Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hercule Poirot with Cassis

I've been thinking about cassis all day and wondering quite what to match it with until I was reminded that Hercule Poirot was fond of it - which makes perfect sense for the character - I can see him now liqueur glass in hand, appreciating the finer points of a good cassis.

It does need to be a good cassis though, my current preference is for White Heron British Cassis, which is twice the price of the French one we sell, but much better. The reason it needs to be good, and that it's worth spending more on, is that as it's bottled at only 15% it won't keep its freshness especially long once it's open*. You need a bottle you want to drink.

Once you've found a brand you like though, it's a useful thing to have around. There is the ubiquitous Kir royale (a drink I particularly dislike, if your champagne needs Cassis you shouldn't have bought it, if it doesn't, why add it... but that's a personal prejudice) and the now over looked Kir which I far prefer. Traditionally it was made with Bourgogne Aligote, but it's become much harder to find in the U.K. Much bette to use any good ordinary French white (house wine kind of standard, so perfectly drinkable without being terribly exciting, because the Cassis is going to provide the excitement here). There is also the Cardinal, where Cassis is used to pep up a red wine in a twist in the Kir formula. It's certainly not the worst way to rescue a slightly disappointing bottle (by which I mean thin, or maybe
just going over the hill, if it's got a definite fault get rid of it).

There are plenty of other Cocktails that call for Cassis, and it's a handy kitchen ingredient too, adding a bit of booze blackcurrenty glamour to all sorts of things, and a great potential match with something like a chocolate tart, or very dark and rich chocolate cake or torte (beware to many other flavours though). It can be a port alternative with the cheeseboard as well, or just good on its own at the end of a meal, or the end of the evening - it's versatile stuff.

I think Poirot might have looked askance at an English version, but he would be far to particular to accept a lesser quality Cassis, and once he tried White Heron I know he'd approve. What Agatha Christie's personal opinion of Cassis was is a mystery I haven't yet looked into.

* It's the case with a lot of liqueurs, vermouths, and other fortified wines that they really don't keep as well as people think. Contact with oxygen destroys the freshness of the flavours, which is really noticeable with something fruity where you definitely want that freshness and vibrancy. To get the best out of them refrigerate after opening and aim to use within a month. Unless it smells really bad, or has developed mould, it won't do you any harm to drink it after this point (cream based liqueurs are another matter) but it won't taste as good.


  1. I was a bit worried that your thoughts were turning to murder, given the season. ;-) There's surely an audience out there for a 'food/drink in Agatha Christie' book - maybe someone has already thought of this.

  2. It would be a fun project to do. I haven't properlybread Christie for years, just watched film versions. They used to be such a feature of Christmas.