Museum and shop: visit the Maison Lillet, the Bordeaux aperitif par excellence

Podensac
Museum and shop: visi ...

Do you know the Lillet? It is a delicious aperitif from Bordeaux, created more than a century ago and which is still one of the most popular aperitifs in France and around the world. It's a pretty success story, made of good ingredients, of know-how resulting from experience and taste, but also of a brilliant marketing tie-up. The Lillet is as good as it was well presented and sold. To find out all about this Quinquina-based aperitif, come and visit Maison Lillet in Podensac. An aesthetic and gourmet place, where you can discover a small museum (free) and enjoy a tasting, which will end if you wish at the factory shop. An interesting alcohol to discover, very complementary to wine tours in the region!


Photos of the report: Guide Bordeaux Gironde


Lillet Blanc tasting

Lillet, an aperitif from Bordeaux, which was exported all over the world

Maison Lillet was founded in 1872 by two wine merchant brothers: Paul and Raymond Lillet, from Podensac. In 1887 they created Lillet (called Kina Lillet in its early days), an aperitif resulting from the assembly of wines, liqueurs of various fruits and Cinchona bark (a shrub whose properties help digestion, it is a tonic, bitter as they were enjoyed at the time). In the 1930s, Lillet was a staple of fine dining, selling up to 800,000 bottles a year. In the 1960s, the beverage was exported to the USA and a rosé version was born on this occasion, more powerful and tannic than its white version.

Read our article report on Podensac , an interesting town to visit in the region.


Lillet Enamel Plate
Orange peel
Cinchona bark
Visit of the Lillet Museum


It is a well thought-out marketing, with sumptuous posters that meet the desires of consumers of each era, that Lillet has been able to make itself appreciated by all. Even in the 80s and 90s, the brand was bought out and continued to prosper and be present in bars thanks to its elegant bottle and its timeless secret recipe. At the turn of the new millennium, Lillet is still among the 100 most popular and sold French brands. Since 2008, Le Lillet has joined the Ricard group and its powerful distribution network. Thanks to this, it is sold more than 1 million liters per year in the world.

Advertising plates on all types of media from the end of the 19th century, Traveling kiosk (the food truck of the time!) for tastings everywhere... Illustrated and drawn posters, "goodies" type objects, like thermometers, fans, pencils, knives, key rings… Lillet also has its ambassadors, like James Bond who makes it one of the elements of his favorite cocktail in Casino Royal. This drink has always enjoyed a strong sympathy capital, supported by an intact pleasure at each tasting. It is a quality product, which relies on the pleasure of the consumer.


Apothecary cabinet
Lillet museum
Lillet Museum

A Bordeaux aperitif to enjoy on all occasions

The Bordeaux region is rich in manufacturers of liqueurs such as Lillet, because it is at the crossroads of all the ingredients necessary for their production: wine of course, but also brandies, barks, herbs and other necessary taste accessories, which arrive by import in its major ports (anise, sugar, coffee, different types of oranges and citrus fruits). The first liqueurs did not contain sugar in their ingredients, or very little. It was to diversify its consumption, which the harshness and bitterness made difficult, that sugar was added. Subsequently sugar facilitated export, allowing better conservation.

La Maison Lillet also makes delicious syrups that you can easily find in supermarkets, as well as very good quality lemonades. With good ingredients and proven know-how, they guarantee satisfaction with each glass, for the whole family this time!


Lillet Museum
Lillet Museum
Lillet Museum


But, what exactly is Cinchona? It is a bitter tonic, which is the product of the maceration of the bark of a shrub. It is first prescribed to patients because it stimulates digestion by ensuring good salivary secretion. It whets the appetite. Its taste is on the other hand quite unpleasant for some, who do not hesitate to mix it with wine to make a more acceptable beverage... The famous fortifying wines were born! The Lillet is for its part, made with Sauternes and aged in tuns (gigantic barrels), in oak, like good wine. This is what differentiated it from other aperitifs at the time.

Visit the Maison Lillet in Podensac

Visits are by appointment for groups. The museum can be visited independently for everyone, during the opening hours of the shop: All year round from Tuesday to Friday. 10am-12.30pm & 2pm-6pm

The museography is made up of panels to explain the history of this drink to you, and also to contextualize it in the world of liqueurs and the consumption of this type of alcohol. It is an interesting museum, with some interactive, feel and touch elements. Count 1 hour of visit the time to read all the information.

At the end of the visit you can do a tasting of Lillet, to determine after having water in the mouth, which Lillet will be your favorite. The shop is waiting for you to offer you bottles, some accessories and allow you to make a nice gift, you can tell the history of Lillet to your friends, at aperitif time!


Visit of the Lillet house
Visit of the Maison Lillet
Lillet House Shop


How to taste Lillet?

Lillet (pronounced Lilet) is always drunk very fresh, it is best to keep it in the fridge. There are 3 types of Lillet, the Red, the Rosé and the White, from the strongest to the sweetest. You will always feel a touch of characteristic acidity in the back of the mouth. It is therefore an ideal aperitif, to be enjoyed with small toasts. In a stemmed glass, plain, this is the best way to appreciate the aromas. You can add Tonic (or sparkling water) and use it as a base to make more elaborate cocktails (with gin, vodka…). In the kitchen, it can be drizzled over a melon or a fruit salad. It also goes well with cheeses, to change from the traditional glass of red wine, you can try the red Lillet.

The Lillet recipe is secret, but we can tell you that it consists of wine, a macerate of fruits such as orange and bark such as Cinchona. What makes its specificity and its quality are the ingredients that are scrupulously chosen, but also the aging process and final blends, like a grand cru!


Lillet Blanc
Lillet red

We wish you a good visit and good aperitifs with friends, in moderation of course!


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