Revived Corpse

Our Sommelier was taking certification courses regarding Spirits & Cocktails.

She’d been attempting to get her head around Spirits and trying various things to be able to identify them blind.

I was chatting with her about it, and she said she would like me to make her a Corpse Reviver No 2, as she had just read about the drink.

As we were chatting, I discovered that her courseware suggested that Cocchi Americano be used in the drink.

I was, like, “Really!? The actual Sommelier course material suggests using Cocchi Americano in the Corpse Reviver No 2 instead of Lillet Blanc?”

She said that was so. “What’s the big deal?” little knowing she was talking to the person who started the whole Cocchi Americano vs. Lillet Blanc mess oh so long ago.

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Life’s little victories.

Turned out the Corpse Reviver No 2 with Cocchi Americano I made was new favorite drink, she even insisted I teach her to make them. Though perhaps she should have heeded The Savoy Cocktail Book’s warning, “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Harry Craddock: Lillet Brand Ambassador

Perhaps this exchange will amuse you as much as it did me…

Jared,

It seems like you have some insight into Harry Craddock’s recipe books.

First, do you know, as we have inferred, if the Corpse Reviver No 2 is
one of his original cocktails?

Second, do you know if the recipe dates from his time in NY or if it
shows up after his move to the UK?

Lastly, can you think of any instances of Kina Lillet/Lillet showing
up in American cocktail books before prohibition?

Some questions we all have regarding Lillet!

All the best,

Erik Ellestad

Three great questions. I’ll take a look through the files and get back to you.

Cheers,
Jared

Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller
Mixellany Limited

Thanks Jared!

I took a look through Hugo Ensslin this AM and found no Kina Lillet/Lillet.

Plenty of Dubonnet and other more esoteric ingredients & liqueurs, but no Kina Lillet.

Also, interestingly, though I have identified sources for many of the recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Book, (Ensslin, Thomas, McElhone, Judge Jr, etc.) up to now, none of the Savoy Cocktail Book Kina Lillet/Lillet recipes have yet been identified as coming from any other source.

Hmmm, I guess Craddock was not just the world’s largest Hercules and Caperitif fan at the time, but maybe the world’s first Lillet Brand Ambassador.

;-)

Erik E.

Truer than you realize. Craddock appeared in 1930s ads for Lillet in a UK trade magazine.

Cheers,
Jared

Then, as now, it seems, finding brand name ingredients in a cocktail book recipe is generally more of an indication of an advertising or sponsorship deal with the author or publisher, than anything else.

Previous Lillet Posts:

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

Kina Quest 3: Compare and Contrast

Kina Quest IV: Enuff Iz Enuff

Kina Lillet Clone

Kina Lillet, 2012

Lillet Vermouth

Lillet Vermouth

In the previous Lillet Post, Kina Lillet, 2012, we talked a bit about David Embury.

His two quotes which contributed to the discussion were as follows:

“My own favorite French vermouth today is Lillet (pronounced lee’lay) made by Lillet Freres of Podensac, France. Do not confuse it with the Lillet aperitif made by the same company and originally sold under the name of Kina Lillet.”

“In commenting on Lillet vermouth, I warned not to confuse this brand of vermouth with the aperitif wine, originally known as Kina Lillet but now called simply Lillet. If, by accident, you get a bottle of the wine instead of the vermouth, what do you do with it? Well, here are a few of the old-time recipes using Kina Lillet. I definitely do not recommend any of them.”

It now appears that the Lillet company DID produce a vermouth during the middle part of the 20th Century.

Frogprincesse, again, in the eGullet.org forums:

Page 207 it explains that, at some point after 1945, there was indeed another type of Lillet, “Lillet dry type canadien” at 18°. The bottle had a green label similar to Martini extra dry. It was an aperitif based on French vermouths such as Noilly Prat. So clearly David Embury was referring to this French vermouth-style Lillet in the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948).

So, what does that mean?

Well, first, and most practical, if there are any recipes where Embury calls for Lillet other than in those “old-time recipes”, you should instead use Noilly Prat vermouth.

