l’été tu me manques
On my chilly, grey and gritty walk from the parking garage to work this morning my mind started day-dreaming about summer and all of the wonderful and warm things that go along with months like May and June here in Cincinnati. Lets see, there is swimming and Coney Island, biking in the cemetery, pints outside + bocci ball and burgers, cookouts and campouts and day hikes, picnics, ice cream, and late nights on the fire escape. One of my favorite new experiences from last summer was my first Lillet, thanks to my friend, the lovely Francophile Elisabeth Hodges (tu me manques!). In summer it always feels like anything could happen, where the world opens up wide again in that sparkling summer way, and the nights seem longer and you seem a little less tired the next morning after a tipsy evening. Lillet is the perfect fit for summer, I can’t wait for both!
A Lillet (pronounced Lil-ay) is a chilled French apéritif wine, meaning it is served alongside a cheese, or fruit before a meal to stimulate the appetite. The Lillet is a mix of Bordeaux wine and citrus liquors, such as oranges and grapefruit, and is made in both red and white form; I’ve only had the white, and in its complex simplicity it is amazing. Incidentally, the red (rouge) form of Lillet was created in the 1990’s specifically for the American market. As a crass generality American’s love loud, robust and boisterous reds, to be honest though I can’t imagine a Lillet rouge fitting that description based on my experience with the Lillet blanc. The latter definitely has a sultry zing to it, but in a lingering party-at Gatsby’s-glitter and feel the night slowly melting away kind of way (if that makes any sense).
Unlike many wines, there really isn’t only one good way to drink a Lillet blanc. Granted, I’ve only had it chilled and served alone, but the next time I can find one I’m going to try a new variation:
The Old Etonian, circa 1925 London, England:
1.5 oz Gin
1.5 oz Lillet blanc
2 dashes of orange bitters
2 dashes Creme de Noyaux (has an almond flavor)
Shake with ice and strain into stemmed glasses, serve with twist of orange peel