Liqueurs and Aperitifs
Canon Félix Kir was a Catholic priest, heroic Resistance fighter and popular and long-serving mayor of Dijon. He championed his favourite sharpener (a judicious mixture of 1 part Crème de Cassis de Dijon to 5 parts of Bourgogne Aligoté) to such an extent that locals started to order 'un Kir', a name which has stuck to this day. The illustrious Maison Gabriel Boudier furnishes the finest Crème de Cassis so if you want a true 'Kir' or even a 'Communard' (Cassis and Bourgogne Rouge), that is the liqueur for you. Not that their other crèmes should be overlooked, their Framboises (raspberry), Fraise des Bois (wild strawberry), Mûres (blackberry) and Pêches (peach) all go down a treat in a glass of sparkling wine or over a sorbet.
Pineau des Charentes is a sweet but refreshing blend of grape juice and Cognac that is traditionally served chilled as a pre-prandial pick-me-up. It also makes an admirable accompaniment to the local Charentais melons. A 'Réserve' version is aged in oak and has a deeper tawny colour, preserved peel scents and a rich fruity palate, so makes a fine digestif.
Floc de Gascogne is broadly similar concept although here Armagnac is deployed rather than Cognac. The Dèche family's version is made with red grape juice so has a lovely garnet robe along with a wealth of red fruit flavours.
Ratafia de Champagne is a blend of grape juice and Champagne brandy that was popularised by seafarers as it remained stable on oceanic voyages. Gilles Dumangin's unimpeachable offering is evocative of toasted nuts, dried figs and candied peel so will appeal to sailors and landlubbers alike.
Julian Temperley's 'Kingston Black' aperitif, from Pass Vale Farm on the Somerset levels, is an uplifting blend of apple juice and Cider Brandy that is redolent of sweet orchard fruit and is best served ice cold or over ice.