Warm weather has officially arrived here in Georgia, which has me prepping my liquor cabinet for the sunny days ahead. And there’s no better way to celebrate the Spring and Summer seasons than with a refreshing French 75-inspired Lillet Spritz cocktail!
Although I’m not a seasonal drinker (meaning I believe in drinking Rosé in winter, Old Fashioneds in summer, and Spritzes all year long!) there is something wonderful about sipping on a Spritz when it’s hot outside. Yes, because they’re cold and refreshing, but also because they’re more hydrating than other cocktails!
So today I’m bringing together two of my favorite tipples – a French 75 and a Spritz – and giving the combo a Lillet facelift. Because a) Lillet is perfection and b) Lillet goes in a Spritz as peanut butter goes with jelly!
This Lillet Spritz recipe is a well-balanced blend of Lillet Blanc's floral and fruity flavors and the herbaceous notes of Gin. A touch of citrus adds brightness, while a splash of bubbles adds effervescence, resulting in a light and refreshing cocktail that's perfect for any occasion.
So whether you're hosting a backyard BBQ, relaxing solo by the pool, or picnicking in the park with friends, this Lillet Spritz cocktail is versatile, easy to make, and always pleases a crowd!
What is a Spritz?
We’ve all probably tasted or at least heard of a Spritz cocktail before, but what exactly is it?!
A Spritz is a wine-based cocktail hailing from Northern Italy that combines a bittersweet liqueur with sparkling wine (usually Prosecco) and sparkling water.
The origins of the classic Spritz cocktail date back to the 1800s when Austrian soldiers stationed in the Veneto region of modern-day Italy would ask tavern owners to add a "spritzen" (meaning “splash” in German) of water to their wine to lighten it up because the wines of the region were higher in alcohol than they were accustomed to. This simple request – white wine or red wine diluted with a bit of water – is considered the original Spritz!
Then around the 1920s, both Aperol and Select Aperitivo came on the scene and started being added to the Spritz. It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, that sparkling wine officially took the place of still wine in this classic concoction!
Although the Aperol Spritz is perhaps the most famous version of this drink, there are endless ways to make it. In addition to Aperol, some other go-to ingredients often used in Spritz recipes include Campari, Amaro, Cynar, Select Aperitivo, St.-Germain, and Lillet, among others.
And while the classic Spritz recipe requires just three ingredients, there are countless variations that call for the addition of spirits like Gin, Vodka, and Whiskey or other liqueurs and fortified wines like Pimm’s, Vermouth, and Sherry.
Photo courtesy of Lillet
Now before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to make a Lillet Spritz with Gin and the ingredients you need for it, let’s take a step back to understand exactly what Lillet is and to answer some of the questions that I often get asked about it.
How do you pronounce Lillet?
First things first! The correct pronunciation of Lillet is “Lee-LAY.”
What is Lillet?
Contrary to popular belief, Lillet is not a liqueur! Produced in three different styles, Lillet is a French apéritif aromatized wine made by Maison Lillet in the Bordeaux village of Podensac.
Maison Lillet was founded in 1872 and produced its first bottling of Kina Lillet (later reformulated into Lillet Blanc) in 1887. As Kina Lillet gained popularity in the post-World War I era in Britain, it eventually found its way to America, and in 1962 Lillet Rouge was born to satisfy the American taste for red wine. Lillet Rosé followed many years later, hitting the market in 2011 and building on the success of Rosé wines around the world.
What is Lillet made of?
Simply put, Lillet is made from a blend of Bordeaux wine and fruit infusions that is flavored with South American cinchona and aged in oak barrels from Central France’s Tronçais Forest.
The fruit infusions used in Lillet are primarily comprised of the fruit and peels of sweet oranges that come from Turkey, Morocco, and Spain and bitter oranges that come from Haiti.
In Lillet Blanc, the dominant wine grapes are Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. In Lillet Rosé, Sémillon is the dominant varietal while Merlot is the dominant grape in Lillet Rouge.
What is the flavor of Lillet?
