Mix It Up

7 Lillet Rouge Cocktails

Lillet Rouge may be the middle child of the Lillet family but don’t let that stop you from mixing its fruit-forward flavour to your next cocktail

By: Tiff Christie|February 9,2020

As anyone who is one knows, there is nothing worse than being the middle child. In 1964, Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler developed a theory on the importance of birth order on personality development.

According to Adler –

  • The oldest child is more authoritarian and feels all-powerful due to the high expectations often set by the parents.
  • The youngest child is treated like a spoiled baby and can never rise above the other siblings.
  • The middle child is even-tempered but has trouble fitting in due to being sandwiched between the younger and older siblings

Now you might be wondering what birth order could possibly have to do with Lillet Rouge but if you think about it, Lillet Rouge is nothing if not suffering from middle child syndrome. 


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Developed in 1962 by Pierre Lillet as a ruby-hued attempt to double down on the success of its predecessor, Lillet Blanc, which had become famous in the 20th century thanks to a number of celebrity endorsements (among them, those from the Duchess of Windsor and Ian Fleming, whose James Bond famously enjoyed it shaken into a. Vesper) 

A lightly spiced, bitter aperitif wine, Lillet Rouge is often overlooked within the Lillet family, passed over in favour of its brighter, paler-hued siblings. 

And the problem is not just Lillet Blanc. Lillet Rouge also has a younger sister, Lillet Rosé. While Rose may be 50 years younger than Rouge, she burst into the scene in 2012 just as the Rosé trend was hitting wine glasses across the country. 

So, yeah, somewhere in the middle, Rouge has just had a bit of trouble fitting in. But Rouge, with its fruit-forward flavour and full-bodied texture, that can be an asset in both shaken and stirred drinks, or simply enjoyed on its own.

 Made from a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes, Lillet Rouge is fortified with lemon and orange brandies and quinine, the latter of which acts as a bittering agent. 

Although first used on its own over ice, Rouge is these days more a cocktail ingredient, that is  when she is remembered at all. But a new generation of bartenders are choosing to take a Rouge off the back bar and giving her a bit of a spin (or should we say a fair shake). 

It’s the bouquet of Rouge that often gets people hooked. With notes of freshly picked grapes, black cherries, black raspberries, apricots and pepper, this is one aperitif that makes its presence felt. 

In the mouth, it behaves like a rich, chewy red wine from the sun-drenched south of France. It has a short finish that’s mildly fruity and ripe. 

So next time you are after a cocktail with a little richness, both in taste and colour, don’t forget about Lillet Rouge because what Adler doesn’t tell you is that when given a chance, the middle child can often turn out to be quite extraordinary. 

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7 Lillet Rouge Cocktails

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