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lillet rouge and the manhattan

Soybomb Jul 10, 2009 06:47 PM

Martini purists beware, this posting isn't for you.

I've come to really favor lillet blanc in my martinis. Paired with plymouth gin it might be the best "martini" I've ever had. Natually my mind has turned to lillet rouge and the manhattan. Anyone ever try it? Worth picking up a bottle to make or not?

  1. JMF Jan 20, 2012 10:48 AM

    The past few weeks I have been on a kick having an amaro of some type subbing for the vermouth in a Manhattan. Last night was the best so far when I was at the bar, Mix, at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY. The lead bartender, Jake Sher, made me one using Rittenhouse 100 rye, Ramazzotti amaro, and Dutch's Colonial Cocktail bitters, with a small lemon twist. The balance of all the ingredients led to me having five over the course of the evening and having to get a room at the hotel for the night.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JMF
      isadorasmama Jan 26, 2012 02:56 PM

      Now that sounds like my kind of Manhattan. Same ratio of the Ramazotti as you'd normally do the vermouth?

      1. re: isadorasmama
        JMF Jan 26, 2012 05:00 PM

        I'll have to ask Jake the proportions. When I do I'll post it.

    2. j
      johnbrowneyes Jan 15, 2012 02:58 PM

      Yes I prefer Lillet Blanc in my gin martinis instead of dry vermouth. Never had the Rouge in a Manhattan, though. Today for the first time I tried Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth in a Manhattan. Very nice. Also, I have made this Perfect Manhattan: 3 oz Rye, 1/2 oz Punt e Mas and 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc. Cheers!

      2 Replies
      1. re: johnbrowneyes
        EvergreenDan Jan 17, 2012 04:34 AM

        That sounds good, but I'd call it a Manhattan rather than a Perfect Manhattan. I believe the modifier "Perfect" refers to the leaning out of the sugar by the dry vermouth, rather than the color of the wine. So if you used Fino Sherry, it might be a Perfect Manhattan variation, but if you used Cream Sherry, it would be a Manhattan variation.

        Or at least that is what I would expect if I were ordering such a thing at a bar. YMMV, of course.

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. re: johnbrowneyes
          zin1953 Apr 7, 2012 12:37 PM

          FWIW, I use the Caprano Antica Formula in lieu of (dry) white vermouth with gin . . .

        2. b
          benjaminthom Jan 15, 2012 01:42 PM

          Yes, I did this last night. I have to admit it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, the Lillet Rouge actually overpowered the Bourbon (Maker's Mark) a bit much for me. It was pretty good, though, just different. I have found the Martini & Rossi is just generally sub-par vermouth, it always has an odd burnt robber note at the end of the nose. I think that Noilly Prat is much smoother but it is much harder to find.

          1. g
            glowworm Sep 18, 2009 12:31 PM

            I tried this and didn't like it much. I may give it another try to see if I get accustomed to it but in any event it doesn't taste like a Manhattan. It just tasted...boozy... more than anything. The flavors didn't come together like rye or bourbon does with sweet vermouth and bitters.

            1. cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Sep 3, 2009 11:10 AM

              how does dubbonet factor into all of this?

              3 Replies
              1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles
                marais Sep 4, 2009 11:27 AM

                Dubonnet (to me at least) seems to be the less assertive sibling of Lillet Rouge. Doesn't Queen Elizabeth favor 3 parts gin, 2 parts Dubonnet chilled with lemon twist? I still believe that the OP would be better off using a quality red vermouth (like Punt E Mes or Carpano Antico) for a manhattan.

                1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles
                  yarm Sep 12, 2009 05:33 PM

                  Dubbonet Rouge is the original of the style and Lillet Blanc the same (Kina Lillet back in the day). To compete with the others' market, Dubbonet made a Blanc and Lillet a Rouge. Apparently, they're not as good but I haven't done the experiment myself. I find that Dubbonet Rouge works rather well with gin, and Lillet Blanc works well with almost everything (although lighter spirits moreso than dark).

                  Either way, it's definitely worth a try! Although the ultimate aromatized wine for Manhattans in my book is a Barolo Chinato, although they're pricy and harder to find.


