After a recent girls' weekend driving up California Highway 1 that was filled with car trouble, storytelling, and a few late nights, I wanted something to toast our memories.
Something refreshing and a tad sweet—aka an elegant take on hard lemonade—so I came up with this Lillet Lemonade Spritzer Cocktail. It's light enough to sip on while you chat away the hours but still strong enough to wash away the hardest of work weeks!
A spritzer is a chilled alcoholic drink historically made by diluting white wine with carbonated water or sparkling mineral water.
The drink is said to have originated when, in the 19th century, Austrian soldiers would travel around the then Austrian Empire and dilute the wines of Northern Italy with bubbly water until the alcohol content was lowered and more similar to a beer.
The word spritz is said to come from Austrian German as spritzen meaning to splash or spray.
These cocktails come from the same origin, but, traditionally, a spritzer is a white wine diluted with soda water, and there is no ice or garnish or anything else. Meanwhile, the Spritz is an IBA-regulated cocktail best known as being made with a bitter liqueur or amaro.
As opposed to a classic Aperol Spritz, this cocktail is not regulated as it's something I came up with on a whim. Easy, light, and subtle, this Lillet Lemonade Spritzer is the ideal warm-weather cocktail. It's bubbly, just a touch sweet and refreshing, made with Lillet Blanc, gin, lemon, honey, and soda water.
Like a simple Spritz, the idea with this cocktail is to keep things simple. As such, you can make the full drink right in a serving glass. First, you make a horse's neck garnish and place it in a glass. Then you mix lemon juice and simple syrup or honey, top it with Lillet, gin, ice, and soda water, stir it, and serve it.
This cocktail is made with a long spiral of lemon that's often called a horse's neck garnish. Confusing the situation a bit is the fact that there is a classic cocktail known as a Horse's Neck.
To make a horse's neck garnish, the key is to use a Y-shaped peeler to pull almost the entirety of a lemon peel off in one long piece. The name comes about because the spiral is arranged in a cocktail glass in a way that, well, resembles a horse's neck. Here we're spiraling the entirety of the lemon spiral inside a serving glass for maximum lemon flavor.
This cocktail is also similar to a gin and tonic in that it's gin and lots of ice and water. So, if you want something similar but different, check out this Spanish Gin And Tonic Cocktail.
or other botanical gin
or tarragon or mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
Make The Horse's Neck Garnish: To remove the zest from the lemons, use a paring knife or Y peeler and, while rotating the lemon, carefully remove the peel in one long, continuous strip (avoiding the white pith).
Having a big party? Make this in batches by mixing everything except the ice and club soda in a large pitcher up to 4 hours ahead of time. When ready to serve, fill glasses halfway with ice, add the Lillet mixture, then add the club soda to each glass and serve.
Make The Lillet Lemonade Spritzer Cocktail: In the bottom of a balloon wine glass or Tom Collins glass, stir together honey or simple syrup and lemon juice until dissolved and thinned out. Add the Lillet Blanc and gin and stir again.
Place the horse's neck garnish against the inside of the glass and add ice cubes to fill (and hold the garnish in place). Add the soda water, then use a bar spoon to stir the mixture until it's thoroughly chilled. Garnish with herbs if using, and serve immediately.
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