Light, bright, and super refreshing, my French-inspired Basil & Lillet Spritz recipe is one I’ll be turning to all summer long. It's made with just 3 ingredients in less than 5 minutes, this delightful bubbly cocktail brings a whole new meaning to Happy Hour.
❓ What Is A Spritz?
You've likely experienced — or at least heard of — the classic Italian Spritz, the bright, orange-colored cocktail that originated in Italy during the 19th century. Aperol spritzes are one of my go-to summer cocktails because they are so darn delicious!
A spritz is a classic cocktail and is technically defined as a wine-based cocktail, and within the past few decades, there have been so many variations of spritz that can vary greatly in flavor. Ultimately, the goal is to experience a bubbly, refreshing drink to enjoy during happy hour or with any meal - truly an ideal summer drink!
⭐ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
In this French apéritif take on a spritz, I used bright, sweet, citrusy Lillet Blanc instead of the famously crimson red, bittersweet classic Aperol spritz. When blended with the fresh, herbaceous flavor of basil, you end up with something akin to summer in cocktail glasses!
This delightfully refreshing cocktail recipe is not only delicious, it’s also a snap to make. All you need are three primary ingredients and either a cocktail shaker or a mason jar with a lid. In less than 5 minutes, you’ll have a tasty, elegant drink that will transport you to a beachside café in Marseille.
One of the best things about spritz cocktails is their short ingredient lists. Here’s what you’ll need to gather:
- Lillet Blanc - Lillet Blanc is a French Aperitif that's created from a blend of wines, variated fruits, and botanicals that sit in oak barrels over a period of time to age. It has a lovely floral, fruity and refreshing flavor and is easily one of my favorite aperitifs to incorporate into cocktails! It’s also delicious served over ice with a thick wedge of orange zest.
- Basil - By adding and shaking basil and Lillet together, the flavors start to infuse and our Lillet starts to take on a fresh basil flavor - perfect for summer sipping! Look for robust green leaves that don’t show any signs of bruising for the best flavor.
- Sparkling Wine - I prefer using a dry sparkling wine for this spritz cocktail, as the Lillet lends a rather sweet, rich quality. I'd highly recommend stashing your wine in the fridge overnight before using so your cocktail remains extra chilled.
- Lime Juice & Simple Syrup (Optional) - If you want a little extra zing and sweetener in your Lillet spritz, I suggest a squeeze of lime and a dash of simple syrup. To get the most juice out of your fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting.
📖 Step by Step Instructions
It truly takes less than five minutes to whip up this Basil Spritz with herbal notes:
Step 1: Add Basil leaves into a cocktail shaker.
Step 2: Add Lillet and shake with ice for 30 seconds vigorously.
Step 3: Add bubbles - Strain into a glass with ice and top with sparkling wine.
Step 4: Garnish - Add a basil leaf for garnish before enjoying!
Not interested in the addition of sparkling wine? You can always use club soda, soda water (or even a bit of tonic water to make a lillet tonic) to lighten the lillet spritz cocktail!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Basil Basics: To prepare the basil for this cocktail, I start by washing and drying the basil leaves and pat them dry using a paper towel. Then, to keep the remaining basil fresh to use for a cocktail the next day or to whip up a panzanella salad or some pesto, I like to place the basil stems in a small container of water and place it in the fridge.
- Citrus Primer: When in doubt, always go for fresh!! Although buying small amounts of bottled lime juice can be tempting, I would highly suggest buying fresh limes instead. Fresh citrus juice is much brighter and has a different degree of intensity. If you’re curious, buy fresh limes and bottled lime juice and try them side by side! It’s a great way to understand the differences in your own taste buds.
- Shake it like you mean it. Don’t forget to shake the basil spritz VIGOROUSLY. As creaming butter and sugar is to baking, shaking your cocktail is to bartending. The action not only chills your drink and infuses all that basil-y flavor, but also acts to aerate the drink and give it a luscious mouthfeel.
💭 Recipe FAQs
These three types of Lillet are quite different from one another. Blanc is made with white wine grapes, rouge is made with red wine grapes, and rose is made with a blend of both. Blanc has the brightest, most acidic flavor profile of the three, whereas rose and rouge are more berry-forward in their flavor profiles.
Yes! Treat Lillet like wine, because it is! Despite being fortified with some extra ABV which slows the oxidation process, Lillet will keep for longer if you keep it refrigerated. Once opened, Lillet will keep for about 2 months in the fridge.
While basil is my absolute favorite in this refreshing summer spritz, you can also give anise-scented tarragon a try.
While traveling throughout Italy, I saw Italians enjoying their colorful spritz cocktails on outdoor terraces with a side of nuts, or with a refreshing lunch/dinner! I imagine this spritz would be delightful alongside a refreshing Panzanella Salad, a Lavash Wrap or Summer Fruits covered with lime and tajin!
More Summery Cocktail & Beverage Recipes
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French-inspired Basil & Lillet Spritz
- Glass for serving
- 1 ounces Lillet
- 4-5 Basil Leaves , additional for garnish
- 4 ounces Sparkling Wine , or sparkling water
- Basil Leaf, for garnish
- Splash of Lime, optional
- In a shaker, combine Lillet & basil leaves together and shake vigorously with ice for 30 seconds. Your goal is to infuse the Lillet with the basil during this process.1 ounces Lillet, 4-5 Basil Leaves
- Strain into a glass getting rid of the broken ice chips and basil leaves.
- Add ice and top with sparkling wine and a basil leaf for garnish before enjoying!4 ounces Sparkling Wine, Splash of Lime, Basil Leaf