A cocktail that’s licensed to thrill
With its pedigree as one of the spirits that made the Roaring 20s roar, there’s something effortlessly chic about Lillet Blanc ($15.95, 322297). The brand of French aperitif wine is a blend of 85 percent Bordeaux grapes, including Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle for the Blanc version (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for the Rouge version) and 15 percent macerated liqueurs, aged in oak casks. It’s considered an aperitif because it uses the liqueur of Chinchona bark from Peru that contains quinine, the substance that gives tonic water its distinctive taste.
It’s perhaps this association with everything lavish and ritzy that adds to its overwhelming sophistication. Which explains why, in the hit novel and film Casino Royale, secret agent James Bond uses Lillet in a cocktail he names after his romantic target, Vesper Lynd. The Vesper is a simple, elegant drink that’s a different choice for Bond, but equally delicious as his classic vodka martini — shaken, not stirred. Perfect for swanky dinner parties or for sipping during a night out on the town, you can enjoy this cocktail too. Simply find a top quality vodka (from grain instead of potatoes, if you want to split hairs like Bond’s creator Ian Fleming) and remember to serve the finished martini well chilled, ideally between 6 - 8°C.
1.5 oz Gordon’s Dry Gin
.5 oz Vodka
.25 oz Lillet
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix the gin, vodka and Lillet. Shake until ice-cold. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of lemon peel.
Two other stylish cocktails inspired by Lillet
Lillet Rouge Cup
5 oz Lillet Rouge
Red and black fruit
Lime, orange, pink grapefruit, lemon
Cubed or crushed ice
In a pitcher, place sliced fruit and citrus and ice. Add Lillet Rouge and top with lemonade. Serve in wine goblets.
2 oz Lillet Blanc
4 oz. Tonic Water
Pour chilled Lillet Blanc and tonic water into a glass. Garnish with the slice of cucumber, a spring of mint and a strawberry.