Although Hennessy Cognac is best known for being commissioned by Napoleon himself, the great Emperor shouldn’t get all the credit for Revolutionary-era drinking. Bastille Day approaches rapidly and, although most Americans couldn’t care less, I am a bit of a closeted Francophile and feel the need to honor the beginning of the great, bloody proletariat Revolution (the bourgeois Revolution technically occurred earlier when the clergy defected to the Third Estate, allowing it to seize control of the Estates General). Created especially for Lillet, a quintessentially French apertif, mixologists Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson have crafted this recipe for the Liberté Cocktail (hopefully Egalité and Fraternité are not far behind). It’s simple, incredibly refreshing and no doubt something similar to any concoction the noble classes would find themselves sipping on the Riviera or at Versailles just moments before being dragged off to the guillotine. Here’s what you’ll need:
3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes orange bitters (or more to taste)
1 orange peel
Combine all wet ingredients in a shaker full of ice, stir gently but vigorously (despite James Bond’s inclinations, vermouth shouldn’t be shaken as it bruises the delicate spirit) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the orange rind to release some essential oils, drag along the glass’ rim and drop into the cocktail to garnish. Sip slowly while thoughtfully pondering whether you’d be more of a Jacobin or a Dantonist.