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Lillet

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Anyone else tried the new Lillet Rose yet? It's quite lovely. Haven't had as much time to experiment with it yet, but am looking forward to doing so when I have less events on my schedule.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Anyone else tried the new Lillet Rose yet? It's quite lovely. Haven't had as much time to experiment with it yet, but am looking forward to doing so when I have less events on my schedule.

Yes...I'm trying to remember where I first had it in a cocktail, after which I picked up a bottle for home use. Went through it fairly quickly, mostly as an apertif, with a squeeze of lime or lemon and topped with club soda. It's fairly sweet.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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See, that's interesting. I find it quite a bit more acidic than either the Lillet Blonde or the Lillet Rouge. Kind of like rose wine. Definitely has a backbone of acidity like a good Provencal pink. But perhaps that's just my hypersensitive palate. I don't know. :unsure:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Odd McIntyre from the Savoy cocktail book (aka Frank Sullivan, Hoop La!): equal parts cognac, Cointreau, Lillet and lemon juice.

8098653192_0166cd4794_z.jpg

I was preparing myself for something on the sweet side like a sidecar (especially with the addition of Lillet), but it was crisp and light. A good warm weather drink!

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To further confuse matters, David Embury describes a Lillet vermouth which he claims was a distinct product from Kina Lillet, and apparently, the word "kina" was dropped long ago, not in 1980.

My own favorite French vermouth today is Lillet (pronounced lee'lay) made by Lillet Freres of Podensac, France. Do not confuse it with the Lillet aperitif made by the same company and originally sold under the name of Kina Lillet.

That was from the introductory section on aperitif wines. Later in the book, under Short Drinks, he has an entry for Kina Lillet drinks:

In commenting on Lillet vermouth, I warned not to confuse this brand of vermouth with the aperitif wine, originally known as Kina Lillet but now called simply Lillet. If, by accident, you get a bottle of the wine instead of the vermouth, what do you do with it? Well, here are a few of the old-time recipes using Kina Lillet. I definitely do not recommend any of them.

So what does everyone make of this? Was there yet another Lillet product--a vermouth no less--that may have been called for in certain drinks? If we are to believe that Kina Lillet never really changed, is what we are looking for to faithfully re-created old drinks something else entirely? I can't imagine Embury was completely mistaken about this, especially since he cites it as his favorite French vermouth. Surely he knew what he was drinking. Gotta love that he feels that the only way anyone would possess a bottle of Kina Lillet is "by accident."

The book on Lillet finally sheds some light on this question. Page 207 it explains that, at some point after 1945, there was indeed another type of Lillet, "Lillet dry type canadien" at 18°. The bottle had a green label similar to Martini extra dry. It was an aperitif based on French vermouths such as Noilly Prat. So clearly David Embury was referring to this French vermouth-style Lillet in the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948).

So, when making Embury's drinks calling for "Lillet vermouth", French/dry vermouth should be used.

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Very nice frogprincesse, thank you for reporting!

How do you think the "lillet dry type canadien" relates to the previous quote about availability of these varieties of Lillet: "Kina-Lillet Apéritif", "Français", "Dry Export" or "English-style Lillet"?

My question remains: What version of Lillet would have been available in America before prohibition and in England during prohibition?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Very nice frogprincesse, thank you for reporting!

How do you think the "lillet dry type canadien" relates to the previous quote about availability of these varieties of Lillet: "Kina-Lillet Apéritif", "Français", "Dry Export" or "English-style Lillet"?

My question remains: What version of Lillet would have been available in America before prohibition and in England during prohibition?

Erik,

I haven't forgotten about this... To answer the first part of your question, the only Lillet that existed in America (or elsewhere) before prohibition was Kina-Lillet (where it was called "Lillet" - see below). The other versions of Lillet were not created until the 1920s or so.

