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Claire Briottet, the French Queen of Cassis

In Dijon, the Briottets are considered blackcurrant royalty. They have been transforming the small, glossy, black berries into top-shelf liqueur since 1836. We recently sat down for an interview with Claire Briottet, 38, who now helms the family business – as the first female director in the company’s history – with her brother.
© Antoine Martel

France-Amérique: Can you tell us about your products?

Claire Briottet: We have been liquoristes for six generations, and each one has created new recipes and developed the family range. As a result, we now offer 65 different types of liqueurs, including apricot, banana, pineapple, melon, cherry, cranberry, hazelnut, and coffee. We are well-known for our crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), which is our most popular flavor in France, followed by blackberry and peach. The French tend to have more classic tastes, and usually combine fruit liqueur with white wine – the traditional kir. Abroad, and especially in the United States, our liqueurs are used in a wider range of cocktails, and triple sec, blue curaçao, and violet liqueur are very popular among mixologists.

Do certain flavors suddenly trend and if so, which one is trending the most at the moment?

Yes, we do see trends from time to time. For example, we never expected any high-volume demand for passion fruit liqueur. But all of a sudden in 2017, volumes doubled, and then tripled, thanks to a single cocktail: the Porn Star Martini, also called the Passion Star Martini! (Combine 1 ½ oz. vanilla flavored vodka, ½ oz. passion fruit liqueur, 1 oz. passion fruit puree, ½ oz. lime juice, and ½ oz. Artez Arvani Vanilla Armagnac in a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of passion fruit, and serve with a 2 oz. shot glass of chilled sparkling wine or Champagne on the side.) It is now considered a classic and sales of passion fruit liqueur remain high.

From left: raspberry liqueur (750 mL), raspberry liqueur (375 mL), peach liqueur (750 mL), peach liqueur (375 mL), grapefruit liqueur (750 mL), and blackcurrant liqueur (375 mL). © Heavenly Spirits

A limited edition of your signature blackcurrant liqueur is named after one of your ancestors, Jules Theuriet. What can you tell us about him?

He is my great, great, great grandfather. He was a wine merchant in Dijon in the mid-19th century. His daughter Juliette – my great, great grandmother – married Edmond Briottet, who became director of the company in 1912. The family business took the name “Theuriet-Briottet” for a few years, but “Theuriet” was eventually dropped. Today, the Jules Theuriet brand of crème de cassis is sold exclusively in the United States, through Heavenly Spirits.

Do you have any personal favorite cocktails you would like to share?

Our crème de cassis is my favorite liqueur – probably because I was allowed sips of it when I was a child! My husband and I used it to create a cocktail during the pandemic. Because of the lockdown, bars were closed and we couldn’t see our friends, so we started to tinker and invent cocktails on Saturday evenings. We called this one “Black Pamp,” and it is very easy to make: Combine 2 parts crème de cassis, 1 part gin, 1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and 3 parts grapefruit juice. Shake with crushed ice and strain into a coupe glass. Santé!