Quick summary: Some of the closest alternatives to Lillet Blanc can be Vermouth Bianco, St. Germain, Cocchi Americano, or several Amaro drinks. But there are various ideas you can also use if needing to replace Lillet Blanc in a hurry.
Whether you’re sipping a chilled glass on a lazy afternoon, drinking it as an aperitif, or blending a spritzer, Lillet Blanc is a crisp, classy, and versatile classic.
If you can’t find any of this French fortified wine in-store or just want to change up the weekend cocktail menu, we’ve got some fabulous Lillet Blanc substitute ideas. In this guide, we’ll help you choose the best substitute to match your taste buds and drink style.
Before we get started, let’s look at what Lillet Blanc is and the different applications for which you might want an alternative. Understanding this will help you choose the most suitable Lillet Blanc substitutes for any occasion.
What Is Lillet Blanc
The French aperitif was originally manufactured in Podensac, a village in the Bordeaux region of France.
Classed as an aromatized wine, is a blend of two types of white Bordeaux wines and macerated liqueurs, along with a variety of citrus and other botanicals.
The pale yellow aperitif has a 17% ABV which is a little stronger than other wines but not quite as strong as spirits.
Basics of Aperitifs
Aperitifs and digestifs are alcoholic drinks typically enjoyed before (apéritif) or after (digestif) a lunch or dinner. Aperitifs are usually on the dry rather than very sweet side.
You can drink Lillet Blanc straight over ice, but it is also a popular addition to spritzers and cocktails.
A spritz generally includes three parts sparkling wine (such as prosecco) and two parts bitter liqueur. A sweet liqueur or low-ABV spirit can also be used with an added dash of soda water.
What Does Lillet Blanc Taste Like?
Lillet Blanc has a delicate, fruity aroma with a light, crisp, and slightly sweet taste. It features herbal notes with a hint of citrus.
Top 12: Choosing the Best Substitute for Lillet Blanc
Although it doesn’t have exactly the same flavor, there are a lot of similarities between vermouth and Lillet Blanc. It is a great substitute to drink straight or blended into a cocktail. It’s also easy to find and budget friendly.
Vermouth is a fortified wine (or wine-based liqueur) that is infused with herbs, spices, and botanicals. It has a similar citrus flavor profile with added spice notes of star anise and allspice. It also has a similar ABV of around 16% to 18%.
It is important to note that you do get a variety of vermouth types including dry white vermouth, sweet vermouth (red), and sweet white vermouth brands. Check the ingredients to determine whether the flavor profile closely matches what you are looking for.
We recommend using Vermouth Bianco, also known as Vermouth Blanc. This type falls somewhere in between sweet and dry vermouth depending on the brand or country of origin.
Vermouth is used in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Negroni. Dry white vermouth is used to make a Classic Martini and Dirty Martini.
If you only have an old bottle, you might want to read directions for Vermouth’s shelf life.
Also of French origin, St. Germain is made from extracted elderflowers, native to the French Alps. The spring flowers are macerated, blended with sugars, and then distilled.
The aromatic and floral French liqueur is popularly used as a cocktail ingredient, although it can also be served as an aperitif.
Keep in mind that St. Germain is sweeter, has a more floral flavor, and less fruity taste. It is a great swap in cocktails, but start with a smaller amount to even out the sweetness.
Cocchi Americano is an Italian aperitif wine. It has a light citrus undertone due to the addition of orange peel. It also includes moscato wine, quinine liqueur, cinchona bark, and spices.
Keep in mind that Cocchi Americano has a more bitter flavor. If you enjoy the slightly bitter taste, it will be suitable as a plain drink, alternatively use it as a substitute in cocktail recipes.
It’s generally pretty easy to find and comes in at the same (or a slightly cheaper) price point.
Amaro Averna is an Italian bittersweet herbal liqueur. It is mostly enjoyed neat or on ice as a digestif and used in classic cocktails such as the Black Manhattan.
It has a prominent citrus flavor as well as hints of caramel, anise, sage, myrtle, and juniper berries. We recommend this mainly as a substitute in cocktails or mixed drinks in a smaller quantity to start.
Although the taste, color, and consistency are quite different, you’ll get the citrus notes. Keep in mind that it has an ABV of 29% which is significantly higher than that of Lillet.
Amaro Angeleno was first enjoyed as an aperitif consisting of Pinot Grigio, unaged brandy, and a blend of herbal infusions. Whether used as an aperitif or in cocktails, it will bring a similar subtle fruitiness and bitterness.
