Lillet

Lillet

I’m not sure how I discovered Lillet, an orange-infused apéritif wine, made in a town on a road between Sauternes and Bordeaux, but I remember driving through the area and making my friend screech to a halt when we (almost) passed the Lillet factory.

Factory probably isn’t the best word, but macerbatorium probably sounds a little dodgy, but when we walked in, we found ourselves in front of an astounding amount of oranges and shards of bark, bobbing up and down, as they macerated in vats of wine. While that was certainly a riveting sight, equally enticing was the silver daddy who was very easy on the eyes, who took us through the facility, explaining the process of making the famed apéritif wine, then joining us for a little dégustation.

Lillet

It was hard to concentrate on the beverages clinking in our glasses, but I did my best. (I swear.) And I bought a bottle as a souvenir, likely as a pretext for letting us snap a picture of the two of us together, which had a hallowed place over my desk for well over a decade. I don’t know what happened to that picture, but I still pine for Lillet to this day. Interestingly, it’s rare that you find Lillet served in Paris and if you ask around, you’d be hard-pressed to find very many people in town that even know what it is. (Readers of The Sweet Life in Paris know what I was served the first time I tried to order it in a café, which I’m still living down.)

But Lillet has gained a strong following elsewhere in the world, and in a recent James Bond film, he ordered a Vesper, a cocktail crafted similar to a martini, with Lillet replacing the vermouth. So I was excited recently to see that Julhès, right smack-dab here in Paris, was offering a dégustation of all the Lillets, including the newer one, with rosé wine used as a base. When I got there, there were indeed a few bottles lined up on a cask, ready and waiting to be sampled, but no one was around to pour them. There was a fellow pouring tastes of red wine in glasses on another cask, next to the tempting line-up of Lillets, but he said he didn’t know anything about them.

Lillet

When I asked at the counter, the two clerks didn’t know where the guy was either, and neither of them could tell me about the difference between the Lillets normaux, and the réserves, which I was especially eager to learn about, that is, to taste. (See? I told you no one is familiar with Lillet around here. And people think I make all this stuff up…) But I guess it’s time to join them in a way, because I left still not knowing the difference between the regular and the fancified réserve.

Lillet

I decided just to buy a bottle of the Lillet rosé, and to heck with it. And even though the Lillet tasting turned out to be a bust for me, I was excited to find out that this very well-stocked épicerie (specialty food store) carries tortas de aceite, the wispy, crispy, crazy-good olive oil biscuits that I devoured in Seville. I did learn that the sesame sea salt version isn’t as good as the bitter orange ones that I had en Espagne. But at €2,90 (plus round-trip métro fare to the rue Faubourg Saint-Denis), buying the ones they had on hand was cheaper than a trip to Spain.

[The points of this story, so far, seem to be – 1) That you’re never too old to learn new things, and 2) Back up your photos – not just your digital ones.]

Lillet

Once home, I did my own little Lillet dégustation at my kitchen counter. I have to say, as much as I am a big fan of rosé, and Lillet, I’m not as fond of the rosy variety as I am of the classic white wine-based version of the apéritif. So I’ll have to go back to the store and get another bottle once I’m done with this one. Which will be soon, because the coming warm weather makes apéritif wines even more appealing. Almost as much as heading back to the tasting room near Bordeaux for some more hands-on Lillet-fueled action. And perhaps some replacement photos, too.

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89 comments

  • shanna
    April 14, 2014 2:23pm

    Love Lillet. Do they say Lee-Lay in Paris…or Lee-Yay?

  • April 14, 2014 2:33pm

    We recently visited our daughter in Northern California. She manages the tasting room for a local winery in the Lake County area. We were invited on a personal tour of the warehouse upon one of the two days wine was being bottled. I have the greatest respect for this beverage now. The variables that produce a superior to a meager vintage are amazing! And all this time I thought sourdough bread making was a challenge. Ha!

    Grab a product while you can. Don’t look back, but ahead. Enjoy the splendor.

    Best of luck on your upcoming tour David. There is no opening at Central Market in Dallas. Next time have them book you at the Southlake store. Hopefully my friends and I can navigate the concrete jungle for the book signing. :)

  • Chandler in Las Vegas
    April 14, 2014 2:55pm

    Have loved me some Lillet Blonde for a few decades. Nice to see it featured.

