A word about my approach

Confession: For many years I made one drink, a gin & tonic. I would also pour wine or beer. Many cocktail recipes just seemed complicated or made me feel overwhelmed. I don’t want that for you, dear reader. I just want you to enjoy a delicious cocktail. Maybe you’re an old hand, in which case there might be a little more detail on techniques and alternatives that you, strictly speaking, need – but it won’t hurt you. Digression over.

Ingredients

  • Lillet Blanc, three parts – a ‘single’ drink, AKA for just you: 3 oz.
  • Gin [we prefer Hendricks for this drink], one part – yep, 1 oz
  • Orange bitters [ours: Angostura Orange], two dashes – that means two vigorous shakes
  • Lemon
  • Ice, for stirring

Equipment

  • Liquid measuring cup with clear markings for 1oz through 4oz, my experience is that your garden variety measuring cups are not helpful here [anything along these lines works well]
    • OR a tablespoon
  • A small glass pitcher to mix the ingredients and ice, preferably with strainer [ours, which has proved itself and looks stylish 💃]
    • OR any vessel, preferably glass, tall and wide enough to accommodate volume, and something you can pour through and strain with; and
  • A bar spoon [example]
    • OR any humble spoon you may have
  • Channel knife [example, you can find them slightly cheaper too]
    • OR peeler
  • Glass for the cocktail
    • Extra points for
      • coupes, as shown above
      • CHILLED glass, accomplished by putting said glass in freezer for at least an hour (until forever, no upper bound except your freezer space) before you use it

Technique

You’re going to be amazed, I promise, this is very straightforward. First, optionally, chill your glass. You’ll be glad you did. Collect all the things listed above.

Put some ice in the pitcher, not more than half full. Measure in your Lillet, then your gin, then the two dashes of bitters (Be vigorous! Have style!). Stir them around and around together with the ice until the pitcher starts to feel a bit cold to the touch, usually a couple minutes, it feels VERY LONG when you are doing it, in my opinion.

Strain drink into glass. Using channel knife, or plain peeler, swipe a bit of the lemon peel, hold it over the glass, and give it a curli-que shape. It will sort of lightly spritz the lemon essence into the drink. Drop (or place, for you precision people) the peel into the drink.

Enjoy!

What I like about this drink

Well, as mentioned before, this feels to me to be at the approximate level of difficulty of a gin & tonic but it has a fun, retro feel to it. Also because it is served up (that means without ice) I like to think it’s got an air of sophistication.

Lillet comes in three types: blanc, rose, rouge. They’re all fortified wines, so now I’ve defined them, but the important things to know are they are excellent for aperitifs, and they also can bat in the major leagues in drinks like this. In this drink, to my palate, the Lillet just sort of smooths out all the edges and gives it a lightness. (It has the same effect in the Vesper, which is the original James Bond martini.)

You could use any gin in this drink, but Hendricks works well as it’s not a juniper-heavy gin – it’s got a gentler approach to botanicals. (Side note: If you hate gin, I’m betting the juniper is a big part of what you hate.) It is also not a sweet gin. It’s excellent in a gin and tonic garnished with cucumber – get those little English ones without the giant seeds.

The touch of citrus provided by the bitters and lemon peel just makes the whole thing feel fresh.

Enough already, make yourself one and tell me what you think!

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