When I was a young lass, fresh-faced from four fun-filled, mind-expanding years as an undergrad I landed a pretty crazy gig. Just a month after finishing college, I packed up my meager belongings and flew off to the Alps, just a sosche past my beloved France, to start a gig as a “Seed” in a Swiss company. That’s the literal translation of my job title, “Pépin,” which was more accurately translated as “Management Trainee” on the English version of my business card.
One of my favorite things about office life in Switzerland was a longstanding tradition of the celebratory, at-work apéritif to fête just about anything. Someone got a promotion? Apéro for all! It’s your birthday? Departmental apéro! Anniversary of the day you started working here? Time for some drinks! These took place in the office and although an aperitif is just supposed to be a pre-dinner drink, these affairs often became little, low-key cocktail parties. Each office had its own traditions. In one office, you knew it was a really special apero when Elizabeth made her famous cake (la tarte au vin cuit) that took hours and hours because its primary ingredient was a syrupy, slow reduction of many bottles of wine.
So where does this stroll down memory lane lead? To a happy and fermented place, of course! One of the best parts about these gatherings was that they introduced me to kir, kir royale and the flavors of blackcurrant. I’ve loved kir ever since , and when currants of all shades started popping up at the farmers markets, I knew I had to ferment them. Creme de cassis is a liqueur made from infusing blackcurrants in alcohol and adding sugar. To make kir, you mix that into white wine. Kir royale, a huge improvement, is the same blackcurrant liqueur mixed into champagne or sparkling white. Our version will be a bit less sweet, a lot less syrupy and a ton more fermenty!