New Booze

Lillet Rosé Is on the Way

The makers of venerable aperitif Lillet are releasing their first new product in 50 years. And everybody has it but us.

By Brandon L. Bye May 17, 2012

Today marks a new faux holiday: National Aperitif Day. Maison Lillet, the much-hailed aperitif vintner from France’s Bordeaux region, has declared it so, and not a moment too late. The company’s first new product in 50 years, the highly anticipated Lillet Rosé, is a field day of summer-berry-wildflower-melon-stone-fruit delight sure to jump-start any appetite. It’s currently hitting liquor stores and wine shops everywhere in the U.S.—everywhere but Washington.

Consider it yet another wrinkle in the process of privatization.

While specialty stores in San Francisco and New York can’t keep Lillet’s latest on the shelves, we Washingtonians won’t get a sniff for at least a month.

“It’s on the water,” says a saleswoman at Esquin Wine Merchants, “but we probably won’t get any in until the end of June.”

When I asked the barman at Canon about the new spirit recently, he got so excited about summery drink possibilities he sent an empty beer glass off the bar in accidental gesticulation. Although some rep will inevitably bestow a few sample bottles on places like Canon, they’re waiting, too.

As state-run liquor stores prepare to cease existence on June 1 30, bottle shops like Esquin may be the best bet for procuring a bottle. But, at the moment, even some of the top bottle shops in town are dubious; some places haven’t heard of the stuff, while others have word from their distributor that it’s still a couple months out.

Maison Lillet gave bartenders and their ilk a peek at its new rosé at last summer’s Tales of the Cocktail, prompting one spirits industry website to proclaim it “another great tool in the vermouth arsenal that should unlock a whole new class of cocktails.”

For traditionalists, however, the new Lillet will be enjoyed chilled and on its own before a meal.

Any way you pour it, it’s sure to be class. But for now, we’ll have to twiddle our thumbs in anticipation.

For you at-home bartenders: What other spirits are you thumb twiddling over in this liquor store limbo state?

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