Great Secret Cocktail

Great Secret Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1/3 Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)

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

Very tasty!

Pretty close to a Vesper, eh?

I suppose if you were stuck with using Tanqueray or Gordon’s it might make sense to cut the gin with a bit of vodka.

But if you’re using Plymouth, I see no reason.

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.

Frank Sullivan Cocktail

Frank Sullivan Cocktail

1/4 Glass Lemon Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Glass Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/4 Glass Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Glass Brandy. (3/4 oz Cerbois VSOP Armagnac)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I guess Frank preferred Brandy in his Corpse Reviver No. 2!

This is a fine, light cocktail, but I have to admit I really missed the dash of Absinthe.

Not sure entirely which Frank Sullivan this was named after, but there was an American journalist, humorist, and author associated with the New Yorker magazine for much of the 20th Century with that name. Sullivan also had some associations with the Algonquin Round table of the 1920s. According to this website, Guide to the Frank Sullivan Collection, he was a Cornell Grad and corresponded with the likes of P.G. Woodhouse, E.B. White, James Thurber, and even James Cagney and Eleanor Roosevelt(!).

Seems like you might need a drink after composing the New Yorker Christmas Poem for half of the 20th Century!

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.

Depth Charge Cocktail

Depth Charge Cocktail
Depth Charge Cocktail

2 Dashes Absinthe. (Verte de Fougerolles)
1/2 Glass Kina Lillet. (Generous 1 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/2 Glass Dry Gin. (Generous 1 oz Junipero Gin)

Shake (Stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

This is the first time I’ve used the Cocchi Americano in a cocktail and not been pleased with the results.

Something about this combination just didn’t quite work for me.

Especially odd, considering how much I enjoyed the very similar Deep Sea Cocktail.

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.

Culross Cocktail

Culross Cocktail

The Culross Cocktail

The Juice of 1/4 Lemon.
1/3 Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/3 Bacardi Rum. (3/4 oz Flor de Cana Extra-Dry)
1/3 Apricot Brandy. (3/4 oz Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Since the Americano is a bit sweet and there isn’t much lemon in this, I thought I might take a friend’s suggestion to heart and give this one a try with an Apricot Eau-de-Vie instead of Apricot liqueur.

Wow! Really tasty, and very interesting flavors. The cinnamon and spice of the Americano are quite nice in combination with the dark apricot flavor of the Blume Marillen. One of those cocktails that leaves me smelling the glass, intrigued.

I also tried it with apricot liqueur and modern Lillet. A lot less interesting. I suppose I should have gone on with the variations and tried Lillet/Eau-de-Vie and Americano/liqueur; but, the first one was so good, I really didn’t see the need.

If Apricot Eau-de-Vie and Americano is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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.

Corpse Reviver Cocktail (No. 2)

Corpse Reviver Cocktail (No. 2)

Corpse Reviver (No. 2)

1/4 Wine Glass Lemon Juice (3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice)
1/4 Wine Glass Kina Lillet. (3/4 oz Cocchi Aperitivo Americano)
1/4 Wine Glass Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Wine Glass Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Bombay Gin)
1 Dash Absinthe. (Verte de Fougerolles)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Note: Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

Ahem, well, going by the rules of a “Wine Glass” equaling 2 oz, I should have used 1/2 oz portions. However, the previous evening’s celebrations had left this corpse badly in need of Revivifaction.

The Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is actually quite nice here, lending a bit more complexity than Lillet Blanc. So far I have yet to find a Savoy cocktail where I prefer using the modern Lillet to the Americano. On the other hand, the Cocchi Americano was downright horrible in The Pegu Club’s White Negroni, a cocktail obviously created with the character of the modern Lillet in mind.

Bombay Gin is another new player. I’ve been wanting to give the regular Bombay a try for a while now, and now that I finished off the Boodles, I picked up a bottle. A bit mild, but not bad at all.

Patrick Gavin Duffy has a slight variation on the Corpse Reviver No. 2 in his “Official Mixer’s Manual”, which is sometimes reproduced in modern cocktail collections. In it he substitutes Swedish Punsch for the Lillet.