Lillet is available in three different styles, each with its own flavor profile. And because nobody knows this aromatized wine quite like its creator does, Lillet’s tasting notes for each style are as follows:
- Lillet Blanc: smells like flowers, orange blossoms, fresh mint, and vanilla; tastes like candied orange, orange blossom, honey, pine resin, and exotic fruits
- Lillet Rosé: smells and tastes like red berries, orange blossom, and grapefruit
- Lillet Rouge: smells like blackberries and plums; tastes like fresh orange, ripe berries, vanilla, and delicate spices
How alcoholic is Lillet?
With an ABV of only 17%, the alcohol content of Lillet is slightly higher than your average wine but lower than a typical fortified wine. Therefore, the alcohol percentage in a Lillet Spritz is extremely low compared to other cocktails.
However, adding a spirit like Gin as I have to this classic recipe increases the amount of alcohol in the drink.
Can you drink Lillet straight?
In the United States, you typically find Lillet used as a key ingredient in cocktails rather than served on its own. However, you absolutely can drink Lillet Blanc by itself! In fact, it’s considered a popular apéritif in France where the French drink Lillet chilled or on the rocks with fresh or frozen orange slices.
How to drink Lillet depends on your personal palate. Because it has a very unique flavor profile, it may not be to everyone’s taste when consumed straight.
What is a Lillet Spritz?
According to Lillet, the official Lillet Spritz follows the original Spritz recipe unknowingly created by those Austrian troops way back in the 1800s: equal parts Lillet Blanc and club soda, served over ice, and garnished with a slice of orange.
That said, a typical Lillet Blanc Spritz recipe today usually includes sparkling wine as well.
Lillet Spritz vs. Aperol Spritz
If there’s one question I get asked over and over again about Lillet, it’s “Is Lillet similar to Aperol?” And the answer is yes….and no!
When it comes to refreshing Spritz cocktails, the Lillet Spritz and Aperol Spritz are two equally delicious options. And while they do share some similarities, they also have some distinct differences that set them apart.
The Lillet Spritz features Lillet Blanc as its main ingredient, a French apéritif wine made from a blend of Bordeaux wine and citrus liqueurs. This results in a light and refreshing drink that has a delicate floral flavor and a hint of sweetness.
The Aperol Spritz, however, calls for Aperol as its main ingredient, an Italian bitter liqueur made from a blend of gentian root, rhubarb, and orange peel. This results in a drink with a complex, bittersweet orange flavor that packs a bold punch.
Both drinks are typically served over ice and garnished with a slice of orange, but the Lillet Spritz tends to be the preferred option for folks who like a lighter, sweeter drink while the Aperol Spritz is typically the choice for those looking for a bolder, more flavorful drink.
What is a Lillet Spritzer?
Well...there is actually no such thing as a Lillet Spritzer!
A classic Spritzer is made with equal parts wine, spirit, or liqueur and club soda, which is the exact recipe that Lillet uses for its official Lillet Spritz. Therefore, in this rare case, a Lillet Spritzer is actually a Lillet Spritz!
Lillet Spritz Ingredients
The official Lillet Spritz calls for just three ingredients: Lillet Blanc, soda water, and a slice of orange.
But since we’re taking this Spritz with Lillet to a French 75-inspired level, you’ll need a couple more ingredients for my recipe:
- Lillet Blanc
- Fresh lemon juice
- Simple syrup
- Club soda
- Lemon twist to garnish
How to make a Lillet Spritz
Making a white Lillet Spritz could not be any easier! Simply follow these few simple steps and have a cocktail in hand just as quickly as you can say Lillet!
- In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine all the ingredients except for the club soda. Shake the mixture until well combined.
- Next, strain the cocktail into a wine glass filled with ice.
- To finish, top off the drink with some club soda and give it a gentle stir.
- Finally, add a lemon twist as a garnish to give your drink a pop of color and a fresh, citrusy aroma!
When to Serve a Lillet Spritz Drink
Refreshing and delicious, a Lillet Spritz can be served in a variety of settings and for all sorts of occasions. Although super popular during the warm weather months of the year, I like to drink it all year round!