    • April 14, 2014 3:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      I love it too. Was excited to see the rosé-based version. But to my taste, I still prefer the blonde since it tastes “cleaner.”

  • Sally
    April 14, 2014 3:21pm

    I read that the Duchess of Windsor introduced Lillet to Paris in the 50s and traveled with a bottle in her luggage — too bad Paris doesn’t remember….

  • Sally
    April 14, 2014 3:24pm

    PS, Central Market in San Antonio carries the bitter orange tortas de aciete.

  • Steve
    April 14, 2014 3:56pm

    I always have a bottle of Lillet blanc on hand. Though first purchased for making my summer cocktail of choice Corpse Reviver #2 I have grown to love it on its own as well.

  • Chris
    April 14, 2014 4:15pm

    What a coincidence! My dear francophone friend just happened to bring some Lillet to a late winter camping trip in Quebec last weekend. She first tried it in France and was overjoyed to discover the it is available at the Liquor stores here in Ottawa, Canada. I tried the red version, but she insisted that the white one is superior. She didn`t mention a Rosé… have you tried the red? It was like a cross b/w a Spanish sangria and a port – lovely!!

  • Pam
    April 14, 2014 4:18pm

    I’d like to try the new version. Central Market in Dallas carries Lillet blanc and the orange tortas.

  • Susan
    April 14, 2014 4:21pm

    In a similar vein, last summer in the south of France we made a point of finding Byrrh, which according to Wikipedia “is a wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle, and quinine”, which we had become fascinated with after seeing all the old advertisements for it over the years. We finally found a bottle and boy did we not like it. We tried fixing it several ways, and finally poured it on the rocks 50-50 with Dubonnet, dubbing it a “Port Plaisace”, as we were on a canal boat by that time. Win some, lose some, but it’s always great to try.

  • April 14, 2014 4:24pm

    I always have a bottle of Lillet in my house. I especially like it, outdoors, on a lazy summer afternoon! It was introduced to me by friends about 30 years ago. I’ve had difficulty finding it in Paris, but was able to finally order a glass at Café Marly many years ago.

  • April 14, 2014 4:33pm

    I go through lots of light Lillet in the summer because I make a drink I call a Flavia (after Flavia de Luce, the intrepid eleven-year-old sleuth in Alan Bradley’s Flavia series of books), which is

    1 ounce fresh lime juice
    1 ounce Plymouth Gin
    1 ounce Bols Triple Sec
    1 ounce Lillet blanc

    Shake, shake, shake in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until very cold, and serve in a martini glass garnished with a cherry (I use Tillen Farms made with pure cane sugar and no red dye)

    I adapted The Flavia from Julie Reed’s Corpse Reviver No. 2, in But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria, which is made essentially the same way, using

    1 ounce gin
    1 ounce Cointreau
    1 ounce Lillet blanc
    1 ounce lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon Pernod
    1 maraschino cherry

    Julia Reed suggests chilling the martini glass with ice, which you discard, before pouring in the cocktail.

    If you like Lillet, you’re sure to like one of these or adapt one of your own – perhaps using orange juice to complement the Lillet.

  • Deborah Stratmann
    April 14, 2014 4:35pm

    http://www.newbordeaux.com/#!lillet/ccsv

    Just in case you have not visited this website, it mentions the reserve Lillet as well as some history.

    dws

    • Marie Greene
      April 17, 2014 4:48pm

      Thanks for this recipe. I found some here in Denver after returning from a long trip to France last year. But I never had it there and really wasn’t sure how to drink it. Thanks so much for the education and recipes.

  • April 14, 2014 4:35pm

    P.S. It’s Julia, not Julie, Reed

  • Linda
    April 14, 2014 4:36pm

    I discovered Lillet when cooking in The Bristol in Louisville over 30 years ago, and it became my after-work drink of choice at the bar there. Then in the past year I discovered the Corpse Reviver, and it’s now a staple in my house. But I too am curious of the “correct” pronunciation. In Louisville we called it Lee-yay, which is consistent with what I know of French pronunciation. Here in my local Indiana liquor store they didn’t know what I was talking about until I said “it looks like LILL-it.” And for some reason they keep the bottles of red with the apertifs, and the white with the wine. Go figure!