On the other hand, it means those comments from Embury are of no consequence regarding any inferences about the nature of Kina Lillet, Lillet Blanc, or Lillet in the US before prohibition, the UK during prohibition, or the US after prohibition.

However, the main question remains:

What version of Lillet would have been available in America before prohibition and in England during prohibition? And, ultimately, does the current product reflect the Lillet that might have been available at either of those times?

Previous Lillet Posts:

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

Kina Quest 3: Compare and Contrast

Kina Quest IV: Enuff Iz Enuff

Kina Lillet Clone

Kina Lillet, 2012

Kina Lillet, 2012

Lillet Americano Comparison

Over the last few years, much ado has been made about whether the modern version of Lillet Blanc is the same as the product that used to be called Lillet or Kina Lillet.

I, in particular, have rubbed some people the wrong way by suggesting that old cocktails which call for “Kina Lillet” are more interesting when made with Cocchi Americano. I went so far as to attempt to make my own version of “Kina Lillet” during the brief Cocchi Americano drought of a few years ago.

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

Kina Quest 3: Compare and Contrast

Kina Quest IV: Enuff Iz Enuff

Kina Lillet Clone

Collecting some recent conversations regarding Lillet…

The current Lillet company line is that Lillet has only ever produced a product more or less exactly like the current version of Lillet Blanc, whether it is called Lillet, Kina Lillet, or Lillet Blanc. However that contradicts much of what has been written about Lillet in the past.

For example, the Lillet website used to contain a timeline which goes as follows:

1872 Company founded
1887 Lillet formula created
1895 Lillet launched in Bordeaux
1895 In the US and West Indies “Lillet Export Double Quinine” marketed
as a tonic wine
1909 Two products available in Europe, Kina Lillet and Sauternes Lillet
1920 “Lillet Dry” created and introduced in England, “to suit English
tastes, especially when mixed with gin.”
1962 Lillet Rouge created
1985-86 Lillet modernized its manufacturing facilities and Lillet
Blanc reformulated, “…fresher, fruitier, less syrupy, less
bitter…”

In addition, the New Bordeaux website has a detailed, and seemingly well informed
history regarding the product.

Lillet: the classic Bordelais aperitif

Some quotes:

“The drink was invented by two brothers, Paul and Raymond Lillet, who were distillers producing a range of fruit eaux-de-vies. In the 19th century, Bordeaux was the most important port city in France, and fruits and spices were coming in from all over the world, giving them access to a range of exotic fruits and spices to distill and turn into liqueurs. Five years after setting up the distillery, they came up with the recipe for an aperitif made from the plentiful local wines, mixed with the very fashionable quinine (tonic water had been granted an English patent in 1858, and quinine continued to be seen as a healthful tonic, and pretty much the only treatment against malaria and other fevers, until after World War II), plus a range of fruit liqueurs. As the 20th century got underway, they stopped making the other eaux-de-vie and concentrated just on Lillet Blanc.”

“In 1985, Bruno Borie, owner of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, bought the
business from the Lillet family (some of whom still remained working
in the company. Pierre Lillet, the 93 year old grandson of the
original owner, and previous cellar master himself, still comes by the
offices every day to see how things are going, while other members of
the family have long been among Bordeaux’s most important courtiers,
or wine brokers).

“The first thing Borie did was relook at the recipe of Lillet Blanc
and make it fruitier, lighter, less sugary but also less bitter, as he
reduced the levels of quinine – to achieve the balance of sweetness
and sourness that it has today. A Reserve Jean de Lillet Blanc was
also created, that more closely resembles the original recipe, tasting
somewhere between a Sauternes and today’s Lillet aperitif. With the
new recipe, he relaunched the drink. At the time, sales were 24,000 in
France, but when he sold it in 2008 (to the Ricard family of
Pernod-Ricard), sales had reached 400,000 in France, with another
400,000 overseas. When it featured in 2006 film version of Casino
Royale, where Daniel Craig asking for a martini with Kina Lillet,
sales particularly in the US shot up by 20%.”

