Sarah and Dulcie's seasonal recipes don't stop at fork-friendly foods on their Two Tarts blog. In their new column, Locally Mixed, they expand on their interest in scratch-made sippables, and prove that cocktails are just as deserving of fresh, local flavors.
This week, Sarah and Dulcie shake sweet, herbal Lillet with gin, lots of fresh basil, and a squeeze of lemon.
Lillet is a French aperitif -- it tastes a lot like white wine, but with notes of sweet and bitter orange, apple, and honey. So far this summer, we've been enjoying it shaken with gin to balance the sweetness and make it into a true cocktail, with lots of torn basil leaves and a final spritz of sour lemon. Traditionally, Lillet is served over ice with a twist of orange to bring out those sweet and bitter orange flavors, so give that a try, too, but we love this herbal cocktail even more!
This cocktail started with Lillet. A French aperitif created in the late 19th century, it is a blend of 85% white Bordeaux wine and 15% fruit liqueur. This aperitif originally contained quinine, the bitter component of tonic water. Early Lillet literature spouted gems like, "...a potent tonic. It can be consumed, for their utmost benefit, by those with a fragile constitution whatever their age."
Next came the James Bond influence. In the 1952 Casino Royale novel, James Bond famously invented his version of a martini, called The Vesper. Three parts Gordon's gin, one part vodka, and half a measure of Lillet, shaken not stirred, and served in a champagne flute. That drink should be #2 on your agenda after sampling this delicious and refreshing cocktail.
In 1997, after 110 years in business, Lillet changed its original recipe to reduce the bitterness and, as a result, enjoyed a surge in popularity almost immediately.
Lillet is a lot like an enriched white wine, with flavors of candied orange, honey, and apple coming through strongly. We like tempering that sweetness with a measure of strong, herbal gin. Shaking the two alcohols with fresh aromatic basil adds a welcome layer of complexity, while the final spritz of lemon brings brightness and balance.
Lillet Basil Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail
1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
1 ounce gin
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup ice
Juice of 1/4 lemon
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
Like this post? See Sarah and Dulcie's previous topic: Watermelon Jalapeño Margaritas.
All photos by Sarah Welle and Dulcie Wilcox.
Sarah and Dulcie run the blog Two Tarts, which specializes in delicious recipes and cocktails using local and seasonal ingredients.