  • April 14, 2014 4:39pm

    I first heard about Lillet when in San Francisco and wanted to make a special drink for a VIP luncheon. The drink suggested was a kir royale, which was champagne and an equal amount of Lillet. It was served very cold with a few raspberries in the bottom of the glass for color. Very nice summer luncheon drink.

  • Mary Ann Falciani
    April 14, 2014 4:42pm

    David,

    I have a wonderful summer cocktail that I make with Lillet. Fill a double old fashion
    glass with half ice, add splash of G.E. Massenez Creme di Cassis de Dijon,
    then fill half the glass with Lillet. Finally fill the rest of the glass with club soda and a then take a slice of lemon, squeeze in juice and then add the slice.

    Cool refreshing for the summer. You can adjust the Cassis to your taste.
    If you add to much you lose the taste of the lovely Lillet.

  • Carol E. Hickman
    April 14, 2014 4:42pm

    Lillet, like mint juleps after Derby Day, is a sure sign that spring is here at last.

  • Mari
    April 14, 2014 4:46pm

    One of my favorite Amsterdam restaurants serves it as their house apéritif, served ice cold with a few cubes of ice and a twist of orange. I feel in love with it, but was quite surprised to find that it’s not commonly stocked in most bars and restaurants. Last weekend I stumbled upon a tiny shop called Cocktail Boutique in the Pijp that sells cocktail supplies and vintage barware and they just happened to have one solitary bottle, so I snatched it right up! I’ll lift my glass to you when I have my first one!

  • Hillary
    April 14, 2014 4:53pm

    I love Lillet Blanc and like many other folks here, almost always have a bottle in the house. (Although now that I have a reliable source for Cocchi Americano, sometimes I get that instead…) I saw the rosé version at the liquor store recently and was excited since, like you, I’m a rosé lover. But you’ve intrigued me with your preference for the blanc – I’ll have to try it to see if I concur!

  • April 14, 2014 4:56pm

    Orange Lillet Glazed Turkey (or chicken or pork)
    Leftovers never tasted so good!

    2 cups shredded turkey (or chicken or pork)
    1 TBS butter (preferably clarified)
    salt, pepper, thyme
    3/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup Lillet Blanc
    1 TBS honey

    Shred leftover turkey by hand into bite sized pieces and place into a hot skillet with butter (if you use clarified butter you can use a hotter skillet for better browning). Season to taste with salt, pepper and thyme, and quickly stir-fry to lightly brown and warm. Remove meat and reserve.

    Add orange juice and simmer to reduce by 2/3. Add Lillet and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add honey, stirring to dissolve then add turkey. Stir to glaze and serve over mixed spring greens, rice or couscous, drizzling with remaining sauce. Serves 4 – Chef Mick Rosacci, TonysMarket.com

  • Grant
    April 14, 2014 4:56pm

    Note on making the Vesper cocktail: rather than adding quinine powder to restore the “Kina” quality to the now-reformulated Lillet Blanc, try substituting Cocchi Americano for the Lillet. In any event, without the quinine undertone, a Vesper just isn’t a Vesper. It’s like drinking gin with club soda instead of tonic. CA is very nice by itself, of course. And I second Susan’s remarks about Byrrh, now available in the US again.

  • April 14, 2014 4:58pm

    Bond’s Kina Lillet had a bitter bite of quinine. In the 1980’s they did away with Kina and made Lillet Blanc. Bond would not approve. Aficionados of the Bond martini would often spike Lillet with a touch of quinine to replicate the original. Today there is a great substitute for Kina Lillet; Cocchi Aperitivo Americano has the sweetness and citrus of Lillet but with that bitter jolt of quinine. Give it a try.

  • Philip
    April 14, 2014 5:10pm

    Lillet is a great aperitif, but all things considered, I prefer Pineau de Charentes.

  • Laura Tyson
    April 14, 2014 5:18pm

    The last time I was in Paris I went to a small cafe for dinner with a friend who lives there. I ordered a Lillet avec un piece d’orange (Lillet with an orange slice) in my best mediocre french; confident any restaurant in Paris would stock this wonderful aperitif. My friend and I sat and chatted and soon our drinks arrived; Sandy got her Chablis and I got my glass of milk with a piece of orange mashed in it (Le lait avec un piece d’orange). I sat and stared at it turning every shade of crimson thinking my poor french had embarrassed me once again. Thank God my friend stepped in and explained to the waiter that she clearly heard me pronounce “Leelay” and not “le lay”. Thus saving me extreme embarrassment. It turned out he had never heard of Lillet. To this day I remember my mortification and never assumed that every bar in France stocked the stuff. Your story brought back vivid memories for me. I love your blog – even more so now!

