Have you ever heard of a French Blond cocktail? Me neither, until last week! I read that it’s Taylor Swift’s favorite cocktail after she recently requested it at a local Kansas City restaurant called Rye. Once I saw the ingredients—grapefruit, gin, Lillet and elderflower, I knew I had to try it. It’s fantastic. The cocktail is well-balanced, citrusy and floral, not too strong and not too sweet.
I’m generally completely oblivious to both pop culture and football, to the point that when my husband came home from a charity event last year and told me he was on a team with Travis Kelce, I said, “Who is that?” But the funniest thing has happened now that Taylor is dating Travis. Suddenly, I’m fascinated by a couple I’ve never met, I’m paying attention to football, and I’m wondering, who am I? Am I a Swiftie now?
Maybe it’s the sheer proximity of it all, like I’ve been to Rye, where Taylor Swift supposedly ordered this cocktail! My friend’s mom saw Travis at the Apple Store the other day! My husband said that Travis was friendly and great with kids, and the only rumor I’ve heard about Taylor is that she is indeed very nice. Maybe it’s because they seem like a great match, so they remind me of when my husband and I started dating.
Maybe it’s because I, like all of Taylor’s fans, imagine that maybe we could be friends if we met in real life. How crazy is that? Taylor, we have cold Lillet in the fridge if you guys want to come by for a cocktail. Now I’ve really lost my mind. Anyway, go Chiefs!
French Blond Cocktail Ingredients
I looked through all of my cocktail books and couldn’t find the French Blond recipe in any of them. The details are vague, but my understanding is that this obscure drink does indeed hail from France. It’s been around since the 1920s (perhaps). If you love a French 75 or bright citrus and gin drinks like a Tom Collins, you have to try this one.
Here’s what you need to make a fantastic French Blond cocktail (and what you don’t). I’ve tried it with various proportions, and you’ll find my favorite version in the recipe at the bottom of the post.
Lillet, pronounced lee-LAY, is a French aperitif wine fortified with a blend of citrus liqueurs. Lillet Blanc, the original variety, is made with a blend of white Bordeaux grapes. Its flavor is difficult to describe, but contains notes of flowers, candied oranges, honey, pine resin & exotic fruits.
Tip: Once opened, you must store Lillet in the refrigerator (same for vermouths, as they are all wines). Lillet will keep for up to one month. Let me tell you, I accidentally left Lillet open on the counter for a few days, and it ruined my next French Blond! Leftover Lillet makes a nice spritz with club soda and a squeeze of citrus.
Freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice generally yields the best flavor. You can typically squeeze enough juice from one large grapefruit for two of these cocktails. Grapefruit is in season during the winter, so there are some fun varieties available now. I tried several, and the MeloGold (label 3152) is fantastic, with a fragrant floral note that pairs beautifully with the gin and elderflower.
French Redhead Cocktail Variation: Make your cocktail with Ruby Red grapefruit or another red grapefruit, and you’ll end up with a beautiful pink drink called the French Redhead! I loved this option as well.
Hendrick’s gin is wonderful here. Hendrick’s botanical gin has notes of cucumber and rose, which blend well with our other ingredients. You could also use a dry London-style gin (I tried Kansas City’s Rieger brand), but the gin flavor is a little more present and a bit harsh.
St-Germain is a lovely elderflower liqueur. It’s sweet, so a little goes a long way. I don’t keep a lot of liqueurs around, but St-Germain is absolutely worth the shelf space and looks beautiful, too. You can also enjoy St-Germain in your French 75s in lieu of plain simple syrup.
Lemon Juice and Peel
Most French Blond cocktail recipes call for lemon bitters, but fresh lemon juice is much better. Believe me, I tried three different kinds of bitters, and even one drop dominates the flavor and crushes the subtle botanical notes that make this drink so special.
You’ll also need a twist of fresh lemon peel, which offers loads of lemon flavor. The trick is to twist the peel over the cocktail to release the citrus oil directly into the drink, then run it along the rim of the glass for lemon aroma in every sip.
More Gin Recipes to Try
These delightful gin cocktails are similarly citrusy and refreshing.
- Beautiful Red Bell Cocktail
- Bee’s Knees Cocktail
- Classic French 75 Cocktail
- Cucumber Elderflower Gimlet
- Tom Collins Cocktail
Please let me know how your cocktail turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.Print
French Blond Cocktail
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 1x
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: French
- Diet: Gluten Free
The French Blond is made with grapefruit, gin, Lillet and St-Germain. Rumored to be Taylor Swift’s favorite cocktail, it’s citrusy and floral. Recipe yields 1 cocktail; you can double the ingredients and shake 2 at once in a large cocktail shaker.
- 2 ounces Lillet Blanc
- 2 ounces grapefruit juice
- 1 ounce gin (Hendrick’s recommended)
- ½ ounce St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 strip of lemon peel
- Chill your coupe glass by filling it to the brim with ice and water. Set your glass aside.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the Lillet, grapefruit juice, gin, St-Germain and lemon juice. Securely fasten the lid and shake the mixture for about 20 seconds, or until the outside of the shaker is absolutely ice cold.
- Discard the ice water in your glass and gently shake out any stubborn water droplets. Strain the mixture into your prepared glass. Gently twist the lemon peel over the drink to release the oils, then lightly draw it over the rim of the glass before dropping it in. Enjoy.
Recipe roughly adapted from Saveur.