One of the keenest points that the Lillet company and their promoters are currently making is that the product now known as Lillet Blanc did not change in the 1980s. Borie did modernize the production facilities for Lillet, but the character of Lillet Blanc did not change at that time. All he did was re-market the product with catch phrases that would appeal to a younger demographic interested in beverages that were “fruitier, lighter, and less bitter”.

However, Lillet in the 1980s isn’t of particular interest to me. I’m more interested in what Lillet might have been like in America before prohibition and in the UK and Europe during prohibition. That’s when most of the drinks I have any interest in were created.

No one less than David Embury states in his 1948 “Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”, “My own favorite French vermouth today is Lillet (pronounced lee’lay) made by Lillet Freres of Podensac, France. Do not confuse it with the Lillet aperitif made by the same company and originally sold under the name of Kina Lillet.”

Embury, goes on later to say, “In commenting on Lillet vermouth, I warned not to confuse this brand of vermouth with the aperitif wine, originally known as Kina Lillet but now called simply Lillet. If, by accident, you get a bottle of the wine instead of the vermouth, what do you do with it? Well, here are a few of the old-time recipes using Kina Lillet. I definitely do not recommend any of them.”

It seems clear that there were definitely two white Lillet products available in the US when Embury was writing in 1948. I guess the only question is, “which do we have now?” Embury’s favored “Lillet Vermouth”? His despised “Lillet/Kina Lillet”? Or something else?

Along those lines, I remembered there was a quote from Kinsley Amis on the subject of Vesper. Something like, Ian Fleming must have made a mistake in specifying Kina Lillet for the drink. David, from Summer Fruit Cup, was kind enough to track it down for me. It’s from Amis’ “The Book of Bond”.

“The original recipe calls for Kina Lillet in place of Lillet Vermouth. The former is flavored with quinine and would be very nasty in a Martini. Our founder slipped up here. If Lillet Vermouth isn’t available, specify Martini and Rossi dry. Noilly Prat is good for many purposes, but not for Martinis.”

Finally, a friend of mine on the eGullet forums, FrogPrincesse, has turned up a book, in French, solely devoted to the history of the Lillet brand.

Some of her comments regarding the book, “Lillet, 1862-1985: Le pari d’une entreprise girondine by Olivier Londeix”

Lillet Topic on eGullet

“It looks like there is an entire book devoted to Lillet that covers
the 1862-1985 timeframe (in French). According to the book,
Kina-Lillet was originally created under the name “Amer-Kina”. The
book describes how the formula was adapted to the taste of the public
in the early 1900s (“originally it was more bitter, but ladies would
not drink it”), with an adjustment to its quinine content and
resulting bitterness. It later mentions that two different formulas
were available at some point, the “dry export” (English formula) and
an “extra-dry” version that is more recent. Somewhere else it
mentions that both the original formula (aperitif classique) and the
English formula (Lillet goût anglais) were both served at the Cafe de
la Paix in Paris in 1938 depending on the clientele.”

“English-style Lillet (“goût anglais”) marketed in England differs
from the product consumed in France. « In France we need the kina to
have a little more substance and to be a little sweeter in order to
withstand the mixtures that consumers unfortunately require to consume
our product, because it is quite obvious that a gourmet would never
blend our Kina with anything; in England we are told that our Kina is
drunk with gin as a cocktail. »”

These passages present us with another problem. If Lillet was sending a different style of Lillet to England in the 1920s and 1930s and Harry Craddock was bartending at the Savoy in London at the same time, maybe the “English-style Lillet” is the one we should be making the Corpse Reviver (No 2) with!

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter all that much to me whether Modern Lillet Blanc is the same as Kina Lillet from the early part of the 20th Century or the Lillet sold in England in the 1930s. I mean, modern Lillet Blanc is a perfectly fine product and works well in some drinks. However, I happen to prefer Cocchi Americano or Tempus Fugit‘s Kina l’Avion d’Or when having an aperitif or mixing certain classic cocktails. That’s just my personal preference.

Bonus Cocktail Recipe involving neither Kina Lillet nor Cocchi Americano!

