© Carey Jones

It’s well-established that summer means rosé. But the warm weather is also ideal for an aperitif — a super refreshing, low-proof drink before dinner — and Lillet Rose is our new summer favorite. 

Like Lillet Blanc, which you may be more familiar with, Lillet Rose is a wine-based aperitif, made from the Grand Cru Bordeaux grapes used for Lillet’s white and red versions, and then combined with fruit liqueurs. As a result it’s bright and fruit-forward but not overly sweet — a pleasure to sip on its own, or in these three summer drinks. 

Easy: Lillet Rose & Bubbles

Why wouldn’t you pair grape-based Lillet Rose with Champagne? This cocktail takes two seconds and is guaranteed to impress at your next brunch or afternoon garden party. 

Instructions: In a coupe, combine 1 1/2 ounces of Lillet Rose and 3 ounces of Champagne. Give a quick stir and garnish with a lemon peel, twisting over the surface of the glass to spray its citrus oils; then discard that peel and garnish with an orange half-moon.

Intermediate: Lillet Rose & Repo

Since Lillet Rose is so low-proof (it only comes in at 34 proof) and tends to play well with almost any cocktail ingredient, it’s a great way to tame robust flavors. Here, we start with the excellent Fortaleza Reposado tequila and stir it together with an equal amount of the aperitif, for a pleasant and summer-friendly sipping cocktail — the sophisticated tequila shines through but is considerably more mellow than if you sipped it straight. 

Instructions:  In a mixing glass with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of reposado tequila and 1 1/2 ounces of Lillet Rose, plus a 1/4 ounce of agave syrup and a dash of orange bitters. Stir all that up until well-chilled and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with two expressed orange peels.

Advanced: Lillet Gin Sour

Who doesn’t like gin and lemon in the summer? Add Lillet Rose and you’ve got an excellent cocktail. The egg white here is for texture rather than taste — don’t worry, it doesn’t taste eggy at all — giving it a silky, luxurious feel and a pretty striking look, too.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 1 1/2 ounces of Lillet Rose, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup, and a dash of orange bitters. Shake hard, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a single brandied cherry.

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