There are dozens of famous and not-so-famous apéritifs that taste great, have a vibrant history, and are great additions or ingredients in delicious cocktails. But for some reason, many at-home bartenders and professional mixologists alike forget these awesome apéritifs when crafting delicious cocktails.
One apéritif that has remained somewhat obscure despite being delicious and versatile is Lillet. There are several kinds of Lillet (and maybe you have even heard of a few!), but most people couldn’t even tell you what it tastes like.
Lillet is one of our absolute favorite flavors, and we want to share our love with you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Lillet cocktails we hope you’ll love making.
What Is Lillet?
Before we dive into these Lillet cocktails, we thought you might like to know a little bit about this specialty drink. Lillet is actually an aromatized apéritif, which means that it is steeped with herbs, spices, and natural flavorings to produce a unique taste.
There are three varieties of Lillet, each made with distinct blends of grapes for specific coloring and flavor: the Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rose, and Lillet Rouge, These wine blends are fortified with citrus-based spirits to strengthen the drink.
Lillet is 17% ABV — a little bit higher than a typical wine but much less than a hard liquor — making it an easy-to-drink sipper.
What Does Lillet Taste Like?
The three varieties of Lillet each have their own unique flavor, and they’re not interchangeable. Each of them brings a memorable and distinct combination of tastes to the table.
Lillet Blanc is the most popular of the three, tasting like sweet vermouth with a citrus and herbal punch. Think of it as a sweeter and more flavorful crisp white wine. That makes it a perfect replacement for light white grape-based liqueurs, spirits, and apéritifs.
Lillet Rose is similar to Lillet Blanc, but it includes additional red fruit liqueurs for color and flavoring. This gives Lillet Rose a gently bright and crisp white wine flavor with a delightful red fruit twist and herbal finish great for a summer afternoon.
Lillet Rouge is made with more red grapes and red liqueurs giving it a much deeper, more tart feel. A taste of raspberry and cherry combine with ginger spice and cardamom for a delicious combination.
These three distinct apéritifs bring an intense and unique flavor to cocktails in place of wines, vermouths, and some liqueurs.
What Are the Top Lillet Cocktails?
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite Lillet cocktails that you should learn how to make!
1. The Creole Resolution
The Creole Resolution is a simple Lillet Blanc cocktail that provides a twist on the classic spritz cocktail build. Featuring just a couple of key ingredients, this drink lets the Lillet Blanc shine through.
We recommend you go with prosecco or champagne, as these bright bubbles have crisp notes that complement the Lillet.
- 1 ½ ounces of Lillet Blanc
- 3 to 5 ounces of prosecco or champagne
- ½ ounce of grenadine
- 1 sugar cube
- An orange twist
Place your sugar cube at the bottom of a wine or champagne glass and pour the grenadine over the sugar cube. Then pour in the Lillet Blanc, followed by the prosecco or champagne. If necessary, crush the sugar cube to dissolve it. Garnish with an orange twist and serve.
The Creole Resolution is a bit more complex than a simple spritz, but the drop of grenadine adds an amazing fruit punch flavor that makes this drink even more delicious.
2. The Vesper Martini
The Vesper Martini is the first drink that international super-spy James Bond orders in the book Casino Royale. This drink is incredibly boozy, so be prepared if you decide to whip up one of these bad boys.
While most regular martinis are made with either gin or vodka, Vesper Martinis are made with both, giving us the best of both worlds.
- 3 Ounces of gin
- 1 Ounce of vodka
- ½ Ounce of Lillet Blanc
- Lemon peel
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine your gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc. You’ll want this drink shaken, not stirred (IYKYK) until chilled for at least 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist if you want to feel a little fancy.
3. Sweet Charity
The Sweet Charity cocktail is a Lillet-forward drink. In fact, it’s made almost entirely of Lillet — meaning it’s a great drink if you really love Lillet! Sweet Charity is a great showcase for Lillet Rose, which often gets the short end of the stick compared to Lillet Blanc and Rouge.
Sweet Charity is also a great cocktail with strong floral and herbal flavors coming from the St. Germain elderflower liqueur in the drink. Together with the light and fruity crispness of the Lillet rose, we’ve got an incredibly refreshing and simple drink.
- 2 ounces of Lillet Rose
- ¾ Ounce of St. Germain
- 2 ounces of soda water or tonic water
- 4 to 6 raspberries
In a wine glass with ice, combine your Lillet Rose and St. Germain. Top it off with soda water or tonic water. Add your raspberries and stir.
It really is just that simple to make this beloved cocktail. If you want to mix and match, explore other flavors as well. Feel free to swap out St. Germain and replace it with any one of our Haus apéritifs for a unique flavor experience.
5. The Bootsy Collins
Our final Lillet cocktail is a Lillet Rouge option that is as funky and fresh as its namesake. The Bootsy Collins is a Lillet Rouge and vodka bomb that starts out strong before becoming pleasantly balanced.
If you want a drink like the Bootsy Collins with a little less alcohol, consider swapping out the vodka in this cocktail for a Haus apéritif. This will bring a funkier, herbal note to the cocktail that tastes wonderful and can decrease the drink’s ABV for pleasant sipping with no next-morning hangover.
- 2 Ounces of Lillet Rouge
- 2 Ounces of vodka or Haus apéritif
- 1 Ounce of lemon juice
- 1 ounce of simple syrup
Combine your Lillet rouge, vodka (or Haus apéritif), lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled for at least thirty seconds. Strain into a glass with ice, and enjoy!
The drink is easy, unfussy, and out-of-this-world delicious.
Fall in Love With Lillet Cocktails
Lillet is a French aromatized wine that can be used in many different cocktails. Despite its fabulous flavors, it is often a forgotten mixer. Lillet comes in Blanc, Rose, and Rouge varieties, giving you options regardless of what mood you’re in.
Whether you want something simple like a Vesper Martini or a cocktail with lots of fun ingredients, Lillet can make it all.
Lillet is similar to our Haus apéritifs — so if you like Lillet, you’re going to love Haus. All our apéritifs are wine-based spirits jam-packed with refreshing, light, and delicious flavors.
Now that you’re excited about Lillet, mix up some of these cocktails and share them with your friends! That bottle of Lillet isn’t going to drink itself!