What is Lillet?

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You may have heard of Lillet, if you hangout around enough French people & bars it is bound to have come up at some point or another. Turns out, Lillet is considered to be the best known French aromatized wine in the world. It’s a classy drink with a fancy name for a fancy reason. If you haven’t tried it but you consider yourself a wine lover, you will definitely enjoy this drink.


By definition, Lillet is a wine-based aperitif from Podensac, and much like Champagne, it is protected by EU law. Its taste tends to range from strong citrus, to a bit of a wine texture, and a slight bitter finish.

It’s a blend of 15% macerated citrus liqueurs, and 85% Bordeaux region wines.

Once the ingredients are acquired, the potion is stirred in oak vats until blended, and then it is aged! Yep, just like wine! The process of aging Lillet is actually the same as for Bordeaux wines.

Lillet is actually stronger than wines as it contains 17% ABV, but it’s also not as strong as spirits.

The original formula, which contained quinine from Peru, was discontinued around 1985, because of changes in demand.

A Brief History:

Around the 19th century people, Europeans in particular, developed a great fear of illnesses, because of Louis Pasteur’s findings.

He claimed wine was the most hygienic and healthy beverage. This caused tonic wines (those including quinine) to be the center of attention, since quinine could be used to battle fevers and even ease malaria symptoms.

This is when the brothers, Paul and Raymond Lillet, distillers and merchants of wines and spirits and the founders of La Maison Lillet in Podensac, like good businessmen decided to take advantage of this new trend and create their own distinctive brand.

Paul and Raymond created Kina Lillet in 1887, the first and only aperitif from Bordeaux.

This allowed for the product to gain traction and become known worldwide. Now you can just go to your local bar or liquor store and purchase a bottle of Lillet.

Types of Lillet

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Lillet Blanc: This one is the oldest and most well-known of the bunch. It also resembles wine, both in color, and in taste. This is the one that is mostly used in cocktails that contain Lillet. Tastewise, itt has abundant flower and herb notes.

Lillet Rose: This was the last one to join the party, but it is also one of the main favorites. This one was introduced into the U.S. market because of the increasing popularity of rose in 2011. This is the sweetest of the bunch, with strong tones of grapefruit. Fans of rose will enjoy this aperitif, dry, served with ice.

Lillet Rouge: The second addition to the Lillet family was the Rouge, which was introduced to the U.S. around the 60’s because of the growing demand for red wines. Though it contains much of the same ingredients as the Rose, is not as popular. It’s a lot more bitter, but a good aperitif for a strong dinner. Many say it resembles the taste of red wine.

Lillet is typically enjoyed during summer months, but we ask that now that you know so much about it, that you try it. Don’t wait until June and miss out, it deserves your attention! Let us know what you did, a cocktail? Neat? We love hearing your feedback.

Thanks for reading, and as always…

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City