  • Kathy
    April 14, 2014 5:18pm

    David, You haven’t clarified about the pronunciation. I am dying to know, since I have always pronounced it with a single L, but your other correspondent is correct, it should be with a Y if using French language rules. Don’t know why I never noticed. How are you pronouncing it?

  • carol
    April 14, 2014 5:18pm

    Steve, care to share your “summer cocktail of choice” the Corpse reviver #2 with us?

  • Michelle
    April 14, 2014 5:21pm

    David:

    Thank you so much for highlighting a lovely drink and eliciting so many wonderful recipes from your readers. I especially love the Blanc, but I’ll never turn down a glass of the Rouge. And many thanks to everyone who posted recipes. I’m saving everyone of them. :-)

    …Lillet, like mint juleps after Derby Day, is a sure sign that spring is here at last.

    Truer words were never spoken, Carol.

  • Tricia
    April 14, 2014 5:37pm

    Just had Lillet aperos Saturday at Boulibar in the SF Ferry building – but they came with a hefty twist of lemon! Does not do it for me – I always thought orange was de rigeur with Lillet, now I’ll ask.

    • April 15, 2014 6:52am
      David Lebovitz

      Lemon? Hmmm… I’ll stick with a twist of orange ; )

  • Diane Welnhofer
    April 14, 2014 5:38pm

    David, I had the same reaction 8 years ago during my first trip to Paris. I had been drinking Lillet for years here in the states and when I ordered Lillet in a small bistro in St. Germain they looked at me and thought I was ordering milk! Le lait! I thought I was being so Francais ordering it as my aperitif…

  • Jessica
    April 14, 2014 5:40pm

    Bark? Is that a name for a part of the orange?
    Or is on the floor to prevent bottles from shattering if dropped?

  • Sarahb1313
    April 14, 2014 5:43pm

    I have a bottle of Kina L’Avion d’Or to make Vesper cocktails with. I also like it chilled!
    It comes in a gorgeous bottle too.
    That producer also makes a creme de menthe and violette that are fabulous :-)

  • April 14, 2014 5:53pm

    This looks lovely, and while I’ve seen it listed in loads of cocktails on various food blogs, I’ve never had it or used it before. I’ve noted it on my list when I go replenish my wine and liquor supply when I visit my French home later in the month!

  • April 14, 2014 5:56pm

    The sun’s out and I need a lillet on ice right now!

  • April 14, 2014 5:59pm

    I have loved Lillet for a very long time, initially concentrating on the infused orange peel.. Over the years I have mixed it up a bit by adding two other aperitifs to my repertoire. One, which I was introduced to by a friend who visited me in the Dordogne, she arrived from the Charentes region of France, near Bordeaux, with a bottle of Pineau des Charentes. I heartily recommend it. Another is Punt e Mes which I most recently enjoyed at Zuni as I waited (for much longer than 45 minutes) for the signature chicken dish. Yes, I know these aren’t at all the same thing – but you’ll enjoy your LIllet even more if you cheat on it with other aperitifs once in a while!

  • April 14, 2014 6:10pm

    I’d like to give it a try now. Or to have any drink for that matter, lol. At least the trip left you with a good story!

  • April 14, 2014 6:14pm

    We’ve been drinking Lillet for years, so it came as quite a shock/surprise that finding it, or even finding anyone who knew what the heck it was, would prove to be so difficult in France. Every time I see a bottle, which isn’t as often as I would like, I buy it!

  • Laura
    April 14, 2014 6:18pm

    We used to drink a little San Rafael over ice as a quick aperitif. Can’t get it in the states anymore, and I’m not sure they even make it anymore. Love those glasses!

  • April 14, 2014 6:23pm

    Two of my favorite things: Lillet and Tortas des acietes! And in one column by one of my favorite food writers-/ thank you!

