Lillet Blanc, one of my favorite aperitifs in the world, has recently arrived in the Alberta market. I first tried this wine based aperitif in Seattle 5 years ago. We were in a crazy little cocktail bar just outside of Pikes Market called “The Zig Zag Café“. One of the owners, a human “wiki” on spirits by the name of Ben Dougherty, was waxing philosophic on spirits and cocktails and eventually the topic of Lillet came up. Ben specializes in “old school” cocktails. Do not expect to find a strawberry daiquiri on this mans cocktail list, it’s just not there. I got the feeling as Ben continued to talk that he is of the ilk that believe the “Trader Vic” years in the eighties were the beginning of the end of the “true” cocktail. My kind of guy.
He spoke of Lillet Blanc with great enthusiasm as he pulled it from behind the bar. Ben spoke of Lillet’s uniqueness as an aperitif but also it’s versatility as a component of a cocktail. He poured a small taster and I was instantly hooked. A ripe fruit and floral nose, sweet with hints of orange peel and a refreshing citrus finish, this stuff was great. I left the Zig Zag that day with the hope of finding the refreshing aperitif from Bordeaux in Calgary when I returned home. Upon my return I was devastated to learn that Lillet Blanc was not available in the Alberta market… sigh.
Flash forward to 5 years later and my cross border cocktail mistress has arrived! I am really pumped about this killer product being here and I wanted to share that excitement, so here is a classic coctail that contains Lillet. The James Bond Martini known as a “Vesper” created by Ian Fleming in his 1953 classic “Casino Royal”.
3 Measures Gordon’s Gin
1 Measure grain Vodka (grain is better as Bond himself points out in the book)
½ Measure if Lillet Blanc (Bond actually orders Kina Lillet, long story, same stuff)
Shake vigorously until ice cold and serve with a large, thin slice of lemon.
Mix one up for yourself or just drink Lillet strait, either way, you will be pleased!