The half-dozen snowballs in a Ziplock bag in my freezer have Current Cassis to thank. “We didn’t anticipate how much it would be embraced in winter,” said Rachael Petach, the artist and events consultant who launched her blackcurrant liqueur late last year. A Hudson Valley reinterpretation of classic crème de cassis (this one gently herbaceous and not too sweet), Current made the rounds over the holidays in fizzy kir royales. But it was the snow cones stained a bruised purple that lit up Instagram: childlike fun with adult-level potency. Petach’s love of cassis has a coming-of-age beginning. On a solo trip to Europe at 18, she plunked down four euros at a “probably hokey” Left Bank bistro for her first kir royale. Years later, “when I was pregnant and messing around with cordials, I sort of fell down this blackcurrant rabbit hole and started digging into where there wasn’t any blackcurrant in the States,” she said. (In fact, the crop was banned in 1911 for carrying a fungus detrimental to the white pine. Greg Quinn, a farmer-botanist who took the issue to the New York State Legislature, helped overturn the ban in 2003 and now supplies Petach with the fruit.) What started as a kitchen experiment for enthusiastic friends soon coalesced into a business idea; she secured a bit of funding last February, just ahead of the pandemic. “All things feel like a gamble at the beginning,” said Petach—much like motherhood (her son is now 2) or home ownership (she and her husband recently left Brooklyn for Germantown, New York). But Current, out in the world, has managed to retain that feeling of a shared treasure—as seen at Grapefruit, a new natural-wine shop in Hudson, from the people behind Kitty’s. This cocktail recipe, by the Grapefruit team, makes good use of winter citrus—and will shine long after the snowballs run out.
Citrus season is the glorious bright spot in the dark days of winter. This hot pink, tart drink is a little escapism in a glass. Current Cassis shines with a splash of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and a salty, dry sherry—look for Fino or Manzanilla style. Top your cocktail with a splash of bubbly wine like Spanish Cava. Enjoy as an aperitif with your favorite salty snack and daydream of the coming sunshine. –Anna Morris
- 2 oz. Current Cassis
- 2 oz. Fino sherry
- 1 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1 oz. Cava, or other dry sparkling wine
- Long zest of a grapefruit, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine Current Cassis, sherry and grapefruit juice.
Fill shaker with ice, cover & shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
Strain into a collins glass (or wine glass, if you want to feel extra fancy) filled with ice. Top with a splash of sparkling wine, about 1 oz. Garnish with the peel of a grapefruit.