Lillet

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A bottle of Lillet

Lillet (French pronunciation: [li'le]) classed as an aromatised wine within EU law, is a French aperitif wine from Podensac, a small village south of Bordeaux. It is a blend of 85% Bordeaux region wines (Semillon for the Blanc and for the Rosé, Merlot for the Rouge) and 15% macerated liqueurs, mostly citrus liqueurs (peels of sweet oranges from Spain and Morocco and peels of bitter green oranges from Haiti). The mix is then stirred in oak vats until blended. During the ageing process, Lillet is handled as a Bordeaux wine (undergoing fining, racking, filtering etc.).

In the original Kina Lillet formulation (so named with respect to its status as a quinquina), quinine liqueur made of cinchona bark from Peru was included among its ingredients. Its manufacturers removed the quinine-containing cinchona bark from their recipe in 1985, drastically altering what was the core bitter element in an effort to keep pace with changing preferences. Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif wine, is the closest present-day analog to the original Kina Lillet flavor profile.


History[edit]

In 1872, the brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet, distillers and merchants of wines and spirits, founded their company La Maison Lillet in Podensac, south of Bordeaux, France. The idea of making aperitifs in Bordeaux came from Father Kermann, a doctor who left Brazil at the beginning of Louis XVI's reign. Back in France, he settled in Bordeaux, where he produced liqueurs and fortifiers from plants such as quinine. During that time, Bordeaux became one of the most important places for the European wine business.[1] It was also France's main harbour for products imported from the Caribbean Islands.

At the end of 19th century, people developed a great fear of illness as a consequence of the discoveries made by Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Nevertheless, "Wine", Pasteur said, "can be considered with good reason as the most healthful and the most hygienic of all beverages". As a result, tonic wines (with quinine) became very popular as quinine was used to fight fevers and ease malaria symptoms.

In 1887, Pierre and Raymond Lillet created Kina Lillet. Originally Blanc, when all other aperitifs were red, Lillet was the only aperitif from a specific geographic location, one of the most famous, the Bordeaux region, or more precisely Great Sauternes region (at that time Sauternes was covering appellations that are now considered as Bordeaux or Graves's appellation).

During the 1920s, Lillet exports greatly increased in Europe and Africa.[2] The brand became famous in France, especially thanks to advertising campaigns.[3] Lillet was served on transatlantic liners, part of the reason for its success with the high society in New York. In New York Lillet was used to make cocktails.

In 1962, Pierre Lillet, grandson of Raymond, keen to capitalize on America’s growing taste for red wine, created Lillet Rouge for the American market.

Kina Lillet was reformulated in 1986[4] and rebranded as Lillet Blanc, a "fresher, fruitier, and less bitter" concoction.[5] Cocchi Americano is generally considered to be the nearest contemporary drink to the original recipe Kina Lillet and is often used as a substitute for it in cocktails.[6][7][8]

Advertising and arts[edit]

  • 1896: First Lillet advertising iron plates[9]
  • 1903: First Lillet illustrated poster created by Raymond Lillet[10]
  • 1930s Harry Craddock appeared in Lillet ads in a UK trade magazine.[11]
  • 1906: Second Lillet illustrated poster designed by Georges Dola[12][13]
  • 1909: Lillet Launch on Transatlantique liners, with the claim: Kina-Lilet & Sauternes Lilet can be obtained on all steamers of the Cie Transatlantique. It should always be served iced[14]
  • 1924 - 1935: Campaigns on Railways « Kina-Lilet, 11 Grand Prizes », campaigns in bus, and campaigns in tramways « Ask for a Lillet »[15]
  • 1925-1935: Advertising campaigns promoting football, basketball and rugby games by André Galland[16]
  • 1930: Mural ads along streets[17]
  • 1937: French artist Robert Wolf’s design brings Lillet to a wider audience[18]
  • 1940-1951: Alcoholic ads are banned during and after the 2nd WW.[19]
  • 1950: First kiosque, allowing Lillet participation to trade exhibition in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes, Quimper and Clermont-Ferrand next year[20]
  • 1951-1959: Apogée of mural ads and display campaigns[21]
  • 1967: Roger Seguin designed an advertising poster for Lillet (blue background)[22]
  • 2008: Posters designed by Stina Persson[23][24]
  • 2012: Sara Singh illustrations for Lillet
  • 2014: Lillet Paris rooftop scene photography by Pauline Daniel
  • 2014: Fashion & lifestyle blogger Garance Doré designed a silk scarf for Lillet

Serving Lillet[edit]

Lillet is an aperitif wine (a blend of Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueur). It should be served well chilled at 6–8°C (43–46°F). In France, Lillet is generally served on ice with a slice of orange, or a lemon or lime peel. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland Lillet blanc is more often served as a Lillet Vive, a Lillet blanc long drink. A Lillet Vive is 5cl Lillet blanc, 10cl tonic water, a slice of cucumber, a strawberry and mint leaves.

In other countries, especially in the US and UK, it is more often used as a cocktail ingredient. The best known Lillet cocktails are the Vesper, the Corpse Reviver #2, the 20th Century and the Old Etonian. Recipes appear in cocktail books like The Bartender's Bible by Gary Regan, the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock and the Complete World Bartender Guide by Bob Sennett. In the 1930s the Savoy Cocktail Book edited 22 Lillet cocktails recipes (to compare, 46 Cointreau cocktails recipes were edited, 24 Dubonnet, 24 Chartreuse and 10 Grand Marnier).[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p13-29
  2. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p157-165
  3. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p141-156
  4. ^ http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/02/what-is-cocchi-aperitivo-americano-aperitif-cocktails-drinks.html
  5. ^ http://savoystomp.com/2008/01/31/the-quest-for-kina-lillet/
  6. ^ cocchi americano « liquor is quicker
  7. ^ What's the Deal with Cocchi Aperitivo Americano? | Serious Eats: Drinks
  8. ^ Case Study | Cocchi Americano: Waking the Dead - NYTimes.com
  9. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p71
  10. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p57
  11. ^ Savoy Stomp Kina Lillet
  12. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p57
  13. ^ http://catalogue.drouot.com/ref-drouot/lot-ventes-aux-encheres-drouot.jsp?id=1640285
  14. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p57
  15. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p145-146
  16. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p142
  17. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p144
  18. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p154
  19. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p234
  20. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p243
  21. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p235
  22. ^ Lillet 1862-1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p253
  23. ^ Stina Persson for Lillet* 2011: Visual campaign by Matthieu Forichon
  24. ^ http://www.forichon.com/LILLET-Illustrations-pour-la,269
  25. ^ Lillet 1862–1985 Le pari d'un entreprise girondine, Olivier Londeix, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, p147

External links[edit]