Some ideal times to serve a Lillet Spritz include:
- As an apéritif before a meal
- For a brunch, shower, or daytime event
- For outdoor gatherings like picnics, barbecues, and pool parties
- As a thirst quencher on a hot day
- Any celebratory occasion when something sparkling is in order!
Photo courtesy of Lillet
Frequently Asked Questions about Lillet
A versatile and delicious apéritif wine, Lillet has gained quite the cult following in recent years! But if you're new to this drink or have questions about how to use it, you're not alone. This FAQ section will help answer some of the most common questions about Lillet.
Is Lillet a sparkling wine?
Although Lillet is considered wine, it is not a sparkling wine. It is an aromatized wine, which is a fortified wine flavored with fruit, spices, herbs, florals, and/or other natural flavorings.
Is Lillet a Gin?
No, Lillet is not a Gin. In fact, it’s not a spirit or a liqueur either! Lillet is an aromatized wine.
Is Lillet the same as Vermouth?
Is Lillet similar to Vermouth? Yes. But is Lillet a type of Vermouth? No.
Even though Lillet and Vermouth are both made from wine and fortified with alcohol, they are not the same thing for two key reasons. First, Lillet contains liqueur, and second, Lillet does not contain wormwood.
Does Lillet need to be refrigerated?
Like all types of wine, Lillet will begin to oxidize as it is exposed to oxygen, so it’s best to store it in the refrigerator after opening to maintain its freshness for as long as possible.
Can Lillet go bad?
Because Lillet is technically a wine, it can indeed go bad as it gains exposure to oxygen. However, given that it’s a fortified wine it will take longer than it takes an average bottle of wine to go bad, and refrigerating it after opening will help to maximize its shelf life.
What to mix with Lillet?
You can mix Lillet with all sorts of different things! Although it’s usually used as an ingredient in cocktails such as the Vesper Martini, the Corpse Reviver No. 2, and the Lillet Spritz, try it mixed with club soda, tonic, or juice for a quick, easy, and refreshing sipper.
Gin Lillet spritz calories?
Based on the specs in this Lillet Spritz recipe, there are 231.3 calories in one French 75-inspired Lillet Spritz cocktail.
More sparkling cocktails to try
Looking to mix up your drink repertoire? In addition to this Lillet Blanc Spritz recipe, try one of these other refreshing cocktails whenever you’re in the mood for something light and fresh!
- Cucumber Mint Collins: Refreshing and herbaceous, this drink is perfect for a hot summer day or a relaxing evening on the porch.
- Rosemary Pomegranate Sparkler: A festive and flavorful tipple that strikes a tasty balance between sweet, fruity, and herbaceous.
- Blueberry Basil Spritz: Gin, basil, and blueberries come together in this fun and fruity cocktail you’ll want to make on repeat.
- Arnold Palmer Mimosa: This tasty twist on a classic Mimosa combines lemonade and iced tea to quench your thirst.
- Spiced Cranberry French 75: A seasonal twist on the classic French 75, this drink features a spiced cranberry syrup that can be used in a variety of ways.
Lillet Spritz: Bringing it All Together
With Lillet’s unique blend of floral and fruity notes combined with the herbal essence of Gin, this Lillet Spritz cocktail is a tasty tipple that's perfect for any occasion.
From a romantic date night to a fun gathering with friends, the Lillet Spritz adds a touch of sophistication and whimsy to any social event no matter the setting or the season.
And the best part is, you can easily tailor it to your liking by experimenting with different garnishes and ingredients!
A writer and photographer, Allie Albanese is the founder and curator of Parched Around the World. Here she seeks to tell stories about the intersection of food, drinks, cultures, and traditions in places near and far.
As the Beverage Director and Head Bartender of a high-volume cocktail bar, Allie spent years honing her mixology skills and learning about the fascinating world of drinks. In the time since, she's worked as a wine and cocktail consultant for both private and corporate clients, as well as a freelance journalist writing about cocktails, wine, food, and travel for various publications across the United States and abroad.
When mixing a drink for herself, you’ll likely find Allie with a fresh Gin Gimlet or a spicy Old Fashioned in hand!