Gin may seem like an obvious choice for a summer drink: It’s botanical and refreshing (predominantly juniper). It also pairs well with many fruits – especially currants. And, by the magic of science through fermentation, a delicious black currant liqueur, otherwise known as crème de cassis, was introduced in 1841 to enjoy these delicious berries in all their boozy glory.

When looking to purchase cassis, however, be sure to look for the label “Crème de Cassis de Dijon” to guarantee the highest quality and production from its original home in Dijon. While it would be lovely if someone from the states created a high-quality cassis, I have yet to find one that meets the standards of the French.

If you’ve found a local brand you love, please let me know.

Gin + Cassis (currant) = Parisian Love

The Blackberry Bramble, a well-known classic, is one way to merry these two liquors. This currant hibiscus cocktail (see below for the recipe) is a nice variation made with less sugar (no simple syrup used here) that has a lighter, cooler flavor perfect for hot days on beach fronts and patios: The blend of gin and cassis in a hibiscus tea will leave you feeling refreshed without the sugar-coated-teeth feeling that often accompanies over-sugared cocktails still far-too-common in bars across the state.

The Ultimate Cassis & Hibiscus Cocktail | Twin Cities Agenda
French Cassis and gin, photo by Ranelle Kirchner

Currant Hibiscus Cooler

Serves 1

1 ounce fresh lemon juice
8-10 currants, fresh or frozen*
5 oz brewed hibiscus tea, cooled
1/2 ounce cassis
1 1/2 ounce gin
fresh mint, optional garnish

*substitute blackberry, blueberry, or raspberry if currants are unavailable

In a glass combine the lemon juice and currants in a rocks glass, then add ice. Top with measured hibiscus tea, cassis, and gin. Stir well and add optional garnish.

**If you have a soda stream or other method of carbonating at home, try buzzing the hibiscus tea (but only if it’s sugarless) before making the cocktail to add an addictive fizz.

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