Corpse Reviver Cocktail (No. 2)

1/4 Dry Gin (3/4 oz Bombay Dry Gin)
1/4 Cointreau (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Swedish Punch (3/4 oz Carlshamm’s Flaggpunsch)
1/4 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz fresh lemon juice)
1 Dash Pernod (Dash Verte de Fougerolles Absinthe)

Shake well with ice and strain into glass

This is tad bit sweeter than the Lillet based affair. The flavor of the Swedish Punsch really dominates the cocktail.

Both are really quite nice, mild cocktails. If I had to give either the nod, I’d say the Savoy no. 2 made with Cocchi Americano is slightly more well balanced. Though, recently a friend told me they had really been enjoying the Swedish Punsch version with the bottled Underhill Punch I made for Tales. Maybe I need to revisit this with the homemade.

Gotta give a shout out to friend Trott. When he mentioned last summer that he was going to visit family in Sweden, he did not balk when I said, “Your mission, should you choose to accept: Bring back Swedish Punsch.” And he did! Well, it turned out not to be that hard, as his family there made a habit of consuming it as an after dinner drink. Still, very cool.

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.

Kina Quest 3: Compare and Contrast

Previous Kina Lillet rants:

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

Lillet Americano Comparison

Ok, so taste off.

First, Modern Lillet Blanc. Light fresh wine. Strong Orange flavor. Little to no spice or bitter component.

Second, Cocchi Americano. Sweet heavy wine. Strong Orange Flavor. Strong cinnamon spice flavor and lingering quinine finish.

Third, Jean de Lillet 2004. Sweet heavy wine. Little to no orange flavor. Little to no bitter or spice component.

Dammit! I still like Cocchi Americano best!

There’s no denying Jean de Lillet is a nice wine. It’s just not very bitter. It strikes me more as an attempt to produce a relatively reasonable French Dessert Wine (say Sauterne) substitute from blending wines. I like it for that and will happily drink it. It is still cheaper than real Sauterne and nearly as tasty. But it has no real quinine component that I can detect.

Of course that won’t stop me from trying to mix with it.

Barney Barnato

Barney Barnato Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Curacao. (1/3 barspoon Luxardo Triplum Dry Orange Liqueur)
1/2 Caperitif. (1 oz Jean de Lillet 2004)
1/2 Brandy. (1 oz Osocalis California Alembic Brandy)

Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. (Orange Peel.)

This is actually quite nice! Another dash of Angostura bitters and we’d be cooking with gas.

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

After what happened with the Cocchi Americano, I’m not sure I should bring this up.

However, in the spirit of “share and share alike”…

As it turns out, the Lillet company does still make a product which may be more similar to Kina Lillet than to modern Lillet Blanc.  However, it is made only in small vintage dated lots and mostly stays in France.

Corti Brothers, a Sacramento importer of Gourmet wine and food, have managed to lay their hands on a small amount of what they describe as, “Kina Lillet is what Jean de Lillet was called before WWI. The ’04 Jean de Lillet that we exclusively have is sweeter than what Kina Lillet was. Kina Lillet no longer exists.”

In the Corti Brothers newsletter description of the product they also go into further detail.

Lillet’s Secret Reserve – Jean De Lillet

Réserve Jean de Lillet, always vintage dated, is produced from appellation controlée wines which, depending on the vintage, quality, and pricing, come from Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves, Première Côtes de Bordeaux and even from Sauternes. Peels of sweet and bitter oranges from Spain, Morocco, Haiti, Mexico and South America as well as other secret fruits, eight more, are cold macerated in brandy for four to six months, then blended with the wines and then further aged. For Jean de Lillet, aging is done in oak barriques, a third new and two thirds second use. Aging Jean de Lillet produces remarkable results, but you must do it. The bottling we offer is from the 2004 vintage, which has to be called “LOT 2004.” If you can keep your hands off it, it will age well for years.

Interesting that they mention “other fruits” but no other spices or herbs than the cinchona.

