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Cassis or Crème de cassis is a liqueur made from an infusion of blackcurrants. The best blackcurrants are considered to come from Dijon in Burgundy France, the original home of Cassis. They are the "Cassis Noir de Bourgogne" and "Cassis Royal de Naples". Crème de Cassis production is attributed to French monks back in the 16th century and it was prescribed it as a remedy for jaundice, snakebites and wretchedness.

The suitability of the chalky soils in Dijon and climate all contribute to the quality and character of Cassis. The ripe blood red fruits are at their sweetest in July when they are picked and sent off to local distilleries. The fruits are pressed and the whole mass is placed in large old oak vats filled with neutral spirits or brandy. A slow infusion or maceration takes place which lasts 2 months. During this time the liqueur acquires its distinctive colour and aroma.

At the end of this process sugar may be added to this infusion, European Union specifications require a minimum 400grams of invert sugar per litre. The end result is a sweet rich fruity flavoured liqueur with an alcoholic volume between 15 to 20%.

Cassis may be served with white wine or champagne. White wine flavoured with cassis is known as Kir or "rince cochon" in Burgundy, literally pig rinse. One part Cassis is poured into a glass and topped up with four parts white wine. Another variation is Kir Royale, the wine is replaced with champagne or sparkling wine. Cassis should be consumed fairly quickly after opening as it does not keep for long due to its low alcoholic content.

This infusion practise lends itself to home distillation with some modifications. You could practically produce a similar liqueur with any berries of your choice. Allow your crushed berries to steep overnight in a neutral spirit and sugar. Using a small distilling unit (Item: 4183 Long Column Alembic) with an internal sieve basket you could steam the solid mass placed in the basket with the remaining liquid and by so doing extract additional flavours from the berries by the rising alcoholic vapours (see Orange liqueur recipe).

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