A visit to Mount Vernon in Virginia, one-time home to George Washington, brings you into the dining rooms where he entertained and the fields and gardens where he grew his food. The only foreign country he ever visited in his lifetime was Barbados, but he frequently dined with sophisticated, well-traveled guests. Only once in the last 20 years of his life did he and his wife, Martha, dine alone.
The Mount Vernon Cookbook, compiled by the Founders, Washington Committee for Historic Mount Vernon (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 1984), doesn’t transcribe original recipes, but it does rely on ingredients available to 18th century cooks. This Kir cocktail is a traditional French recipe that may have been served in Washington’s time. It would have been offered at what the book describes as a “genteel, well-appointed table” at which Martha Washington served “platters garnished with vegetables or flowers…offering a variety of foods from which the guests chose according to preference.” For modern diners, the burgundy-hued, slightly sweet cocktail refreshes on a warm summer night.
Mount Vernon’s Kir (1700s)
Makes 1 drink
Generous twist of lemon
Splash Crème de Cassis liqueur [I used 1 ounce]
3-4 ounces white Bordeaux wine
3 ice cubes
In a large wine glass, place the lemon, Crème de Cassis, white wine, and ice cubes. Stir well and serve.