A couple bottles arrived on my doorstep over the weekend and I am looking forward to trying it later this week. At which point, I will report back about how it compares to modern Lillet Blanc and Cocchi Americano.

By the bye, Corti Brothers are currently out of stock on Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, but usually stock it and hope to have it available again soon.

Campden Cocktail

Campden Cocktail

Campden Cocktail

1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Plymouth Gin)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Kina Lillet. (1/2 oz Cocchi Americano)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Lemon Peel.)

It’s not exactly awful, but close.

I know it would be awful with a questionable gin and modern Lillet Blanc.

To be honest, it is only the edgy quinine bitterness of the Cocchi Americano that saves this cocktail for me.

It is on the edge of too much gin/cointreau hand sanitizer kind of flavor.

If you want to attempt it, chill it well, drink it quickly, and move on.

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.

The Quest for Kina Lillet

There are different types of “Lost Ingredients.”

Some are just gone. They are no longer made. The Pomelo flavored “Forbidden Fruit” liqueur is one of those. The only way to get a liqueur like this is to try to make it yourself.

Some “Lost Ingredients” are still made, but only distributed in relatively small geographic areas, making them difficult to come by. “Swedish Punsch” is one of these. Almost the only way to get it is to travel to Sweden, (or make it yourself.)

The third type of “Lost Ingredient” is the one which is still made, but whose recipe has changed so significantly that it no longer resembles the ingredient which would have been called for in a classic cocktail. In some ways these are the worst. It’s like they are taunting you.

Lillet is one of these. In the 1980s, the company which manufactures it decided to re-tool their “Kina Lillet” product’s flavor to keep up with the times. According to their, (strangely informative,) website, the product was renamed “Lillet Blanc” and made, “fresher, fruitier, and less bitter.” Well, that is OK, unless the cocktail you are making with it is depending on it being relatively sweet and somewhat bitter.

To backup a bit and explain what Lillet actually is… Lillet is a fortified wine flavored with spices and bittered, like Tonic Water, with Quinine. The name for this type of fortified wine is “Quinquina.” Both Lillet and Dubonnet are Quinquinas, along with other more obscure ones, like St. Raphael.

Cocktail enthusiasts have suggested various ways of getting around Lillet’s reformulation. From adding Quinine powder directly to your drink to creating a quinine tincture and doctoring your Lillet with it.

For a while a cheery bottle had been crowing to me from the aperitif shelf of my local liquor store.

Cocchi Americano.

Cocchi Americano.

How can you resist a label like that? Eventually, I gave in and bought a bottle of Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, not really knowing what to expect. There wasn’t much information about it in on the web or on the bottle.

When I opened it, I was interested to discover it was similar to Lillet Blanc, except sweeter, spicier, and more bitter. The flavors were primarily cinnamon and citrus, with a pronounced and lingering Quinine aftertaste. I started to get a bit excited. Maybe I wouldn’t have to make a Quinine tincture after all.

Some cocktail experimentation followed, and I discovered nearly every classic cocktail which called for Kina Lillet was head and shoulders better with the Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, than it was with Lillet Blanc. The Corpse Reviver No. 2, which had previously not really thrilled me, was astoundingly eye opening. As was the Culross Cocktail. Even the Vesper, which had been perfectly fine with Lillet Blanc, seemed to perk up with that little bitter touch in the finish.

I presented the Cocchi Americano to some friends. They were a bit less enthusiastic. “Tastes like warm Vermouth,” they said. Perhaps I should have chilled the bottle. I went on to them, as I am wont, about the subtle citrus notes, and bracing Quinine aftertaste. Still not much interest. Somewhat disheartened, I presented my findings on eGullet. Apparently, my enthusiasm was enough to convince at least one person to try it. Fortunately, that one person was also able to try it against a well preserved bottle of vintage Kina Lillet, and pronounced, “The Cocchi Aperitivo Americano comes close to the “bitter” (kina) Lillet”.


A few more people have tried the Apertivo Americano since, and all agree that it makes a superior Corpse Reviver No. 2.