  • April 14, 2014 6:24pm

    The rose was quite elusive for a while, but I finally found it in the Piedmont (Oakland) grocery store on Piedmont Ave. I saw a cocktail with it using gin. I haven’t cracked it open yet, but plan to now that the weather is better. There is also another spirit shop that opened in Oakland just last week called “Alchemy,” they carry some unusual spirits, including the violet liquor that we decided to pick up. Next time you are in the Bay Area, go check out this shop, it is worth the trip http://www.alchemybottleshop.com/

  • Christophe
    April 14, 2014 6:29pm

    I had an interesting Lillet experience in Paris. One night I dined at Au Petit Riche and ordered the foie gras appetizer. Oddly enough they didn’t offer any Sauternes or Monbazillac by the glass, and I wasn’t going to order a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem. But they did have Lillet, and I had that straight up and it was perfect with the foie gras. So now you know of another place in Paris where they have (or had) Lillet.

  • Marguerite
    April 14, 2014 6:32pm

    Here’s a refreshing Lilllet au Citron from Gourmet magazine. Make a simple syrup with sugar and lemon juice (1:1). Put a few tablespoons of the cooled syrup in a glass filled with ice. Add about 1/2 cup Lillet blanc and stir. Top off with sparkling water and garnish with a lemon slice.

  • SuzanneHamlin
    April 14, 2014 6:58pm

    Thanks so much, David for this boot in the..mouth! Once enamoured of Lillet and Pineau de Charentes some 45 years ago (time blurs but I think I first had both while living in Paris), I have had neither in years. (Or wonderful Kirs made with creme de cassis for that matter). But a loss soon to be rectified: your post is just in time for Easter, this Sunday, April 20; I cannot think of a nicer way to begin an Easter family and friends meal than a lovely glass of (blonde) Lillet!
    And re pronunciation: I have never heard it pronounced any way other than “lee-lay.”
    And, Carol–what a joyous thought re Mint Juleps . As a born and raised Louisvillian, am anticipating the first of those in a couple of weeks on Derby Day, Saturday, May 3rd. Have just started to polish up my sterling mint julep cups (given to me on birthdays throughout my childhood). As Louisvillians are smug about: Mint Juleps MUST be drunk from a silver julep cup–the taste of the ice cold metal is essential to the taste of the drink. (Those without them do not despair; “silver” disposable party cups are acceptable in a pinch).
    As for those wonderful tortas de acietes: both the plain and a (mildly) sweet version are sold here in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley, NY–at Adams a small chain of upscale groceries. They are about $2 a packet–and often on sale. Will stock up on those along with the Lillet . Here’s to a lovely celebration of Spring!

  • Sarah
    April 14, 2014 7:27pm

    There is a wonderful restaurant in New Orleans called Lillet. Their signature cocktail is, course, made with the same. It’s SO good. If your book tour takes you to NOLA, I highly recommend Lillet- the food was also delicious and you won’t be disappointed.

  • Laura Forman
    April 14, 2014 7:42pm

    Loved the tribute to Lillet! I’ve been a fan of the aperitif for years and wish more restaurants would offer it. Maybe your blog post will spur a resurgence!

  • Laura M
    April 14, 2014 8:14pm

    @shanna, In France it’s pronounced LEE-LAY — it doesn’t rhyme with “billet”.

    David, when I moved to Paris, I too was surprised to find that Lillet is not very well known — I’d supposed it would be an apéritif of choice, but it’s not. We first discovered it in Berkeley, and Lillet remains a special drink (and I agree with you about white vs. rosé).

    What do Parisians serve instead? Second to kir, it’s often “porto,” oddly drunk BEFORE meals, and not after!

    • April 15, 2014 6:50am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it helps to think of the “i” in French being pronounced like “e”, in English (and vice versa.) So your pronunciation is correct. It was really surprising when I first arrived in Paris and found that few, if any people, knew what it was. (Same with some other apéritifs.) But as it was explained to me by French friends, if something is regional (like Lillet apparently is), it’s not well-known outside of its region. Interesting that everyone knows Cognac, calvados, and pastis, but Lillet gets little attention. Was surprised the people at the shop that I was at, which is an excellent, well-stocked épicerie, didn’t know about it either.

