Kina Lillet Clone

I made my first attempt at an aperitif wine the other day, aiming for Cocchi Americano or Kina Lillet.

I bought 2 1/2 bottles of reasonably priced Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine, brought it to 140 degrees and added 1 cup of sugar.  Stirred to dissolve.

Then I added the spice tinctures I’d previously made, starting with a touch, and tasting and adding.

I finally ended up with the following amounts, where I started to be able to perceive the earthy flavors of the Quinine and Gentian tinctures in the wine:

2 TBSP Seville Orange Tincture
2 TBSP Mexican Cinnamon Tincture
2 tsp. Gentian Tincture
2 tsp. Wormwood Tincture
3 tsp. Quinine Tincture
1/2 Cup Spanish Brandy

Cooled, poured it back into the bottles, rested for a day, and tried it.

My initial reaction is I got closer to Jean de Lillet than Cocchi Americano. Admittedly, it doesn’t have any Sauterne in the wine blend, so there is no botrytized character, as in the Jean de Lillet.

Challenges: It’s really hard to judge how something warm will taste chilled or in cocktails. I would have had to use much more of the spice tinctures to get close to Cocchi Americano.  It’s tempting to just mull the spices in the warm wine.  But that will make fining or filtering much more challenging.

The Wine was also a weird pick. Muscat Canelli or similar would be a typical choice for the wine base of a vermouth. But I was feeling completely uninspired by my choices of California Muscat. Loire whites are just some of my favorite wines.

A pretty good first try, I think. Everyone who has tried it has been quite complementary. Still, it isn’t what I was hoping for.

Bonus: At the grocery store on the way home they had Sorrento Lemons!  Picked up a couple and it was just the spur I needed to start a new batch of Swedish Punsch.  And yes, Rowley, this time I will make your Lemon Punsch Pie with the leftover sliced lemons.

10 thoughts on “Kina Lillet Clone

  1. This is literally killing me! No one has Cocchi Americano any more, and I’m starting to think we’ll never see it on these shores again. But reading this post and re-reading your past ones on the topic have got me thinking. Quoting from your three-way taste test:

    “First, Modern Lillet Blanc. Light fresh wine. Strong Orange flavor. Little to no spice or bitter component.

    Second, Cocchi Americano. Sweet heavy wine. Strong Orange Flavor. Strong cinnamon spice flavor and lingering quinine finish.”

    So doesn’t this suggest that the way home is modifying the current Lillet Blanc product to add the sweetness, cinnamon spice and quinine bitterness you find in the Cocchi? Say, fortifying Lillet Blanc with a strong cinnamon syrup and adding some bitter tinctures of quinine probably and maybe gentian?

  2. I don’t really like the wine base of the modern lillet blanc or the artificial tasting citrus flavor. That’s why I decided to start from scratch.

    I have had OK luck starting from Dry Vermouth and mixing it with angostura bitters, simple syrup, luxardo maraschino, and orange zest. Actually closer to Cocchi Americano.

    The rumor is Cocchi Americano may be available again some time this spring. I’ve heard a new importer is working on getting it in the country with a TTB approved label.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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  5. Hey, interesting set of posts here. :) I was wondering why there was an emphasis on the cinnamon? I just thought Kina Lillet was more bitter? Are there any records of what Kina Lillet actually tasted like? Good luck with the quest!

  6. Tim, I’m putting the emphasis on Cinnamon because that is the what I get from Cocchi Americano. Not sure how similar it is to “Kina Lillet” but it is somewhere to start.

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