July 14th (“le quatorze juillet”) is Bastille Day in France, officially called the Fête Nationale (“National Celebration”).

If you missed that lesson in European History class, it commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789. It was a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion in the French Revolution, which toppled the French monarchy (then ruled by Louis XVI, married to Marie Antoinette) and established the French Republic.

The Bastille was a fortress used as a prison for political prisoners who had challenged the King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette over taxation, food shortages, and other socioeconomic issues.

The royals had overtaxed the people to pay for their lavish lifestyles, and turned a deaf ear to their problems. You may recall that in answer to a warning that the starving people had no bread, Marie-Antoinette is alleged to have said, “Then let them eat cake.”

With cries of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the citizens faced down the Gardes Françaises at the prison.

The rebellion resulted in two immediate legislative changes: the medieval system of feudalism was abolished, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was passed.

The festivities are the equivalent of America’s July 4th/Independence Day celebration. Several cities in the U.S. celebrate Bastille Day, too. (Is it the fraternité another reason to party?)

However: Don’t wish any French person “Happy Bastille Day.” That’s an Anglo-American term only used in the U.S. and the U.K., and not universally familiar in France.

Instead, say “Bonne Fête Nationale!” (bun fet nah see oh NALL).

There are many ways to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14th. In our bailiwick, that means foods, wines and cocktails.

In the beverages department, Champagne is the de facto choice*, although many popular cocktails were invented in France, including the French 75, the Kir and the Kir Royale, the Mimosa and the Sidecar.

This year, we’re toasting with three different Chambord cocktails. Chambord is a raspberry liqueur brand, fashioned after a late-17th-century recipe from France’s Loire Valley.

The black raspberry flavor is rich and alluring, with layers of red raspberry fruit and a subtle note of vanilla.

You can:

  • Sip it straight on the rocks.
  • Sprinkle it over sorbet or cheesecake.
  • Use it to flavor shaved/crushed ice.
  • Make cocktails.
  • Add it to chocolate/fudge sauce.
    In the winter, we use it to make a sauce for roast duck.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ¼ ounce Chambord Liqueur
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: fresh raspberry

    Chambord Royale
    [1] Chambord Royale cocktail (photos 1-3 © Brown-Forman Corporation)

    Chambord Spritz
    [2] The Chambord Spritz.

    Chambord Bottle
    [3] Going to a Bastille Day party? Bring Chambord as a gift.

    Champagne Bottle
    [4] Celebratory Champagne can be drunk straight, in a Chambord Royale (recipe below) or a Kir Royale (photo © Zsuzsanna kilian | iStock Photo).


    POUR the Chambord into a flute glass. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a raspberry.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ ounces Chambord Liqueur
  • 4 ounces dry white wine
  • Soda water

    FILL a large wine glass with ice. Add the Chambord, white wine and soda. Stir lightly and serve.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce Chambord Liqueur
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Lemonade
  • Garnish: lime wedge

    FILL a tall glass with ice. Add the Chambord, vodka and lemonade. Garnish with the lime wedge.

    *There are less expensive French sparkling wines called crémant (cray MONT). Ask your salesperson for recommendations.


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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