Originating in Los Angeles, CA, it is produced on a fairly small scale compared to other wines and liqueurs. Therefore, it might not be as readily available.
Swedish Punsch is a Scandinavian liqueur made with Batavia Arrack (an Asian liquor made with red rice and molasses), Jamaican rum, citrus, and an infusion of spices.
Its flavor will depend on the brand, but generally, you can expect a sweet and complex profile with spicy notes.
Since the flavors are not identical, we recommend you use this as a substitute in cocktails to bring the sweet and fruity complexity rather than as a drink on its own.
Reserve Jean De Lillet
This French aperitif wine can be hard to find since it is a limited-release product. However, if you happen to have it, it can make a fantastic alternative.
It is aged in a similar way—in French Oak barrels with orange peel. Note that it does have a more bitter taste.
Kina L’Avion d’Or
Another French aperitif, Kina L’Avion d’Or is similar to the original (more bitter) Kina Lillet, due to the addition of quinine liqueur. It also includes white wine and orange peel as well as marmalade which gives it some sweetness.
Besides the more pronounced bitterness, this is probably the closest match you’ll find, but be prepared to pay twice the price.
With its origin dating back to 1885, Salers Aperitif is an old French wine enjoyed as a pre-dinner drink. The addition of gentian root gives it its mildly bitter character. It also contains other herbs and spices infused with a neutral alcohol.
It mainly has a bitter-sweet, earthy flavor with hints of citrus peel, mint, and anise.
Served on its own, you can enjoy it on ice with lemon. It makes a good substitute as a base for cocktails. Either way, keep in mind that it has a higher alcohol content which will yield a dryer and more boozy drink.
Dubonnet is a sweet, fortified wine that contains a small amount of quinine which adds a touch of bitterness. It is generally enjoyed as an aperitif and is very similar to Lillet Blanc, with a bit of extra sweetness.
The fortified wine is fermented with herbs and spices. The fermentation process is then stopped by adding alcohol.
It is mainly manufactured in France and the USA. The French product has an ABV of 15% while the US version is 19% ABV. Use it as a Lillet Blanc alternative in cocktails or as a drink on its own.
Dry sherry is a product of complete fermentation, meaning it has little sugar from the grape juice and a similar dry crisp profile.
Dry Sherry also shares the citrus notes and has nutty undertones. All these characteristics make it a great Lillet Blanc substitute for both drinking and cooking. It has an ABV of anywhere between 15% to 22%, so check the brand for suitability.
Angostura Orange Bitters
This concentrated alcoholic liquid (44.7% ABV) is made from sun-ripened Caribbean oranges, orange peels, and spices.
Although you’ll get the citrusy flavor, Angostura Bitters also brings a spicy kick. This makes it quite different from the subtle fruitiness of Lillet Blanc.
Even though you’ll find it in the liquor store, bitters is not actually classified as a liqueur, but rather as a flavoring for mixed drinks and cocktails. You only need to add a few drops to your drink for flavor, so use it conservatively to replace Lillet Blanc.
Cocktails That Include Lillet Blanc
Lillet is used in a number of cocktails. Here are some popular ones.
This cocktail is James Bond’s original drink of choice. It also includes gin and vodka.
Golden Lillet Martini
As its name suggests, this bright and citrusy cocktail has a golden hue and includes dark brown sugar and aged rum with a little limoncello.
A great summer drink, enjoy your Lillet with gin and basil.
The addition of Lillet turns this classic dirty martini ‘blonde’.
It is semi-sweet with a touch of bitterness. It has a crisp and light characteristic with subtle citrus and herbal notes.
This would be like substituting a rose wine for a semi-sweet white wine. The color is slightly different and the flavor is sweeter.
Lillet Rosé is essentially the Blanc version with a little added Lillet Rouge for color as well as red fruit liqueurs. Since it contains Blanc as a base, you will have some similar floral flavor notes, however, these might be overshadowed by the added ingredients.
If you’re looking for something with a bit of bitterness, rather try one of our other substitute options.
If your recipe calls for white wine, you can certainly use Lillet Blanc. It is great with desserts as well as caramelizing onions and vegetables.
Whether you’re making cocktails or having a pre-dinner drink, there are plenty of flavor-matching options if you need to substitute Lillet Blanc.
For the closest flavor resemblance, we recommend Kina L’Avion d’Or or Dubonnet. If you need an easily accessible quick fix that fits a budget, vermouth and dry sherry are easy go-to’s.
For cocktails, Angostura Orange Bitters, Amaro’s, and St Germain can add great fruity flavor or bittersweet flavor to your drink.
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