These are three liqueur/mixers that have some similarity in color and alcohol content. St Germain has become quite popular in the last few years, while Lillet Blanc’s claim to fame is its inclusion in the Vesper, a truly nasty beverage fictionally invented by James Bond.
I put each in a shotglass, chilled it with an ice cube and tasted. Here is the result:
- St Germain: the sweetest of the three and by far the most drinkable solo. When I sipped it I thought “berries.” The sweetness is a bit overpowering, and having mixed it in cocktails, I can say that a little goes a long way unless you are actually aiming for a St Germain flavor. It is made from elderberry flowers, whatever that is.
- Lillet Blanc: formerly called Kina Lillet, it tastes like a more bitter and heavy sauvignon blanc wine with an odd and very long finish. It’s an interesting flavor to add to a cocktail, but if I wanted something like this to sip I’d just have a glass of white bordeaux or sauvignon blanc. Which, by the way, is a major ingredient. Lillet also contains a little bit of quinine, which makes it seem exotic and may help with your malaria. This would be fun to sub for dry vermouth, especially those of you who don’t really like dry vermouth, Will.
- Martini & Rossi Bianco: This is officially a vermouth, but it tastes a little like a flat Asti Spumante. I had intended to buy the Dolan’s, which is the trendy brand, but something went wrong. Anyway, it is sweet, and has an unusual flavor I couldn’t place until I read that it contains vanilla, but that doesn’t quite explain it either. I’d probably consider subbing this in anything that calls for St Germain, or if I wanted to make a dry vermouth drink sweeter, or a sweet vermouth drink not as red.