  • Dave
    April 14, 2014 8:41pm

    At Christmas I made a Lillet gastrique which I served over some squab. It was delicious

  • PeterCL
    April 14, 2014 8:44pm

    I haven’t tasted Lillet (although, the next chance I get . . . .) but am wondering how it work in a Negroni instead of the Campari? I have been using Aperol recently as the Campari substitute (finding that Gin and Campari in the same drink a bit strong).

  • April 14, 2014 9:00pm

    Ahh … you found Lillet!! I was so disappointed the first time I went to Paris and discovered that it was nowhere to be found. I first had it at this massively crazy and delicious French restaurant near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. After that I always had a bottle at home for an aperitif, because it was easy to find in DC and then even later in Minneapolis. But in Paris? NO! I was so hoping to bring a bottle back to Italy to share with my husband who has heard tale of this mythic aperitivo. Enjoy!

  • JudyMac
    April 14, 2014 9:07pm

    While visiting with friends on the lower Florida east coast back in December, I drove to Palm Beach Gardens to check out a food emporium that had been highly recommended. There I discovered the Ines Rosales Tortas and brought home a package of the Rosemary & Thyme flavor. Had I sampled them before I left Florida, I probably would have brought home several packages. Much to my surprise, a few weeks later I discovered them in my Fresh Market here in Atlanta. They are wonderful to have as a snack item, particularly as a bread replacement, and delightful with a salad. Our price across the pond is $5.49 for a package of six, so I can’t gorge on them, but they will frequently be on my grocery list.

  • Julie
    April 14, 2014 9:14pm

    If anyone is wondering about the history and the different versions of Lillet, I found a blog post about it. I had no idea that there are four different versions.

    http://drinksanddrinking.com/2013/04/08/lillet/

  • Martha J McC
    April 14, 2014 9:16pm

    Yeah! Thank you David for reminding the world of this greatly undersung “out of fashion” aperatif wine!
    After decades of not tasting it since heady days in early 80s NYC, last year I found a source here in Melbourne Australia, and was thrilled to see it on a restaurant liquor shelf not much longer.
    Let’s all bring it back into fashion so it is stocked in more places!
    Moi, I am of the blanc school, not sure rose would appeal!

    Chin Chin!

  • Susan
    April 14, 2014 9:40pm

    We make our favorite winter cocktail, oddly enough, with Lillet Blanc – freshly squeezed blood oranges, lots of ice, and Lillet to taste – as long as the blood oranges last, that’s what we’re drinking. I bought a bottle of the rose, but haven’t really cottoned to it yet. However, I do have a cocktail recipe from Martha Stewart that sounds promising (haven’t tried it yet), so in case you are interested: For a pitcher of cocktails, combine 6 oz. Lillet Rose, 6 oz. grapefruit juice, 3 oz, gin, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake, and divide among three cocktail glasses. And of course, don’t forget the fresh flower garnish – did I mention this was Martha?

  • Linda L.
    April 14, 2014 9:56pm

    So, David, a bottle of Lillet would be a suitable welcome gift at one of your tour stops?!?

    • April 15, 2014 6:44am
      David Lebovitz

      Since I’m traveling carry-on, the only liquids I can take have to be no more than 3 ounces – so no bottles for me : )

  • Karl S.
    April 14, 2014 9:57pm

    i first heard of lillet when in the film, ‘casino royale’, bond [007] (daniel craig) was on the train headed toward montenegro and ordered a martini with a spash of lillet..i tried it and i like it…a lot!……….thanx, david…..

  • April 14, 2014 11:40pm

    Interestingly enough I’ve seen Lillet featured occasionally in drinks at more craft cocktail-ish bars around the US. Funny how a French liquor seems to have more prominence here than in its native country. Must be the sudden wave of craft cocktail culture.

  • April 15, 2014 12:02am

    Amazon has the tortas de aciete. While you’re there, order David’s book.

  • Bob Blesse
    April 15, 2014 12:43am

    Last summer, Bon Appetit had a recipe of Eric Ripert’s for fresh peaches marinated in Lillet—lovely dessert!

    http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/peaches-in-lillet

  • April 15, 2014 1:07am

    Lillet blanc is our favorite summer aperitif / for decades!

  • April 15, 2014 1:15am

    Lillet, oh yes, is pronounced Lee-LAY.
    I live in southwest France, and had loved it ever since I discovered it in Paris before we moved down here. True, it’s not an easy find further north, and sometimes took a bit of explaining when ordering it (and a trip to the bar by the waiter), but I usually managed to get a glass more often than not.
    It’s a staple in my fridge too, red in winter, white in summer….both nicely chilled, thank you!
    Pineau (also from these parts) is ok, but to me not nearly as nice.

