Quick summary: Chambord, black currant syrup, Kir, and Kirsch will be perfect alternatives for crème de cassis in any cocktail recipe you have.
With such a luxurious-sounding name you’ll be forgiven for mistaking crème de cassis for a rich, cream-based liqueur. Instead, it is a dark red, blackcurrant liqueur, with no cream whatsoever. Also called cassis liqueur, it’s the standout ingredient in the Kir Royale cocktail.
If you’re out of cassis liqueur and need an alternative for cocktails or for the perfect dessert pairing, we’re here to help. Check out our top picks for a creme de cassis substitute below plus some bonus cocktail recipes.
What Is Creme de Cassis Liqueur
This French, dark red liqueur is made from crushed black currants that are soaked in alcohol, with sugar added afterward. The quality of the liqueur will depend on the variety and quantity of berries used as well as the production process.
The specialty liqueur was first produced in 1841 in Dijon, a city in France’s Burgundy region. Although crème de cassis is produced in various locations today, French producers label the bottles according to where the berries are grown.
If a bottle is labeled Crème de Cassis de Dijon, the liqueur was produced from black currants specifically grown in Dijon, France.
Creme de Cassis Taste Profile
The blackcurrant liqueur has a sweet, yet slightly bittersweet, rich, dark berry flavor, with a fruity aroma. It is mixed with white wine or champagne in cocktails or enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif.
It is a low alcohol beverage with an ABV of 15%, which is similar to other sweet liqueurs. It does not contain any dairy and neither does any of this crème family of liqueurs including crème de mure (blackberry), crème de cacao (chocolate), or crème de menthe (mint).
Substitutes for Creme De Cassis
Chambord or Other Raspberry Liqueur
Chambord is a good substitute for crème de cassis since it is easy to find in liquor stores and also of French origin.
This raspberry liqueur has a similar ABV at 16.5%. It is made from black and red raspberries mixed with cognac, honey, Madagascar vanilla, and Moroccan citrus peel. These flavors give it a lovely fruity and sweet flavor which is ideal for cocktails or making desserts.
If your recipe calls for cassis liqueur you can use Chambord or any other raspberry liqueur. Chambord is especially popular in chocolate cake, cheesecakes, pot au de crème, and ice cream, adding a deep fruity richness.
Blackcurrant Syrup (Non-Alcoholic Substitute)
Black currant syrup is the perfect non-alcoholic substitute since it is also made with sugar and blackcurrants (minus the alcohol). It’s ideal for cocktails, mocktails, ice cream, and desserts.
The syrup has a similar flavor with a balance between tangy, sweet, and slight bitterness.
Kir is a popular French aperitif made by combining one part crème de cassis (or blackcurrant liqueur) with one part white wine, usually a dry white. While you can mix your own kir cocktail, you can also purchase a bottle of Kir.
If you can’t find crème de cassis but can find Kir in store, it will make the ideal replacement. Since it already contains blackcurrant liqueur, you’ll have a similar flavor profile.
To enhance the berry notes, add crushed black raspberries to your recipe or drink. Delicious!
Note that Kir Royale is slightly different from classic Kir. Instead of white wine, the ‘royale’ version is a blend of sparkling wine (or champagne) and blackcurrant liqueur. If you go for the bubbly version, make sure to choose a dry champagne to prevent your recipe from being overly sweet.
Kirsch is an unaged brandy, originally named kirschwasser (cherry water) in German. As its name suggests, the original drink was made from double distilled morello cherries. However, kirsch production now also includes other types of sour cherries.
The cherries and their stones are fermented which gives the brandy a slightly bitter taste with subtle cherry notes. It is not to be confused with the sweet and syrupy Crème de Kirsch since the two are entirely different.
When using kirsch as a substitute, keep in mind that it has a much higher alcohol content (around 40% ABV). It also has a clear and colorless appearance which means you won’t get the deep red color. It is not quite as sweet but rather has a slight bitter taste with mild cherry notes.
Kirsch can be served as an aperitif or digestif and will make a great substitute in desserts and cocktails. It is popularly used in cocktails such as the Florida and the Ladyfinger and in desserts including Black Forest cake, chocolate fillings, chocolate cakes, and cherries jubilee. It is also used with Swiss fondues.
Crème de Cassis Cocktails
Other than the classic Kir and Kir Royale, cassis liquor is popular in a variety of fruity and sophisticated cocktails. Try these with your chosen substitute if you don’t have any cassis liqueur on hand.
The French martini is a sophisticated cocktail with a fruity yet balanced profile. It is made with vodka, pineapple juice, and crème de cassis. Feel free to replace the cassis with Chambord or other raspberry liqueurs.
This delicious cocktail is a blend of crème de cassis, tequila, lime, and ginger beer. It has loads of spicy zingy flavor for a great refreshing alcoholic beverage.
This cocktail is a mix of vodka, cassis liqueur, and lemonade. It is well-balanced with a little kick and fruity flavor.
This cocktail really does look like sunrise in a glass with a base of orange juice complimented by crème de cassis and calvados.
Can I substitute berry juice for crème de cassis?
Yes, you can substitute berry juice for crème de cassis, and if you need a non-alcoholic substitute opt for pomegranate juice or cranberry juice. Both these juices have a similar deep red color and sweet-sour berry taste that is perfect for a mocktail.
Is grenadine similar to black currant liqueur?
Yes, grenadine is similar to black currant liqueur. Grenadine or grenadine syrup is a popular fruit syrup made from pomegranates. It is sweet, thick, and has a deep red color which makes it a suitable substitute.
Only add a little grenadine to your cocktail or dessert recipe since it can be overpoweringly sweet. If you added a little too much in your cocktails, simply tone it down with some soda water.
How long does blackcurrant liqueur last?
Blackcurrant liqueur will last indefinitely while unopened. Once opened, it is best to store the berry liqueur in the fridge. It will keep its flavor and color well for around four months. While you could use it after that, the quality will start to decline.
With its unique flavor, this French liqueur is delicious mixed with chilled champagne and naturally pairs well with French cuisine. Its deep purple color makes it a fun addition in a variety of different cocktails.
Since other berry liqueurs, like Chambord, have a relatively low alcohol content and fruit flavor, they can perfectly substitute cassis liqueur in cocktails and desserts. For a more refined flavor and bitter undertones, opt for Kirsch when replacing cassis liqueur as an aperitif, digestif, in cocktails, or desserts.
If a non-alcoholic option is what you’re needing, berry juices or black currant syrup can give you a similar sweet tart flavor. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be in for a fun, fruity liquid treat.
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