktail that's perfect for adding a touch of elegance to any occasion! This crisp and delicious drink is a twist on the traditional Kir and Kir Royale cocktails. The sweet and tart flavors of Chambord raspberry liqueur go perfectly with bubbly Champagne.
This cocktail recipe is both simple and elegant, making it the perfect choice for a New Year's Eve toast. It's also a delicious choice for a Valentine's Day celebration, or for any fancy occasion!
Love Champagne cocktails? Try out the Vodka Champagne Cocktail, or a Blood Orange Mimosa. Or, the classic French 75 and French 76 cocktails are always a hit. All are delicious bubbly cocktails (and perfect for New Year's Eve).
History of the Kir Imperial
Originating from France, the Kir Impérial is a fancier twist on the classic Kir cocktail, which was named in the 1840's for Félix Kir, a French mayor. The Kir uses white wine and blackcurrant liqueur, also known as Crème de Cassis.
Switching out white wine with Champagne lifts the drink with bubbles and a yeasty note. Changing the Creme de Cassis for Chambord liqueur brings a whole different berry flavor to the drink.
Chambord is a sweet liqueur, and it's flavored with raspberries, blackberries and some blackcurrants too. Compared to Creme de Cassis, it has more of a tangy and fresh flavor.
This mix of sweet and tart berry flavors works really well in lots of cocktails (like the Chambord Margarita), and really goes perfectly with the Champagne!
You'll just need a couple of ingredients to make the drink:
- Champagne - since this is a French drink, you know this one calls for Champagne! A dry, or "brut", Champagne works best. Go for a non-vintage Champagne like Laurent-Perrier La Cuve Blend. Personally, I used an extra dry Carpene Malvolti Prosecco, which was delicious.
- Chambord - this black raspberry liqueur brings a lot of sweetness and flavor.
- Fresh raspberries - although these are an optional garnish, they give just the right touch of natural raspberry flavor, and make the drink feel luxurious too!
Here are some substitution ideas:
- Champagne - you can use any sparkling wine here, but Cava or Prosecco are your best options. Look for a "dry" or "brut" style, since we are adding sweetness.
- Chambord - you can always substitute this liqueur for Creme de Cassis, although technically you'll be making a Kir Royale! You can substitute this with any raspberry liqueur, though, like Drillaud Creme de Framboise.
Since this is such a simple recipe with only two ingredients, there are many variations you can make. Here are some ideas to switch things up:
- Non-Alcoholic version - try using a raspberry syrup along with one of these best reviewed non-alcoholic champagne bottles.
- Blackberry - add a fresh blackberry along with the raspberry for a pretty garnish.
- Juice - in addition to the liqueur, try adding in a splash of juice, like pomegranate juice. Cranberry juice would be good as well for a more acidic and tart drink.
- Edible glitter - adding some clear Brew glitter would make this drink so fun, especially for New Year's Eve!
If possible, start out by chilling your ingredients for about 30 minutes. Since we're not using ice in this drink, this is key for a crisp sip!
Add the raspberry liqueur to your glass. Then, pop open your Champagne! (I use a Champagne bottle opener, which is great if you have a hard time getting out the cork without making a mess.)
Pour the Champagne into your glass. You can optionally give everything a gentle stir with a bar spoon.
Add in your fresh raspberry garnish.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Hint: Besides chilling your Champagne and the liqueur, you can also chill your serving glass! This will keep the drink colder longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
The main difference is the type of liqueur used (blackcurrant liqueur in the Kir Royale, and raspberry liqueur in the Kir Imperial). The Kir Royale has a sweeter flavor with a richer mouth feel, while the Kir Imperial has a more tart and refreshing taste.
Crème de Cassis is a sweet liqueur that's flavored with blackcurrants. Although Chambord has blackcurrants in it too, it's primarily a raspberry flavored liqueur, with hints of blackberries and black currants. It has a little more tartness than Creme de Cassis.
This drink is easy to make for a crowd, but you can't really make it ahead of time because the Champagne will lose its carbonation. If do you want to pour these ahead of time, skip the raspberry garnish, because that will make the bubbles come out of the drink faster.
- Bar spoon (optional)
- ¾ ounce Chambord liqueur
- 4 ounces Champagne (or other sparkling wine)
- 1 fresh raspberry (optional garnish)
- Add the Chambord to your serving glass.
- Top with the Champagne.
- Optionally, give the drink a gentle stir to make sure everything is mixed well.
- Add your raspberry garnish, and serve. Cheers!