Everyone knows about THAT spritz, but this more mellow Lillet spritz is one to get to know as well. It's light and gently fruity, with just enough bubbles. And so incredibly easy too. Perfect for brunch, aperitivo hour or summer sipping.
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There are certain times when a stronger cocktail hits the mark, but other times when something lighter is best. For many years, that meant a gin and tonic for me (or a st germain gin and tonic if I am feeling fancy). While I do still enjoy them, it's also nice to have a change.
This lovely spritz variation is perfect for when you want a light, chilled drink, that's also that bit different.
What makes a drink a spritz?
The name comes from German "spritzen" meaning "splash" and originates from Austrian soldiers who were based in Italy. They were used to drinking water, so added sparkling water to the wine to both weaken it and make it a little carbonated.
Over time, the drink evolved and these days, the spritz cocktail generally refers to drinks that are made with part prosecco or other sparkling wine, along with an aperitif, topped up or 'splashed' with a little sparkling water or club soda. They are usually served cold over ice, most often in a wine glass.
The classic ratio is two parts aperitif, three parts sparkling wine and one part sparkling water, if using. This results in a cocktail that's a little more interesting than plain wine or prosecco, with a gentle bubbliness, but also not particularly strong. In other words, perfect pre-dinner sipping.
While the best known version is with Aperol, you can use a broad range of other bases to get different characters of drink. This often means swapping or supplementing the Aperol with for example vermouth, amaro or various other aperitifs and liqueurs.
In this case, it is Lillet.
What is Lillet?
Lillet is actually not just one drink but three different varieties of a drink. It is made in Bordeaux in France and is a fortified wine that comes in white, red and rosé versions. Each has their own character and flavors. Traditionally, you would drink Lillet straight up or maybe with tonic.
While it might sound like vermouth, technically Lillet is not a vermouth due to containing liqueur and not containing wormwood in the flavoring. However they can often be used as an alternative to vermouths in cocktails, such as in the unusual negroni.
As described by Lillet themselves, Lillet blanc has elements of candied orange, pine and honey. Lillet rosé has hints of grapefruit, orange blossom and berries, and Lillet rouge has dark fruits and delicate spices.
Which version of Lillet to use
For this cocktail, you can actually make it with any of the three variations. You'll basically get three slightly different drinks. Each takes on some of the character of the Lillet version you are using, as well as the color, of course.
Here I have gone with Lillet Blanc which has a lovely fresh flavor with hints of grape and citrus. I added a couple grapes and slices of cucumber to the glass which pair well. For the rosé or rouge versions, you might want to add some berries and/or orange slices.
Whether dressed up or not, and whatever color you choose, the Lillet spritz is a super easy and wonderfully refreshing cocktail. The flavors are that bit more mellow yet complex than some other spritz drinks, making this a great crowd-pleaser for so many occasions. So give it a try, and cheers!
Try these other sparkling cocktails:
If you are looking for more Lillet cocktails, see Bitters and Bottles' Lillet Q&A with some ideas as well as more about Lillet.
- 2 oz Lillet 60ml (blanc, rose or rouge as you prefer)
- 3 oz sparkling wine 90ml (prosecco or other)
- 1 oz sparkling water 30ml, optional
- Place three or more ice cubes in a large wine glass and add the Lillet.
- Add the sparkling wine to the glass and sparkling water, if using. If you like, add a couple garnishes to the drink - suggest cucumber slices and grapes for Lillet blanc and berries and/or orange slices for Lillet rouge and rose.