But that does not mean that this was what Harry Craddock was using. I haven't finished studying the book yet, but what I have read so far leads me to believe that only limited quantities of Lillet were available in the US before prohibition. The first shipment of Lillet to the US happened in 1910, but it was only about 100 cases. So there is the possibility that Harry Craddock could have created his Lillet-based cocktails in London where Lillet would have been more easily available. I wonder, are there any records of Harry Craddock serving Lillet-based cocktails at the Knickerbocker, Hoffman House or Holland House?

Lillet started being exported on a regular basis to London in the early 1920s, but they could not use the word "Kina" on the label because of customs regulations (the same thing happened in the US). To make things more confusing, the English Lillet ("dry export") was created during the same timeframe with a more assertive flavor profile deemed more appropriate for mixing (could they have been receiving input from Craddock himself? - that would be pretty cool!).

Kina-Lillet (later just called Lillet, also referred to as "goût français" in the book) was the original formula.

Lillet "goût anglais" (also called "dry export") was created for the English market sometime before the second world war (I haven't been able to find a more precise date so far - I am still looking). It can be differentiated from the French Lillet by its alcohol content (18 degrees for the English version versus 17 for the original).

The third type is the Canadian version ("Lillet dry type canadien") which is really a dry vermouth and became available in the late 40s.

Then there is the aged Lillet (Jean de Lillet) which became available in the 60s.

Also keep in mind that the quality of the Lillet was still somewhat variable at the beginning of the century based on the wines that were used to produce it and its evolving fabrication process. They were striving for a better quality and also adapting to the taste of the public.

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Yeah, I wish I knew where and when the Corpse Reviver No. 2 was created.

I'm pretty sure it is a Craddock original, but I don't know if anyone knows if it was something he made in the US or if he invented it after moving to England.

As far as a survey of pre-prohibition cocktail books in the US, looking for Lillet, that's an interesting idea.

Perhaps one that Greg Boehm or Cocktail Kingdom might have the resources to undertake!

In general, I always think of one of the things that happened during prohibition was that American bartenders in exile started mixing drinks with a wider palate of European liqueurs.

Lillet started being exported on a regular basis to London in the early 1920s, but they could not use the word "Kina" on the label because of customs regulations (the same thing happened in the US). To make things more confusing, the English Lillet ("dry export") was created during the same timeframe with a more assertive flavor profile deemed more appropriate for mixing (could they have been receiving input from Craddock himself? - that would be pretty cool!).

For me, the quote about English Lillet suggested the opposite. That the version in France was sweeter and more bitter than that sold in England.

"In France we need the kina to have a little more substance and to be a little sweeter in order to withstand the mixtures that consumers unfortunately require to consume our product, because it is quite obvious that a gourmet would never blend our Kina with anything; in England we are told that our Kina is drunk with gin as a cocktail."


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Out of curiousity, this morning I took a look through Hugo Ensslin's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks", one of the last influential cocktail books published before prohibition in the US.

No mention of Kina Lillet/Lillet at all.

Plenty of Dubonnet and even some obscure bitters like Calisaya, but not a peep about Lillet.

On the other hand, then, as now, brand name ingredients in a cocktail book were generally more of an indication of an advertising or sponsorship deal with the author or publisher, than anything else.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Also, interestingly, though I have identified sources for many of the recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Book, (Ensslin, Thomas, McElhone, Judge Jr, etc.) up to now, none of the Kina Lillet/Lillet recipes have yet been identified as coming from any other source.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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This morning, I sent a query to Jared Brown (of Mixellany fame) regarding Lillet, Craddock, and the US.

In the message, I made the quip, "I guess Craddock was not just the world's largest Hercules and Caperitif fan at the time, but maybe the world's first Lillet Brand Ambassador."

He replied, "Truer than you realize. Craddock appeared in 1930s ads for Lillet in a UK trade magazine."


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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For reference, below is a list of the cocktails calling for Kina-Lillet in the Savoy Cocktail Book. I've tried to find documentation related to their creation or mention of these cocktails in other books but have been unsuccessful so far.

