This Gin and Lillet Rosé Cocktail features aromatic gin, Lillet Rosé (a French aromatized aperitif wine), prickly pear syrup, and aromatic or angostura bitters. An off-dry cocktail, this refreshing sipper hints of blood oranges, orange blossoms, fresh herbs, and juniper berries. Its deep pink hue makes it a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day or a Mother’s Day brunch, but you’re sure to enjoy it any time of year!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – What is Lillet and Why I Love It
Lillet is a brand of French aperitif wine. It is a type of aromatized wine, which means the wine is fortified with spirits and flavored with a variety of botanicals and fruits. The proprietary recipes are kept under lock and key! Lillet is often enjoyed as an aperitif (a light alcoholic beverage consumed prior to the meal), and typically served chilled with a twist of citrus peel.
Lillet has a long history, with the brand dating back to the late 19th century in France. It gained popularity as a classic aperitif and has been used in many classic cocktails, such as the vesper martini, which is famously featured in James Bond novels and movies. I often use Lillet Blanc in this orange vesper martini.
Lillet comes in several different varieties. Made from a blend of sémillon and sauvignon blanc grapes, Lillet Blanc hints of floral, orange blossom, fresh mint, and vanilla on the nose. Its taste may remind you of candied orange, orange blossoms, honey, pine resin, or exotic fruit. It is somewhat dry and very crisp on the finish.
Lillet Rouge, their red version, is made from merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes, and infused with fruit liqueurs. Wine.com describes it as “cherry-red color. Assertive bouquet of freshly picked grapes, black cherries, black raspberries, apricots and pepper keeps the olfactory sense focused. In the mouth, it behaves like a fat, chewy red from the sun-drenched south of France; tastes ambrosial and clean. Finishes short, mildly fruity and ripe.” I have an open bottle in my wine collection, and this is an apt description.
Lastly, there is a Lillet Rosé, which is a pink-hued variation made with a blend of wines and fruit liqueurs. Lillet Rosé is a major player in this lovely gin and Lillet cocktail. It is a blend of Bordeaux white wine grapes – sémillon, muscatel, and sauvignon blanc. It is a bit sweeter than Lillet Blanc, but I would not describe it as “sweet.” You may detect a hint of oakiness, citrus, melon, strawberries, orange blossom, and bright acidity. In summary, it reminds me of a beaujolais nouveau with light oak tannins and citrus. INTERESTING NOTE: Peruvian quinine is added to the blend. Did you know I have a love affair with Peru?
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- Lillet Rosé – The Lillet Rosé is the foundation for this cocktail, so there is no substitute. At around $25.00, it isn’t terribly expensive, and it is great in a variety cocktails. It also holds its own as an aperitif just chilled and poured.
- gin – I like an aromatic London dry style gin for this gin and Lillet cocktail. I’m particularly fond of this small batch artisan gin from Dripping Springs. More common brands like Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire are all great choices.
- prickly pear syrup – On photo day, I used this prickly pear cactus syrup. I’m a label reader, and this one claims to be “all natural,” with cane sugar, organic prickly pear cactus, lemon, and citrus pectin. Please avoid any brands that list high fructose corn syrup. I am working on a recipe for homemade prickly pear syrup which should be posted soon! If you want to try the cocktail, and don’t have prickly pear syrup, try a regular simple syrup. It won’t have the intense color, or the complexity, but it will get you in the “ballpark.”
- angostura bitters – Angostura bitters are the original “aromatic” bitters. They have a spicy flavor with hints of clove and cinnamon. Any aromatic bitters are fine. Orange bitters will do in a pinch.
- garnish – On photo day, I had fresh bay leaves and raspberries, and they made for a really pretty garnish, right? I’m not likely to have them next time. I would suggest a citrus twist or wheel, or a sprig of fresh thyme, mint, or basil. This is an aromatic, off-dry cocktail that pairs well with herbal and citrus flavors.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
My blog posts always have an Instructions section, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary with this shake and strain gin and Lillet cocktail. I think the photos are nice, so we’ll do it anyway!😉
- Prepare any garnishes – My bay leaf and raspberry garnish couldn’t be more simple. Pierce a bay leaf on the under side, pierce the raspberry, then pierce the top side. NOTE: You need pliable, fresh bay leaves for this garnish. See these cocktail garnishes for inspiration. I use a cocktail channel knife to make citrus twists.
- Make the cocktail – Fill a cocktail shaker about 2/3 full of ice. Add the gin, Lillet Rosé, and prickly pear syrup to the shaker. Shake vigorously before straining into martini or coupe glasses. Add several dashes of bitters, then garnish as desired. NOTE: Think of the bitters as salt and pepper for your cocktail. They add depth and complexity, and are an important part of the recipe!
Think of bitters like salt and pepper for a cocktail: a sprinkle of seasoning that balances out the flavors of a dish.
~~ Wine Enthusiast, Everything You Need to Know About Bitters, Including How to Use Them
Bitters are a blend of botanicals and spices that augment the flavor of cocktails (but they’re great in other things too!). They provide depth, complexity, and balance to the flavors. The angostura bitters used in this off-dry gin cocktail beautifully balances the hint of sweetness and citrus, and augments the herbal notes. I keep an array of bitters in my pantry/bar, and I use them in savory dishes, ice cream, salad dressings, etc. A small bottle may be expensive, but a little goes a long way!
💭 Top Tip
After enjoying Lillet for years, I discovered it needs to be refrigerated after opening (unlike spirits).😲Like vermouth, Lillet starts to degrade as soon as it’s opened. That being said, it will taste fine, but the wine will oxidize over time. Some people like that flavor. Taste it before using (not a hardship!), but it should keep for a month or so.
As a blogger than practices a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, it is important to me that I remind my readers that “all things in moderation” is my motto. I don’t eat much sugar, focus on whole foods, whole grains, healthy proteins, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. However, we do enjoy cocktails and desserts in moderation. I highly recommend it!
Gin and Lillet Rosé Cocktail
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- 2.5 ounces gin
- 1.5 ounces Lillet Rosé
- .5 ounce prickly pear syrup
- several dashes angostura bitters
- Add gin, Lillet Rosé, and prickly pear syrup to a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass.
- Add several dashes of angostura bitters. Garnish as desired.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.