|Some Hudson Valley currant products.|
The New York pioneer in turning currants into crème de cassis, or cassis (kah seese) for short, was Clinton Vineyards. There, Phyllis and the late Ben Feder, known for their excellent seyval wines, branched out with the winter hardy, disease-resistant fruit that has been a French favorite since the 1840s when it as developed in the Burgundy region.
Several other wineries in the Hudson Valley now have followed their example. In addition to Clinton Vineyards, Adair Vineyards, Hudson-Chatham Winery, Tousey Winery, Brookview Station Winery, Glorie Farm Winery, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery and Tuthilltown Spirits all make cassis, in total producing about 20,000 bottles a year.
"The Hudson Valley has a more diverse portfolio of adult beverages than any other region, including wines, handcrafted spirits and ciders, and now cassis. America's oldest wine region is now enjoying a renaissance," said Jim Trezise, president of the New Yor State Wine & Grape Foundation.
Black or red currants are small berries that when dried, have the appearance of raisins. They are crushed and made into a refined alcohol, with sugar added later, to create cassis. The liqueur is consumed straight, as part of various drinks such as the iconic kir royale -- chilled Champagne with a splash of cassis -- or as a dessert liqueur.
A new website has been created to tell the cassis tale and provide recipes, news and images about the craft. It's called "Hudson Valley Cassis: North America's Premiere Producer of Artisanal Cassis and Black Currant Wines."
Here are several recipes taken from that site:
3 ounces bourbonShake with ice and strain over ice into an old fashioned glass.
1 ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce crème de cassis
2 ounces Bacardi Gold ReserveBuild over ice and stir in a Collins glass.
1 ounce Triple Sec Curacao
1 ounce crème de cassis
1 part dry vermouthShake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
1 part amaretto
1 part whiskey
1 part crème de cassis