Lillet Blanc is a light aromatized wine that has a crisp, slightly bitter taste with hints of orange, honey, and spring flowers. It is excellent as an aperitif or chilled and sipped like white wine. The liqueur also makes a refreshing cocktail and is a key ingredient in classic drinks like the Vesper and Corpse Reviver #2.
If you can’t get your hands on a bottle, then you’re going to need a decent replacement. We’ve pulled together a list of our favorite Lillet Blanc substitutes that aren’t too far from the original drink in taste.
What can I use to replace Lillet Blanc?
If you’ve got no Lillet Blanc then try Cocchi Americana, Kina L’Avion d’Or, or sweet white vermouth with a little Angostura Orange bitters. They share similar flavor profiles and won’t be out of place added to cocktails or sipped as an aperitif. Other backups you can try include Swedish Punsch, Reserve Jean De Lillet, Amaro Angeleno, or St Germain.
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1. Cocchi Americana
The closest brand you’ll get to Lillet Blanc is Cocchi Americana, a popular Italian aperitif. It is made from Moscato wine that gets macerated with other flavorsome, aromatic ingredients like cinchona bark, gentian root, orange peel, and other herbs and spices.
Cocchi is a complex tasting drink with subtle sweetness and an herbal overtone. It provides a strong hit of bitterness to the palate, more so than Lillet Blanc. For Vesper lovers, use Cocchi to mix a bright and citrusy cocktail with a little extra bitter flavor.
In the United States, finding Cocchi Americana in stores shouldn’t be a challenge. Otherwise, a quick search online will offer plenty of buying options.
2. Kina L’Avion d’Or
L’Avion d’Or is a French aperitif that is classified as a Quinquina or Kina. This beverage was invented to help medical staff administer quinine to sick soldiers. Since then, many varieties of kina have developed with delicious combinations of additional ingredients, local to the specific region in France.
Kina L’Avion d’Or is made by Tempus Fugit, and combines white wine with Wormwood, Cinchona bark, and Orange Peel to produce a drink that’s complex and mildly bitter. Its aroma of marmalade and quince makes for a pleasant beverage sipped on its own, but it is also at home when added to cocktails like Corpse Reviver #2 or Hot Bunny.
While L’Avion d’Or is a good substitute for Lillet Blanc, it provides a more bitter flavor than the original ingredient.
Did you know? L’Avion d’Or means “Golden Aeroplane”, a reference to Frenchman Louis Blériot being the first to fly a monoplane across the English Channel, back in 1909.
3. Sweet white vermouth
If you need to replace Lillet Blanc with a more common liqueur then use sweet vermouth. Wine is infused with botanicals and fortified using a high proof alcohol like unaged brandy. As the name suggests, this is a sweet drink thanks to the addition of sugar.
Mancino Bianco Ambrato Vermouth is a delicious, refreshing choice and offers a floral, bittersweet flavor profile. It is infused with 37 botanicals offering hints of sweet orange, grapefruit, quinine, and licorice. Marcino Bianco is delicious sipped on the rocks or added to a gin and tonic or Negroni.
Related reading: Check out our guide to Vermouth substitutes.
There are plenty of sweet white vermouth brands on the market and you’ll find a bottle in any liquor store. Combine this drink with a splash of orange bitters to get closer in taste to Lillet Blanc.
4. Swedish Punsch
Punsch is a liqueur that is popular throughout Sweden and Finland and shouldn’t be confused with traditional punch (the type people love to spike at parties!). It is made by combining spirits like arrack or brandy with tea, water, and sugar.
The flavor of Punsch will vary depending on the brand, but they are generally complex in taste with sweet and spicy notes. Consume neat or add to cocktails like the Diki-Diki or Guldkant.
5. Amaro Angeleno
Amaro Angeleno is made using Pinot Grigio and unaged Brandy, infused with citrus and herbs like thyme, verbena, and gentian. This product is made in Los Angeles and offers a mix of orange and floral flavor notes with the usual bitter aftertaste you’d expect from an amaro.
Tip: You may also like to check out our article on the top Amaro substitutes.
6. Reserve Jean De Lillet
If you enjoy the challenge of finding limited release products then try Reserve Jean De Lillet. This is an aperitif that ages French Sauternes in French Oak barrels with cinchona bark and orange peel.
Its sharp and bitter finish brings it closer in taste to Kina Lillet, the original ingredient used to make a Vesper.
Very limited quantities of this product were made so keep in mind you may not be able to find it in a store near you.
7. St Germain
St Germain can be found in any good bar throughout the world and you’ll find a bottle at well-stocked liquor stores. It is a French liqueur that uses fresh elderflowers to produce a drink with a range of flavors including pear, grapefruit, and tropical fruits.
Compared to Lillet Blanc, it is a much sweeter choice. For those that struggle with too much bitter flavor, St Germain is likely to appeal more. The color and alcohol content of the two liqueurs are comparable.
Sip St Germain on its own or use it as an ingredient in Bobo Parisian or any recipe that calls for Lillet Blanc.
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A comparison of Lillet products
|Lillet Blanc||Lillet Rouge||Lillet Rosé||Kina Lillet|
|Flavor||A crisp, slightly bitter taste with hints of orange, honey, and spring flowers||Mildly bitter with a robust character. Fruity without being overly sweet||White wine flavor with a hint of quinine and citrus||A crisp, highly bitter taste drink, less sweet than Lillet Blanc and very dry|
|Color||Golden||Ruby||Brilliant rose||Light golden|
|Nose||Floral and herbaceous||Ripe dark fruits||Citrus, berries, orange blossom||Floral and herbaceous|
Fast facts about Lillet
- Lillet Blanc is great poured over ice and served with a twist of orange or lemon peel.
- It can be combined with sparkling wine, club soda, or with a bitter aperitivo.
- In cocktail recipes it is a forgiving drink and adding too much won’t ruin the taste. It pairs well with gin.
- Some describe Lillet Blanc as having a subtle grape, raisin, or kiwi flavor.
- Lillet Blanc was produced to replace Kina Lillet, a product that rose to fame after featuring in Ian Fleming’s 1953 Casino Royale. In this movie, James Bond orders a Vesper, containing three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, and one of Kina Lillet.
- Kina Lillet was first produced back in 1887 but is no longer being made. It is much drier than Lillet Blanc, its replacement.
- Lillet Blanc can be used as a sweet vermouth to make a martini.
Worth a read: What are the best substitutes for vodka?
While Lillet Blanc makes for a crisp, refreshing aperitif or cocktail ingredient, it may not be available in stores where you live. If you can’t get your hands on any, your best options are Cocchi Americana, Kina L’Avion d’Or, or a sweet white vermouth combined with a splash of Angostura bitters.
Why are you looking to substitute Lillet Blanc? Please let us know in the comments below.