  • heidipie
    April 15, 2014 1:15am

    I make vin d’orange by the gallon (thanks to you and other virtual sages)–in which direction do you think I’d need to tweak it to produce something Lillet-like?

  • Ellen
    April 15, 2014 1:53am

    Many years ago friends and I attended a Stately Dinner at Meadow Brook Estate, former home of M. Dodge, one of the Dodge brothers was her first husband. We even got to spend the night. Before dinner we were served Lillet on the terrace.

  • Barbara
    April 15, 2014 1:54am

    David,
    Please drop over to the North Olmpic Peninsula while visiting the Seattle and the northwest. I do hope to meet you in Seattle or possibly in Vancouver.
    But would love to have you here on our little farm.
    I am not famous but, we do have the famous pie maker Kate McDermott living here and I could round up some other famous folks for you to meet If you would like.
    Safe travels
    Barbara

  • jmm
    April 15, 2014 2:26am

    David,
    In your email you said that the photo from Lillet “had a hollowed place” over your desk.Even if you bored a hole in the wall from staring at it, it was really in a “hallowed” place over your desk.
    Regardless you make Lillet sound wonderful. I will have to find some.

  • Janet Catesby
    April 15, 2014 4:16am

    Thanks again for the laughs, you do indeed have a gift for writing as you also no doubt do for food and cooking. I remember having Lillet back in the 70’s when I was in Normandy staying with my then boyfriend’s parents. Loved it.

  • April 15, 2014 8:44am

    david, i’m in boston where we are so lucky to have the Tortas de Aceite from Matiz, through our local Formaggio Kitchen. The sweet ones have anise and sesame seed and are SO superior to the Ines Rosales. hope you can find them.

    http://matizespana.com/products/8breads/8b_MatAnd_tortas.html

    also, Lillet is pretty readily available here, fortunately.

  • Melanie
    April 15, 2014 6:20pm

    Two years ago, when I last went to Paris, I was on a mission to find Lillet. And I did, at the Monoprix on bd Saint Michel. I really like it on its own and have been drinking it sparingly as I cannot find it where I live. Time for another trip!

    @Victoria: I love Flavia, too, and will have to try your recipe!

  • Terry Covington
    April 15, 2014 10:38pm

    Hi, David. Let’s just say one would not want to say the word “macerbatorium” out loud too fast around someone you didn’t know well. :-) I love your sense of humor.

  • April 16, 2014 12:01am

    David,
    Love this store. It is right next to the apartment my friend and I always rent when we come to Paris. :) Can’t wait to go there in a couple weeks. Will definitely get some Lillet on your recommend! Thanks! :)

  • Judy
    April 16, 2014 2:43am

    When I need a “bit of summer” even in the foggy July days of the SF Bay Area, I mix together some rose Lillet and some San Pellegrino over ice. Our local Bev Mo as well as our neighborhood Northbrae Bottle Shop carry Lillet! Cheers to you, David.
    Hope you are doing well.

  • Hannah
    April 16, 2014 2:17pm

    J’aDORE Lillet! I bartend in the US, and we mostly serve beer and wine, but our specialty cocktail is Lillet with a splash of Prosecco over ice and an orange slice. They are so so tasty, and they’ll knock you down after a couple if you are not careful. It’s 8:00 here and you have my mouth watering!

  • Sandra Alexander
    April 16, 2014 6:17pm

    In Bordeaux right now, going to Carrefour La Bastide tomorrow to get Lillet, saw it there yesterday. Thanks Daveed!

  • dotti cahill
    April 17, 2014 12:52am

    i coud never find Lillet in Paris at any hotel bars or restaurants ..I put piece of orange zest in mine on the rocks but lime is good too.

  • Gina
    April 17, 2014 1:42am

    I just finished reading your new book. Great job, I love it! Just wanted to say that I think your significant other found a good’un, too! Salute and thanks.

  • Katie
    April 17, 2014 2:06am

    Alice Waters has a recipe for vin d’orange in her latest cookbook. Have you ever tried to make homemade wines or liqueurs?

