The French liqueur crème de cassis, the essential component in a Kir cocktail, is made from black currants, a fruit banned in the United States in 1911 because it carried a fungus that infected white pines. (The dried currants you find in the store are not made from black currants but are a type of raisin.) In 1999, Greg Quinn, a Hudson Valley farmer, botanist and lover of the small dark berries, dug in and with others re-examined the ban, taking into account resistant varieties, and persuaded the New York State Legislature to overturn its ban in 2003. There are restrictions on black currants in some other states. He’s cultivating black currants on his Walnut Grove Farm in Staatsburg. Enter Rachael Petach, an artist and event consultant who lives nearby and who wanted to use the New York fruit to make a local version of the cassis liqueur she loved when living in France. Hers is less syrupy than the French version and is sweetened with honey, and infused with cardamom, bay leaf, lemon verbena and citrus rind. It’s wonderful with gin.
Current Cassis, $28 for 375 milliliters, upstreamwine.com, currentcassis.com.
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