The only thing I could find was related to the Charlie Lindbergh cocktail. According to this website, there is a 1927 reference in the Washington Post to the Charlie Lindbergh cocktail, three years before the Savoy Cocktail Book was published.

Although Col. [sic] Lindbergh is not a drinking man, he found on his arrival in London that Englishmen were drinking a cocktail created in honor of his great transatlantic flight.

An American cocktail mixer, employed in one of London’s largest hotels, is the inventor of the “Charlie Lindbergh” cocktail. It is compounded of equal parts of kinnalillet [sic] and Plymouth gin, two dashes of orange juice, and apricot and lemon peel.

— “Lindbergh Cocktail Invented in London”, Washington Post (11 June 1927), p. 2.

Abbey cocktail

Bich's special cocktail

Campden cocktail

Charlie Lindbergh cocktail

Corpse reviver (No. 2)

The Culross cocktail

Depth charge cocktail

Eddie Brown cocktail

Frank Sullivan cocktail

Great secret cocktail

H. and H. cocktail

"Hoop la !" cocktail

"Hoots mon" cocktail

Jimmy Blanc cocktail

Kina cocktail

Lily cocktail

Maiden's prayer cocktail (No. 2.)

Odd McIntyre cocktail

Old Etonian cocktail

Prohibition cocktail

Richmond cocktail

Roy Howard cocktail

Self-starter cocktail

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This morning, I sent a query to Jared Brown (of Mixellany fame) regarding Lillet, Craddock, and the US.

In the message, I made the quip, "I guess Craddock was not just the world's largest Hercules and Caperitif fan at the time, but maybe the world's first Lillet Brand Ambassador."

He replied, "Truer than you realize. Craddock appeared in 1930s ads for Lillet in a UK trade magazine."

I would love to see those ads. It seems that Harry Craddock contributed to the popularity of the Lillet brand, at least in the UK.

Interestingly, the book about Lillet indicates that the management team at Lillet was less than impressed with his creations (excerpt from page 147).

Les cocktails preconises par cet ouvrage sont assez peu respectueux de l'authenticite du produit; on melange indistinctement le Lillet au Dubonnet, au Cointreau, au vermouth, a l'absinthe, gin, calvados, rhum etc, ce qui explique la reaction tres reservee des dirigeants: "nous ne sommes guere partisans de conseiller de preparer des cocktails avec du Lilet [sic], pas plus que nous ne sommes partisans de le faire servir avec un syrop quelconque, citron, framboise, fraise, etc. etc. En raison de sa qualite et de sa delicatesse, notre Kina-Lilet doit etre bu pur avec un zeste de citron sans aucun autre melange d'aucune sorte" (lettre du 15-III-1935)
The cocktails recommended by [The Savoy Cocktail Book] show little respect for the authenticity of the product; Lillet is mixed indiscriminately with Dubonnet, Cointreau, vermouth, absinthe, gin calvados, rum etc, which explains a reserved reaction from the management team: "we are hardly in favor of advising people to prepare cocktails with Lilet [sic], nor can we recommend serving it with a syrup of some kind, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, etc.. etc.. Due its quality and its delicacy, our Kina-Lilet must be drunk neat with a lemon zest without any other mixture of any kind " (letter dated 15-III-1935)

Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)

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Odd McIntyre from the Savoy cocktail book (aka Frank Sullivan, Hoop La!): equal parts cognac, Cointreau, Lillet and lemon juice.

8098653192_0166cd4794_z.jpg

I was preparing myself for something on the sweet side like a sidecar (especially with the addition of Lillet), but it was crisp and light. A good warm weather drink!

