Lillet Blanc is a type of French white wine that has been infused with fruits and herbs. So, on top of having a mouth-watering taste, it is aromatic as well. It was first created in 1887, called Kina Lillet, and quinine was used as a flavoring agent.
In 1986, Lillet Blanc replaced its former name and the quinine content was lowered. Lillet Blanc is not the only aromatized wine, Lillet is actually a family of them. In addition to Lillet Blanc, there’s Lillet Rosé and Lillet Rouge.
Originally, it was created as an aperitif, or a drink to serve at restaurants to help revive one’s appetite. But in more recent times, it has become popular to drink as you would any other wine.
12 Recommended Lillet Blanc Substitutes
If there isn’t any Lillet Blanc available to you, there are plenty of replacements that mimic its taste and aroma. Some of the best Lillet Blanc replacements are: St. Germain, Cocchi Americano, Kina L’Avion d’Or, Sweet White Vermouth, Amaro Angeleno, Swedish Punsch, Reserve Jean de Lillet, and more.
What Is Lillet Blanc Made Of?
Lillet Blanc is a mixture of fruit macerations, wines, and herbs that are put in oak barrels after blending the ingredients together so they can age. This blend consists of roughly 85% of wines from the Bordeaux region and 15% macerated wines.
Its original recipe that had quinine in it was discontinued in 1985 simply because of demand changes. Lillet Blanc has a 17% ABV (alcohol by volume) making it slightly stronger than other wines but not as strong as spirits.
What Does Lillet Blanc Taste Like?
The taste of Lillet Blanc is sweet and crisp. The notes of herbs and citrus are subtle, but noticeable and stay on your tongue. Its scent is delectable and reminiscent of honey. These elements make Lillet Blanc perfect and craveable for cocktails.
What is a Good Substitute for Lillet Blanc?
Though Lillet Blanc is available at many liquor stores and supermarkets, maybe you’re looking to try something different. There are many substitutes for Lillet Blanc that are similar, or even close to identical, to the original wine.
1. St. Germain
St. Germain, like Lillet Blanc, hails from France. This liqueur is made of extracted elderflowers, which are native to the French Alps. The extracted flowers are macerated and blended with sugars, then distilled. This creates an aromatic and floral-tasting beverage.
Though it can be used as an aperitif, St. Germain is most popular for being a cocktail ingredient. If you don’t like the bitter aspect that comes with many alcoholic beverages, St. Germain is a good option for you. It is much sweeter than Lillet Blanc, but still resemblant of it.
Its taste is not as fruity as Lillet Blanc, since St. Germain is derived from flowers. When replacing Lillet Blanc for St. Germain in recipes, try using a smaller portion to even out the sweetness.
2. Cocchi Americano
Cocchi Americano is an aperitif with Italian origins. It is made up of a mixture of Italian Moscato, orange peel, quinine liqueur, and various spices. Cocchi Americano contains many of the same ingredients that Lillet Blanc does, and as a result, it has a similar flavor profile.
Because of the moscato, Cocchi Americano is more bitter than Lillet Blanc. When substituting it in cocktails, it’s a good idea to use more of it than you would of Lillet. It can also be drunk plainly but you may not enjoy it if you don’t like the bitterness of Lillet Blanc.
It can be found online or at many liquor stores, and its price is similar, if not cheaper, than that of Lillet Blanc.
3. Kina L’Avion d’Or
Kina L’Avion d’Or is French for “golden airplane bitter.” It is another French aperitif, but it is more similar to the original Lillet Kina, as it contains a considerable amount of quinine liqueur. Like many other aperitifs on this list, it also has white wine and orange peel in its ingredients.
This aperitif is somewhat more bitter than Lillet Blanc, but it also has notes of sweetness because it contains marmalade. It is about twice the price of Lillet Blanc, but bares the most striking resemblance to it.
4. Sweet White Vermouth
Sweet White Vermouth is like the Lillet Blanc of Italy. It is also known for having unaged alcohol. A wide variety of Vermouth is available, with variations ranging across the spectrum from dry to sweet. A sweet variety of Vermouth is much sweeter than Lillet Blanc.
Drinking sweet Vermouth is perfect for being drunk straight as it is not as bitter. But in cocktails when the intention is to emulate Lillet Blanc, using a smaller portion and adding some bitters is recommended.
5. Amaro Angeleno
Amaro Angeleno originated in Los Angeles, CA, and is made up of a mixture of Pinot Grigio, unaged brandy, and various herbal infusions. It can be drunk as an aperitif, or on its own, but was meant to help with digestion.
It has the same subtle fruitiness and bitterness that Lillet Blanc has. However, it is produced on a much smaller scale and therefore may be more difficult to find, and more expensive.
6. Swedish Punsch
In Sweden and Finland, the liqueur “punsch” is immensely popular. It is nothing like the punch most of us are familiar with, and is made with a combination of spirits and water, tea, and sugar. There are various flavors of Punsch available depending on the brand, and the tastes vary in complexity.
7. Reserve Jean De Lillet
Like Lillet Blanc, this is also a French aperitif. It is rather difficult to find, as it is a limited release product. It has a pretty bitter taste, and is aged in a similar way to Lillet Blanc as well. It’s aged with orange peels in French Oak barrels.
8. Salers Aperitif
Salers Aperitif is another French aperitif, but it is one of the oldest. It was first made in 1885 by macerating spirits with roots of a wild butter herb, Gentiana Lutea. Its taste has notes of lemon and citrus, and it has a higher alcohol content than many other liqueurs.
9. Angostura Orange Bitters
For a very simple alternative to Lillet Blanc, try adding some orange bitters to your cocktail. It will replicate the bitterness and slight citrus of Lillet Blanc.
Dubonnet is a combination of wine and various spices and herbs. It can be served alone or in a mixed drink, and is very similar to Lillet Blanc. It tends to be on the sweeter side, making drinks that much more enjoyable. The American version of Dubonnet has a 19% ABV, while the French version is around 15%.
11. Dry Sherry
Dry Sherry is a type of fermented wine. It has the same unmistakable crispness that Lillet Blanc has. Its nuttiness and hints of citrus make it a great Lillet Blanc substitute for both cooking and drinking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lillet Blanc still made?
Lillet Blanc is currently still made, and there are three different varieties available. Its original recipe has been changed and it no longer contains quinine. But, the drink is still widely available with the minor adjustment to its recipe.
How many varieties of Lillet are there?
Although Lillet Blanc is the most well-known Lillet, there are three varieties of the aperitif. These three varieties are Rouge, Rosé, and the famous Blanc.
Is Lillet wine or liquor?
The category that Lillet falls into is very specific. It is an aromatic aperitif that is based in wine. Its ABV is slightly higher than most wines, but much lower than most spirits. So, in terms of classification, it fits into the definition of wine better than it does liquor.
Can I use Lillet Blanc for cooking?
Many cooking recipes may call for some white or red wine. Lillet Blanc can certainly be used in this situation as well. Any variety of Lillet can be used for things like pastries and desserts. Lillet Blanc is known to be great for caramelizing vegetables, specifically onions. The notes of infused orange add a unique taste.
Can you drink Lillet Blanc straight?
The French often enjoy casually drinking Lillet Blanc on its own. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to have a glass of it with dinner, as you would with any wine. It may even be a good idea to have with a meal, as it is an aperitif.
Lillet Blanc is a popular French aperitif that is now available in many bars as a cocktail ingredient. It is very aromatic and contains a slightly higher alcohol percentage than most other wines. If you can’t seem to get your hands on your own Lillet Blanc, there are many replacements that suffice.