  • Prathi
    April 17, 2014 5:12am

    David, I was just in Paris and I had a Lillet (on a lovely, sunny, 70F afternoon) at a cafe on Rue Rivoli near the Marais — I think near the St. Paul metro stop on 1. It was called something like Le Favorit…

  • DanD
    April 17, 2014 6:44am

    Comment dit-on “silver daddy” en francaise?

  • Alicia
    April 17, 2014 11:17am

    Lillet Blanc & Lillet Rosé, both made in France, are sold at Liquor Stores in Ontario, Canada. About Cad $17.95
    The LCBO website indicates the following:

    Made in: France, France
    By: Lillet Freres

    Wine, Specialty Wines, Vermouth/ Aperitif, 17.0% Alcohol/Vol.

    Varietal: Aperitif, Sugar Content: 86 g/L

    Sweetness Descriptor: MS – Medium Sweet

    Description
    Try it like this: To a Champagne flute, add 1 oz chilled Lillet. Top with 4 oz Champagne or sparkling wine and garnish with a gooseberry (Michelle P. E. Hunt and Laura Panter, Food & Drink, Holiday 2006)

    Tasting Note
    This classic French aperitif wine from Bordeaux is a blend of sauvignon and semillon grapes with an addition of 15 per cent liqueurs obtained by macerating sweet and bitter oranges in brandy. Matured up to a year in oak vats, it’s mellow and elegant with uplifting orange peel notes and a touch of bitterness that stimulates the palate.

  • April 17, 2014 5:35pm

    I first bought a bottle of Lillet to make James Bond’s Vesper martini. That was years ago. I never make Vespers any more, but I still always keep the stuff on hand. It’s versatile and great for cocktails.

  • Andie
    April 18, 2014 7:19pm

    J’adore Lillet Blanc!

  • dotti cahill
    April 19, 2014 5:51pm

    Congrats nice article in WSJ today page C-9 My Paris Kitchen….NICE!!!!

  • Alison
    April 22, 2014 8:09am

    I have been so curious about the taste of Lillet, and have not gotten a satisfactory answer; this post was well timed! Also, I’m curious about the pronunciation… “Ette” or “Ay”? I’ve said it with the “ay” sound at the end, but have no confidence in myself!

    • Laura M
      April 22, 2014 8:36am

      @Allison — I realize that there are a lot of comments, but if you’ll scroll up you’ll see a discussion on the pronunciation.

      Spoiler: it’s Lee-LAY, and so your confidence in yourself is well merited!

      David, several days ago another commenter asked whether it rhymed with “billet”, and I’m not sure that you got the thrust of his or her question. The point is, “why doesn’t “Lillet” [pronounced Lee-LAY] rhyme with “billet” [Bi-YAY]”? In other words, why doesn’t it obey the normal French rule that a double L following a I should be pronounced like “Bastille” [Bas-TEEy] or “fille” [FEEy]? I don’t know the answer for sure, but my guess as a quasi-trained linguist is that it’s because “Lillet” is a personal name, and names sometimes break the rules. (Two other exceptions are “ville” [“VEEL”] and “tranquille” [tran-KEEL], and I’ll explain why to anyone who cares.)

      On a related note, I thank the person who wrote that Lillet is available at BevMo. I ordered the blanc and the rouge right away, and Saturday night, after the Easter Vigil, I grabbed an orange off the tree (we do live in Berkeley), and prepared the blanc just as in David’s photo above. Oh wow! I had forgotten how utterly delicious it is!

      Merci encore, David, pour le blog.

  • Robyn
    April 22, 2014 5:15pm

    Lillet came to Geneva, Switzerland about a year ago. It’s in Manor and Globus. Maybe you can stock up on your next Swiss trip, David (assuming you take the TGV).

  • Cath
    April 22, 2014 6:47pm

    I had adored Lillet for years, but lamented it’s priceyness here in Oregon. Then I tried Amanda Hesser’s recipe for Vin de Pamplemousse in The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She exults: “better than Lillet”, and people, she is right! So easy, so good. I think it makes the most fabulous G & T ever. Muddle a hefty hunk of OG grapefruit in a double-old fashioned glass, add two parts gin, one part Lillet, top with Fever Tree Tonic. Another favorite, The Bitter Heiress, which can be found on the NYT site.