Back in the day, I used to order Lillet when “barhopping” with friends. Having just turned twenty-one, I thought the drink sounded exotic. As my friends ordered classic drinks such as screwdrivers, rum & coke, or a glass of house wine, I would be perched on the bar stool feeling “oh so” sophisticated with my “French” aperitif. I first tasted Lillet Blanc at Yellow Fingers in NYC. The bartender, realizing that I had no idea what to order, took it upon himself to pour me a Lillet over ice. I’m not sure whether it was the wink he gave me combined with his good looks or the delicious taste of the Lillet, but it became my “go to” drink for a while.
Lillet is considered an aromatized wine and is produced in Podensac, a small village south of Bordeaux. It is a blend of 85% Bordeaux region wines and 15% macerated citrus liqueurs. It is available in Rouge and Blanc. The company was founded in 1872 by brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet. In 1887, Kina Lillet was created, making it Bordeaux’s first and only aperitif. At the time, all other aperitifs were red. In 1962, Pierre Lillet, grandson of Raymond, created Lillet Rouge, primarily for the American market.
Lillet Blanc has been likened to vermouth, however Lillet has distinct flavors of citrus, honey and spice. The color is golden with aromas of orange blossom and honey with subtle hints of apricot and peach. These aromas segue onto the palate. A creamy mouth-feel gives way to a very crisp and clean finish. It should be served chilled or over ice, perhaps with an orange or lemon slice. As the label states, “it is best presented in a traditional Bordeaux wine glass, to enhance its subtle delicate bouquet”. There are many Lillet cocktails to be found on the Internet. I prefer mine over ice! Alcohol: 17%
As soon as I reacquaint myself with Lillet Rouge, I’ll share my thoughts with you.