meet Lejay, the original cassis, created in 1841. oh, what’s cassis, you ask? cassis is french for black currant. great, now that we’ve got that established, what is a black currant? oh, you don’t know what a black currant is? you’ve never tasted a black currant? well, you’re not alone. here’s why: the united states made the cultivation of black currants a federal crime. as in illegal. yup. hard to believe, isn’t it? the lumber industry proclaimed this berry was responsible for blighting the white pine. which was never actually proven by the way. unbelievably, this ban is still upheld in certain states like MA. here in NY though, we are once again free to grow black currants after a long 60 years, the way they were formally grown here. you see, the northeast part of the US is the perfect climate for growing black currants. it’s just mind-boggling that a country would ban a berry, isn’t it though? that’s the reason most americans have no idea what a black currant is. and no idea of how amazing cassis is. because my family hails from europe, i know well the merits of this forbidden fruit. talk to anyone whose mum grew up in europe, and you will be talking to someone who has savored the striking and memorable flavor of black currant. the real crime is that they were banned for so long. but let’s not cry over spilled cassis. let’s get out there and enjoy this awesome berry. enter Lejay, since 1841.
so back to cassis. the black currant, and by extension all things made with it, completely fell out of favor for generations due to this crazy ban. your grandmother knows what cassis is and she most likely drank it in a Kir Royale©. now cassis is making its way back into american life. on elevated culinary menus, you’ll find black currant proudly listed. on trendy cocktail menus you will see cassis prominently noted. and there is no cassis like Lejay. why have just any cassis when you can have the original, and best, cassis?
i have taste-tested almost every cassis in the New York market, and while most are pretty good… Lejay is hands down spectacular. i wish i could pass you a sip through this post… i will do my best to paint a picture… when you first set your eyes upon Lejay, the color will strike you most. it is not maroon, it is ruby. it is more vibrant than any other cassis i’ve found, and if for no other reason than to color your drinks, Lejay should be your top choice. but let’s move on… as you touch it to your lips, your nose will detect a faint floral smell. and that would be the same flower essence Chanel No. 5 uses in its perfume: the highly sought after black currant flower bud. Lejay is not just fruity, but subtly floral as well. additionally, two different varieties of black currants give Lejay its diversity and depth. in 173 years nothing has changed in the manner in which Lejay makes their cassis. the same gravity fed, two month, slow pressing of the berries is still employed. the process is wholly artisanal and the result is so pure that it’s hard to believe there is actually alcohol in Lejay. but there is: 18% or 36 proof, to be exact. lastly, very little sugar is used and what is used comes from sugar beet (GMO-free). this is not your typical sugary, fruity, cloying liqueur. this is heaven in a bottle.
so i invite your taste buds to the garden of eden… once you go black currant, you don’t go back, lol…all though Lejay can be mixed many ways, the Lejay Spritz is the simplest and perhaps most delicious way to enjoy the most outstanding cassis in the world. for entertaining, convert the ounce to cups and whip up a pitcher. cheers!
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