Gave this a try tonight with my freshly acquired bottled of Ferrand 1840. Definitely a worthy companion to the Corpse Reviver No. 2 in the rotation.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Another one from the Savoy Cocktail Book, the Hoots Mon: scotch, sweet vermouth, Lillet. I decided to try Lillet and Cocchi Americano versions side by side. I preferred the Lillet version and felt that it was more harmonious. I tried very hard to like the Cocchi version but I really could not; it had too much bitterness in the finish for me and did not come together. Interestingly enough, my husband thought that Cocchi produced a more balanced drink. In any case, this is a very good cocktail as Erik already pointed out in the Savoy thread.

8149399668_386fffa408_z.jpg

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I was hoping to find details about the composition and manufacturing process for Lillet in the book Lillet, 1862-1985 by Olivier Londeix but unfortunately it does not include much information. To summarize, it's a Sauternais wine base mixed with wine eau de vie (before 1914 they were using armagnac). The bittering agent is cinchona bark making it a kina (aka quinquina). It's a mix of infusions, alcohol, sugar syrup and distilled water, which is pretty much a generic description for a liqueur. Other flavoring agents are not discussed in the book as far as I could find, and citrus is not even mentioned which is a little odd. In other sources it is reported that peels of sweet, green and bitter oranges are used.

The information about Cocchi Americano is fairly similar. The base is Moscato di Asti with a touch of brandy, and citrus peel as a flavoring agent. There is a difference in bittering agent though - Cocchi uses a combination of cinchona bark and gentian. The difference in bittering agents was noted earlier by one of Lillet's brand ambassador (quote below) and also on this thread.

I actually just toured the Lillet facility in Podensac, France last week. I am the Brand Ambassador on the West Coast (that's why I got to go and check it out). I tasted a bottle of Lillet from 1982 and 1976, which are from before they dropped the name Kina in 1986. It is actually false information that Lillet was in fact more bitter with quinine than it is today. They dropped the name Kina, and in fact went with the drier and slightly less alcoholic version that they had been exporting to the U.S. The reserve Jean de Lillet is more like the original Kina that was produced in France prior to 1986, but that product was never exported to the U.S. The Kina Lillet pre 1986 is as delicate and balanced as the product is today, though slightly nutty and more complex due to bottle aging. I even brought a bottle of Cocchi Americano for the Maitre de Chai (Master Blender) to taste as it has presented itself on the market as a substitute for Lillet, he was shocked, since Lillet has never contained any other herbal or botanical ingredients in the history of its production besides the quinine bark, it has never been nearly as herbal or astringent as the Cocchi. To me, Cocchi is a lovely, bitter vermouth style aperitif with Gentian as the dominate herbal, not quinine. It is not an accurate substitute for Kina Lillet, and in fact, I discovered on this trip, that the Lillet in production today is different only by 1 degree of ABV and slightly less sweet. I hope this helps to illuminate the Kina conundrum. Lillet needs no substitute.

A votre sante!

(September 28, 2010)

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Tried a Golden Dog tonight. After debating between eau-de-vie and liqueur for the "apricot brandy," I eventually went with eau-de-vie (barack palinka), since the amount of sugar seemed more reasonable that way. Really a very tasty drink.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I was hoping to find details about the composition and manufacturing process for Lillet in the book Lillet, 1862-1985 by Olivier Londeix but unfortunately it does not include much information. To summarize, it's a Sauternais wine base mixed with wine eau de vie (before 1914 they were using armagnac). The bittering agent is cinchona bark making it a kina (aka quinquina). It's a mix of infusions, alcohol, sugar syrup and distilled water, which is pretty much a generic description for a liqueur. Other flavoring agents are not discussed in the book as far as I could find, and citrus is not even mentioned which is a little odd. In other sources it is reported that peels of sweet, green and bitter oranges are used.

The information about Cocchi Americano is fairly similar. The base is Moscato di Asti with a touch of brandy, and citrus peel as a flavoring agent. There is a difference in bittering agent though - Cocchi uses a combination of cinchona bark and gentian. The difference in bittering agents was noted earlier by one of Lillet's brand ambassador (quote below) and also on this thread.

