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lillet rouge and the manhattan

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?

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: sourcandy

        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

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

          1. re: sourcandy

            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

              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

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

          2. re: marais

            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

              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

              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

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

          3. Personally, I really enjoy Punt e Mes in my Manhattans

            1 Reply
            1. re: Icantread

              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. 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. how does dubbonet factor into all of this?

                3 Replies
                1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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. 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. 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

                          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

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

                          2. 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

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

                              1. re: isadorasmama

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