Lillet is shady

Last week, while I was in the liquor store stocking up on rose -- the "summer drink to be seen with"-- I got caught up in a fit of faux French-ness I also asked for a bottle of Lillet.

Why did I ask for Lillet? Well, I was seduced by Urban Spam.

See, all summer-long, I've been seeing noticing these deep red umbrellas lounging over the best sidewalk cafes in Chelsea and the West Village. While rushing by, I've wished I could stop and just sit under those umbrellas.

Though I worked in advertising, I usually don't like to admit I was directly pushed into buying something by an ad. I like to think I'm immune to the powers of the ad.

But the umbrella ad definitely inspired this Lillet purchase. There was no word-of-mouth from a knowing bar tender or life-changing trip to France that made me try Lillet. There is only the umbrella ad.

Now I probably wouldn't order Lil-it or Lee-lay or Lil-let in a cafe since I didn't know how to pronounce it or how to order it. Was it a wine, a cocktail, served on the rocks or in soda? I wasn't sure.

After a little Googling, I learned that Very Cold is the way to serve Lillet. Some like it straight, some mix it with soda, many like it with an orange slice garnish. After chilling my Lillet for a few days in the fridge, I tried it straight and then tried it mixed in soda.

Though he's a white wine fan, R* said he didn't like it either way. Though I didn't tell R* at the time, I didn't like it that much either. The taste seemed to manufactured or composed. But yes, the bottle was pretty and the fruity herbal flavor seemed like it had potential if I could figure out what to do with it. I was poaching salmon that night and didn't have any white wine to flavor the poaching water, so I tentatively put a few glugs of Lillet into the mix. I didn't notice much difference in the fish, maybe that's becasue salmon has such a strong flavor of its own. The Lillet site is all in Flash, but there are some recipes and commentary there that are a helpful reference.

That night I dumped the rest of my Lillet and soda down the sink, poured myself a rose and told myself I'd get back to the Lillet another day.

I'm liking Lillet again today because I just noticed this post in praise of Lillet on Domino magazines new surprisingly down-to-earth blog.


Anonymous ann said...

oooh, i love lillet!
but i love bitters and Pimms and red vermouth and campari and all those sort of oddly flavored fortified wine/booze thingies
i like mine with seltzer and a healthy splash of citrus juice
never thought about cooking with it before, i bet its wonderful!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ann, we think alike! Check out the post I did today about the negroni. I'm wondering if you've ever had one?

1:42 PM  
Anonymous ann said...

i have, and i LOVED it!

9:36 AM  
Blogger Lynda said...

Just discovered your blog, Chris, through the Julia Child thing - love it!

One suggestion with Lillet (pronounced "lil-ay" by the way) - try it in place of vermouth in cocktails. I am ashamed to admit that I have never tried it on its own, but Lillet Blanc is great in Martinis or Vespers, and we use both Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge when making Manhattans (recipes on my blog).

5:26 PM  

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