                  1. re: yarm
                    zin1953 Apr 7, 2012 12:36 PM

                    Keep in mind that -- at least here in the US -- Dubonnet is made here, IN THE U.S. Lillet is still made in France . . .

                2. l
                  lady from nj Sep 2, 2009 04:04 PM

                  I think that Lillet Rouge will have the same magic that Lillet Blanc has with martinis. I made a 4:1 martini using LIllet Rouge with Bombay Sapphire Gin. I hate the latter for its take-over qualities in most drinks but here, it's magic. Do not limit your bev enjoyment to the stand-bys. Remember: drink lore was founded upon the premise of trying unsuspecting combinations and turned them into classics. A Votre Sante!

                  1. Icantread Jul 14, 2009 01:47 PM

                    Personally, I really enjoy Punt e Mes in my Manhattans

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Icantread
                      johnbrowneyes Dec 30, 2010 03:20 PM

                      Yes - I make a killer Manhattan using 3 oz Wild Turkey Rye with 1 oz Punt e Mes. (bitters optional, I like orange sometimes) Very good. Just one, though. The rye is 101 proof.

                    2. m
                      marais Jul 14, 2009 12:56 PM

                      Lillet Rouge is interesting on its own chilled as an aperitif, but instead of rye or bourbon I've paired it very successfully with gin, just as I have with Lillet Blanc. I think the herbals in both Lillets would get lost in a manhattan, so you're better off sticking to sweet vermouth.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: marais
                        sourcandy Sep 14, 2009 08:00 AM

                        I've been thinking about trying Lillet Blanc in a modified Negroni... I wonder how that would be.

                        1. re: sourcandy
                          marais Sep 16, 2009 01:39 PM

                          Meaning substituting Lillet Blanc for the rosso? Please do it and let us know the result! Meanwhile I've picked up on the OP's combo of Plymouth Gin and Lillet Blanc, 3:1, with coupla dashes of orange bitters. Me likee =)

                          1. re: marais
                            sourcandy Sep 17, 2009 06:34 AM

                            Yes. I'm going to give it a shot tonight.

                            1. re: sourcandy
                              sourcandy Sep 17, 2009 02:06 PM

                              Sipping on the modified Negroni right now... It could be a regular guest in my house. I used equal parts Rogue Pink Spruce Gin which I find unsuitable for most martini applications but perfect for G&Ts, Campari and Lillet Blanc. I've mixed it on the rocks in a Ball jar (this is our default glassware) and it is lovely. There are a ton of flavors here and a lot of herbalness, but it's just sweet enough without being cloying. I love Negroni's but when made with Sweet Vermouth it can be too sweet. I highly recommend this drink. But what to call it?

                              1. re: sourcandy
                                isadorasmama Jan 26, 2012 02:54 PM

                                I stink at conjuring up names but I'm a Negroni lover (my absolute favorite drink and I was just in Negroni heaven in San Francisco last week at a bar that has DRAUGHT negronis) and I have to say that I'm enjoying mine with a lot less sweet vermouth than I had been doing before (1:1:1). It beefs up the gin and campari and gets rid of the vermouth-y aftertaste, IMO.

                                1. re: isadorasmama
                                  mikepattonisgod Apr 6, 2012 05:52 PM

                                  Draught negronis?? You simply MUST tell me where in S.F. to find such a thing!!!

                            2. re: marais
                              johnbrowneyes Dec 30, 2010 03:16 PM

                              I agree. I find dry vermouth too gamey, I don't like the taste. I use Lillet Blanc instead in gin martinis. I rinse the glass with the Lillet then add the chilled gin. Or stir together with the gin in a cocktail pitcher. And yes a dash orange bitters:)

                              1. re: marais
                                isadorasmama Jan 26, 2012 02:50 PM

                                I'm doing something similar. 2:1 Beefeater and Lillet with several good dashes of Fee Bros. grapefruit bitters. Very yummy, although it's making me pine for summer.

                              2. re: sourcandy
                                JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jan 15, 2012 10:51 PM

                                It works pretty darn fine. I think it's even better done with Aperol in place of the Campari.

                                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                                  isadorasmama Jan 26, 2012 02:51 PM

                                  That's a terrific idea. I might play around with other citrus bitters, too.

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