Citrusy and spicy, with a honeyed texture and the golden color of a summer sunset, Lillet Blanc is the perfect pre-dinner patio drink for a lazy June day.
Produced in Bordeaux since 1872, this classic French wine-based aperitif is deliciously refreshing all on its own – either served chilled with a twist of orange, or poured over ice with a splash of club soda. It also pairs nicely with vodka and gin, giving a dash of zesty, bittersweet citrus flavor to summer cocktails.
Available in red as well as white formulations ("rouge" and "blanc"), and weighing in at 17% alcohol, Lillet is in many ways comparable to vermouth. So it will come as no surprise that one of the white version's most famous cocktailian uses is in a Martini. A James Bond Martini, no less.
A Bit-Part in Casino Royale
In Ian Fleming's 1953 novel, Casino Royale (and the 2006 film of the same name), Bond instructs the bartender to make a drink of the secret agent's own invention, consisting of "three measures of Gordon's [gin], one of vodka, [and] half a measure of Kina Lillet." He names it the "Vesper" after his love interest at the time.
We shook up a batch and found the resulting cocktail to be a smooth spin on the classic vermouth-and-gin (or vodka) Martini, brightened by subtle citrus notes:
James Bond Casino Royale (a.k.a. "Vesper") Martini (adapted from the Lillet website)
makes 2 drinks
1/2 ounce Lillet blanc (white Lillet)
3 ounces gin
1 ounce vodka
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
Have you tried Lillet?
(Images: Nora Maynard)