Ostensibly, the second most famous cocktail calling for Kina Lillet is Harry Craddock’s Corpse Reviver (No 2). Usually composed of equal parts Gin, Cointreau, Lemon, and “Kina Lillet” with a dash or two of Absinthe, it is a delightful and refreshing cocktail.

The other night, a couple friends were hanging out near my coworker Trevor Easter’s station. He started by making them Bronx variations, but somehow ended up making different variations on the Corpse Reviver (No 2), swapping in different elements for the “Kina Lillet”.

One of the variations caught their fancy enough that they coined a name for it.

Creeping Death.

3/4 oz London Dry Gin;
3/4 oz Cointreau;
3/4 oz Cynar;
3/4 oz Lemon Juice;
1 dash Absinthe.

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Imagine that, a cocktail with Cynar, and I didn’t even come up with it!

Buck’s Fizz

As usual, I got home and did the prep for this evening’s dinner. This time, arborio rice with fresh porcini mushroom and smoked salmon.

Soak dry mushrooms. Brunoise of carrots and onions. Washed and sliced leeks. Sliced fresh porcini. Drain Mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Mince dried mushrooms. Crumble smoked salmon. Chop fresh herbs.

After getting that in the can, I filmed the week’s cocktail, the Buck’s Fizz.

Bucks Fizz
Use long tumbler.
1/4 Glass Orange Juice.
Fill with Champagne.

My plan was to:

Rinse glass with Miracle Mile Orange Bitters, pour bitters into mixing glass.

Make Buck’s Fizz in bitters rinsed glass.

Then make a real drink with orange bitters, like a Martini… Oh crap, I have no Dry Vermouth.

Well, make the unjustly ignored Jabberwock Cocktail instead, since I have Gin, Sherry, and Cocchi Americano.

Jabberwock Cocktail*
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (Miracle Mile Orange Bitters)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Junipero Gin)
1/3 Dry Sherry. (3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry)
1/3 Caperitif. (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon (er, orange) peel on top.
* This will made you gyre and gamble in the wabe until brillig all right, all right.

So, Buck’s Fizz. Isn’t that just a Mimosa? Well, sometimes you’ll see Buck’s Fizz variations which include Cherry Heering, Orange Liqueur, Gin, or Grenadine and most Mimosas are equal parts orange juice and champagne, but, yep, at it’s most basic, The Buck’s Fizz is a fairly dry version of the Mimosa. Or the Mimosa is a Orange Juice heavy Buck’s Fizz.

Is there anything wrong with spiking your champagne with a little Vitamin C?

Always a mess. Clean up, upload photos and video.

Make the dressing for the tomato salad. Slice Tomatoes. Wash greens.

Put reserved mushroom soaking liquid over low heat and add additional chicken or vegetable stock. Heat 2 saute pans. In one large enough to hold your rice dish, add oil and 1 cup arborio rice. Heat until toasted and fragrant. Add carrot and onion brunoise, toss and cook until tender. Add chicken stock and cook until rice is nearly tender, adding more stock as necessary. While this is going on, saute your porcini mushrooms, when they have given up most of their liquid, add the leeks. Remove from heat and reserve. When rice is nearly tender, add the minced dried mushrooms, sauteed mixture, and herbs. Stir in some grated cheese, if you like, and the crumbled salmon. Top with a little more grated cheese and serve while warm. Toss salad and serve with warm crusty bread.

Music in the video is from the new Amon Tobin CD, “ISAM”.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Self-Starter Cocktail

006

Self Starter Cocktail.
1/8 Apricot Brandy. (1/4 oz Destillerie Purkhart “Blume Marillen” Apricot Eau-de-Vie)
3/8 Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Jean de Lillet Reserve, 2004)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz North Short Distiller’s Gin No. 6)
2 Dashes Absinthe. (2 Dash Lucid Absinthe)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I guess I probably should have used Apricot Liqueur in this. It just seemed so much more appealing to me made with Apricot Eau-de-Vie. And indeed, I quite enjoyed it as above. A very enjoyable cocktail.  I suppose the Self-Starter would also be OK made with Lillet Blanc and Apricot Liqueur.

