Portland and many other cities are currently experiencing the first wave of faux spring, and it seems to be doing wonders for the collective mood. Personally, the sunshine has a re-awakened my desire for patio pounders—relatively low ABV beverages with bright, fresh flavors that can be guzzled without any truly unfortunate repercussions. And Lillet happens to make a great base for this genre of cocktail.
Lillet, which is crisp, sweet, and refreshing, is a fortified, aromatized wine, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be further fortified with a little vodka and a few dashes of bitters. By combining a fair amount of Lillet Blanc with a smaller amount of vodka, you get a very spring-ish inverted kangaroo situation, except you’re using Lillet instead of vermouth. (Full disclosure: Though I have bought and written about Lillet several times before, this particular bottle that I used to make this drink was sent to me for free.)
If you prefer gin, I understand completely, but give it a spin with vodka first for a cleaner, more Lillet-forward experience. Using vodka instead of gin lets the honey and citrus-flavored aperitif shine, much like the sun you should be drinking it under. This drink is good over crushed ice and it’s good straight up in a super-cold cocktail glass. Try it both ways and see which one you prefer.
To make it, you will need:
2 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce vodka
A few dashes of bitters, either Angostura or orange
Combine vodka and Lillet in a stirring glass filled with ice and stir to chill. Strain over crushed or pellet ice, or serve up in a chilled coupe if you want a silkier, denser beverage. Shake in a few dashes of bitters and enjoy.