Barcelonnette {a mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail}

Who would have thought to mix a fine French aperitif wine with the ruggedly-edged mezcal? I’ve never been one for convention. This mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail is a slightly smoky, bittersweet, and herbaceous highball that doubles as a delightful way to sneak some muscular mezcal into your brunch cocktail regimen. But first, a little context.

Barcelonette : a mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail :

The Paloma is one of my favorite, undervalued Mexican cocktails, and I’ve always dreamed of adding anisette or absinthe into the mix, combining the earthy-vegetal flavors of mezcal and the bittersweet acidity of grapefruit with the herbaceous and deceivingly sweet flavors of anise in a cocktail. I’ve been playing with this one for some time, and the results always elude me. The drink’s flavors don’t connect; the mouthfeel is too slick; and the masculine/feminine context for the presentation is always left undecided–not that those things matter in the end. We all like booze. I had given up on the project entirely…until I tasted my first, delicately assertive sip of Lillet Rose.

Lillet Rose :

Lillet Rose is an apertif wine from the Bordeaux region of France. It is made from Bordeaux wine grapes and is fortified with bitter orange liqueur and cinchona bark, more familiarly known as quinine in tonic water. So it drinks with a pleasant, drying bitterness and lively acidity, somewhere between a refreshing rose wine and a before-dinner tonic. It’s a cocktail in a bottle but also lends some unmatched sophistication to other cocktails. I wanted to see how it would hold up to something as powerful as mezcal, so I returned to my previously abandoned project. Perfection. The Lillet tames the mezcal in all the right ways, taking out its aggressive punch but maintaining its complex notes of green plants, smoke, and earth.

Barcelonette : a mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail recipe :

The result is the Barcelonnette, a crisp, complex, late-morning patio quaffer. The mezcal lurks in the background, popping his smoky smirk through the Lillet’s tight, floral lattice. All the while, the grapefruit provides a refreshing, lively context, and the absinthe seasons with all the right herbs and spices. This mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail furnishes both the anima and the animus, the nostalgic comfort of boozy brunches and the boorish behavior that inevitably follows. There is a little something for everyone in this glass, but nothing is compromised.

Barcelonette : a twist on the Paloma with mezcal and Lillet Rose :

For the name I wanted something elegant that would also capture this mixture of French and Mexican culture. Barcelonnette is a town in the South of France near the Alps. In the 18th Century, a large number of Barcelonnettes emigrated to Mexico. In this twisted annals of my imagination, the Barcelonnette diaspora in Mexico would have added Lillet and absinthe to the Paloma. This is what it would have tasted like.

Barcelonette : mezcal lillet rose cocktail :

Whether it’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any damned day, make this mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail your go-to brunch libation. Not since Hemingway’s “death in the afternoon” has a Sunday morning cocktail intimated such glorious, glorious ruin. Trinch!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Barcelonnette {a mezcal lillet rose cocktail}
Mexico and France mix it up in this intricate and lovely mezcal Lillet Rose cocktail.
Serves: 1
  • 1½ ounces mezcal (I used Xicaru)
  • 2 ounces Lillet Rose
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounces agave syrup
  • Barspoon of absinthe (or other Pastis)
  • Grapefruit-flavored soda water for topping up
  • Grapefruit slices and mint leaves for garnish
  1. Place mezcal, Lillet Rose, lime juice, agave syrup, and absinthe in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill with ice completely.
  3. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
  4. Strain into a highball glass or tall Champagne flute--ice is optional.
  5. Top with grapefruit soda.
  6. Garnish with grapefruit slice and a mint sprig.

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Nicholas Stanton

Bartender/Sales Associate at Craft Wine & Beer
I am strongly rooted in the Reno community. I believe in radically local ethics and the consumer support of micro communities. A large component of this is in the arts to express our realities, outdoor activities to encourage health and a deep care for the environment and food and drink culture to support local producers, farmers, and businesses. When I'm not geeking out and purveying new and exciting products at Craft Wine & Beer, I can be found cycling around town, reading literature of the Americas and dense philosophy and critical theory. Oh yeah, and keeping my two neurotic Border Collies entertained.
Filed under: Cocktail Recipes, Other Cocktail Recipes
1 comment… add one
  • Karen September 25, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Made this since I was trying Lillet. This drink is DELICIOUS and unusual!


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