Figured I should finally start emptying this last bottle of Jean de Lillet, as Eric Seed has said that Cocchi Americano will finally be available from Haus Alpenz some time this spring. Heck, then he could have 2 products in this drink. Hm. I wonder if I can get a case discount?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Roy Howard Cocktail

002

Roy Howard Cocktail.
1/2 Glass Kina Lillet. (1 oz Lillet Blanc)
1/4 Glass Brandy. (1/2 oz Chateau Pellehaut Armagnac)
1/4 Glass Orange Juice. (1/2 oz Orange Juice)
2 Dashes Grenadine. (Dash Homemade Grenadine)
(dash Angostura)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This is actually quite enjoyable, despite its low alcohol content. Not enough juice to make it overly fruity, beyond the wine. And, indeed, the sweet/sour balance is closer to that of a wine that a sour cocktail.

Roy W. Howard, if indeed it is his namesake cocktail,was a correspondent for the Scripps McRae Newspapers and the president of United Press.

He moved to Scripps newspapers in 1920, and, by 1922, he was leading the company. He bought and consolidated newspapers and instituted a practice of investigative and public service journalism that, over the next decades, led to breaking union racketeering, uncovering bank scandals, exposing political corruption and prompting governmental safety regulations in the workplace.

Quite a lot of accomplishments, really. I can see why you would want a relatively low voltage cocktail to be able to keep your wits about you.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Richmond Cocktail

Richmond Cocktail

Richmond Cocktail.
1/3 Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Lillet Blanc, Dash Angostura, Dash Clear Creek Kirsch, Dash Simple Syrup)
2/3 Plymouth Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Unfortunately, still without Cocchi Americano or anything similar. And the latest rumors I’ve heard put Haus Alpenz release of Cocchi Americano at sometime early next year.

Well, until then, we’ll continue along with our substitutions.

I didn’t have the Luxardo Maraschino handy, so instead grabbed the Kirsch this time. Hm. Ended up OK, but probably not something I would revisit.

In a lot of ways, I think probably dry vermouth, angostura, orange peel, and maraschino is the best choice, instead of involving Lillet Blanc at all.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Prohibition Cocktail

Prohibition Cocktail

Prohibition Cocktail.

1/2 Plymouth Gin. (1 oz Plymouth Gin)
1/2 Kina Lillet. (1 oz Lillet Blanc, 1 Dash Angostura)
2 Dashes Orange Juice. (1/2 teaspoon Orange Juice)
1 Dash Apricot Brandy. (1 dash Rothman and Winter Orchard Apricot)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Out of anything more interesting to use for Kina Lillet at the moment, so going with good old Lillet Blanc with a dash of Angostura Bitters.

Even without anything more interesting than Lillet Blanc, this is an enjoyable cocktail.  I can only imagine how much more tasty it would be with something like Cocchi Americano!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Old Etonian Cocktail

Old Etonian Cocktail

Old Etonian Cocktail

2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (Angostura Bitters)
2 Dashes Crème de Noyau. (2/3 barspoon Rowley Noyau)
1/2 London Gin. (1 1/2 oz North Shore Distiller’s No. 11)
1/2 Kina Lillet. (1 1/2 oz Homemade Lillet Clone)

Shake will and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

Lot of homemade shit in this one, eh?

Homemade Noyah

Now you know when you get liqueur in a bottle as confidence inspiring as the above, you are in for a treat.

Matt Rowley, being the fearless man that he is, made a batch of Noyau earlier this year: If I had a Hammer. The minute after I read his post, I had an email out to Rowley asking if he was interested in a trade of Noyau for Nocino. He was amenable and soon a bottle of Noyau appeared in the mail.

Zyklon B or no, it is tasty stuff. If you don’t have an enterprising friend like Rowley, the usual substitution of Amaretto will likely be fine.

The cocktail is one of the more pleasing in recent memory. The bitter almond and cherry-like flavor of the Noyau combines quite well with the slightly sweet oranginess of the Kina Lillet Clone. I can only imagine it would be tastier with Cocchi Americano.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.