As I pointed out in my white whales section on Kina Lillet, Lillet Blanc is the rebranded and possibly reformulated quinquina aperitif wine made famous by James Bond in the books and movies Casino Royale.
It could easily be mistaken for a sweet vermouth. They both have a very crisp flavor but the Lillet is a much more complex product. A lot of white wines that I’ve tried don’t do a lot for me. They’re frequently too dry, and the alcohol taste runs roughshod over any other flavor components. Lillet takes those flavor notes and brings them front and center by adding fruit, herbs and spices to the mixture of white wine.
I tried it straight, on the rocks, well chilled and with various citrus twists and they all perform very well. It’s a sweet taste, very much in the fruit category without any syrupy or cloying components. It’s harder to find that a lot of other things but you’ll see it in the most unusual places just sitting there alongside the Rouge and the Rose. I picked my bottle up on special for about $20.
The one downside that I find to this is that it’s going to go bad. Like a bottle of wine or vermouth, once open it will age rather quickly and the tannins in the wine will render it undrinkable after a couple of weeks. So it’s vesper cocktails around here for a couple of days until this one is gone.
The difficulty in locating a bottle means I probably won’t keep this in stock at the house, but it is unusual enough that it makes for something unique to take to a party where people will be drinking wine rather than slugging aftershock.
I find that it mixes well with both Dry Gin and the Aviation that I already had on hand. It goes passably with vodka but I’m expecting more notes there and I expect something citrus like limoncello, cointreau, curacao, or campari would work equally well in the mix there to create something more verbose.
I think tomorrow I’ll try it with some of the Clear Creek fruit liqueurs and see how it runs on cherry or cranberry. I’m doubting that rum will go far in something like this but I would put money on a lillet sidecar having some legs.