Why It Works
- Using a cocktail shaker rapidly chills and mixes the ingredients.
- Pomegranate contributes a subtle sweetness and lemon adds a fresh tartness, both of which complement the complex flavors of Lillet Rouge.
Inspired by the classic French 75, this cocktail is fizzy, pleasantly sweet, slightly spiced, and refreshingly tart. Designed with the fall and winter months in mind, it’s made with pomegranate simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, sparkling wine, and Lillet Rouge.
Lillet is a brand of French aromatized aperitif wines made with Bordeaux grapes and fortified with citrus liqueurs. While lovely on their own, these aperitifs are marvelous when topped off with something bubbly, such as club soda, or stirred into a mixed drink. Lillet Rouge is ruby red, clear, and bright—a blend of oaky Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that’s dry and rich with tannins, with detectable notes of orange, berries, spices, and vanilla. It’s the perfect companion to piquant pomegranate and tangy citrus.
While it is possible to juice fresh pomegranate to make the syrup in this recipe, it’s messy (the juice stains badly) and somewhat labor intensive, and pure pomegranate juice can be found in most supermarkets year-round. The pomegranate simple syrup needs only a gentle warming on the stovetop to dissolve the sugar. To round out that syrupy sweetness, fresh lemon juice is key. After testing a range of citrus options, from tangerine to grapefruit and minneola tangelo, good old lemon was the clear winner. Because Lillet Rouge is slightly sweet and has hints of orange, the lemon juice adds brightness to the cocktail, complementing the other components without competing with them.
After rattling together the Lillet Rouge, lemon juice, and pomegranate simple syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, pour it into a large flute or coupe (I love a coupe!), and top it off with fizzy Champagne or sparkling wine. There’s no occasion this drink isn’t perfect for, whether you’re having guests over for dinner, hosting a holiday party, or simply enjoying an after-work cocktail.