I actually just toured the Lillet facility in Podensac, France last week. I am the Brand Ambassador on the West Coast (that's why I got to go and check it out). I tasted a bottle of Lillet from 1982 and 1976, which are from before they dropped the name Kina in 1986. It is actually false information that Lillet was in fact more bitter with quinine than it is today. They dropped the name Kina, and in fact went with the drier and slightly less alcoholic version that they had been exporting to the U.S. The reserve Jean de Lillet is more like the original Kina that was produced in France prior to 1986, but that product was never exported to the U.S. The Kina Lillet pre 1986 is as delicate and balanced as the product is today, though slightly nutty and more complex due to bottle aging. I even brought a bottle of Cocchi Americano for the Maitre de Chai (Master Blender) to taste as it has presented itself on the market as a substitute for Lillet, he was shocked, since Lillet has never contained any other herbal or botanical ingredients in the history of its production besides the quinine bark, it has never been nearly as herbal or astringent as the Cocchi. To me, Cocchi is a lovely, bitter vermouth style aperitif with Gentian as the dominate herbal, not quinine. It is not an accurate substitute for Kina Lillet, and in fact, I discovered on this trip, that the Lillet in production today is different only by 1 degree of ABV and slightly less sweet. I hope this helps to illuminate the Kina conundrum. Lillet needs no substitute.

A votre sante!

(September 28, 2010)

Jackie Patterson was at Tales 2011 and had brought along a bottle of the pre-1986 Lillet for people to taste in the Lillet tasting room. I didn't think it was any more bitter than the modern item. The only difference I could perceive was perhaps a slight bit of oxidation.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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Jackie Patterson was at Tales 2011 and had brought along a bottle of the pre-1986 Lillet for people to taste in the Lillet tasting room. I didn't think it was any more bitter than the modern item. The only difference I could perceive was perhaps a slight bit of oxidation.

Interesting. How old was the bottle that you tried?

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My joyful task tonight was to finish off rapidly aging but well preserved bottle of Lillet Blanc. Managed to do this at the same time as ticking off two cocktails that have been on my to try list for quite some time.

Golden Dog (Gary Regan)

1.5 Oz Scotch - Talisker 10 (I used a blend here as it seemed my best option)

0.5 Oz Lillet Blanc

0.5 Oz Benedictine

0.5 Oz Apricot Liquer (original calls or R&W, I used Apry)

Stir, strain, up.

Lovely way to accent the honey notes of a scotch. A little too sweet for me, but very tasty.

Self Starter (Savoy, but I cannot remember where I found this variation.)

2 Oz Gin (Beefeater)

0.75 Oz Lillet Blanc

0.25 Oz Apricot Liqueur (Apry)

2 ds Absinthe

Stir, strain, up.

A lovely sweet martini-esque drink. I wish there were more drinks which combined apricot and anise flavor, they really harmonize.

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Jamie Boudreau's L'Amour en Fuite with dry gin (Beefeater), Lillet, St Germain (don't shoot me), absinthe rinse (St George). This one is a sweeter Martini alternative, in the same family as Michael Madrusan's Deep Blue Sea (where violette replaces the St Germain & absinthe) or Benjamin Schwartz's Zephyr (with green chartreuse).

 

Absinthe with St Germain does beautiful things, considerably taming down the candy-like flavor of the elderflower liqueur. I've seen this pairing also work wonders in Sam Ross' CR2 variation, the Sunflower.

 

 

15134251075_3456d265d1_z.jpg
 

 

 

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I just opened a bottle of Lillet, so thanks for reminding me of the L'Amour en fuite. And the Sunflower is quite possibly my husband's favourite drink!


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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My latest favorite hot weather drink is a Gentle Persuasion. It calls for Lillet Rose, but so far I've been making it with Blanc just to use up a bottle. Now I'm going to buy some Rose and do it up proper. What other drinks call for Lillet Rose?

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