The Abbey Cocktail

The Savoy Project Day One – The Abbey Cocktail

The Savoy Project is an online chronicle of Cocktails, 365 editor Mark A. Vierthaler’s quest to make every single cocktail in The Savoy Cocktail Book. Each recipe contains the original recipe as it appeared in the book, as well as which brand Mark used in parenthesis next to the ingredient.

The Abbey Cocktail | ® 2017 Cocktails, 365

The Abbey Cocktail | ® 2017 Cocktails, 365

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. (Although the original does not call for it, I have added an orange peel garnish.)

Mark’s Notes:

Like many of the cocktails featuring in the Savoy Cocktail Book (and many post-Prohibition cocktails), the Abbey Cocktail is simple and spirit-forward. The biggest challenge in making a classic version of the Abbey Cocktail is tracking down the Kina Lillet.

A Kina Lillet advertisement plate, via Lillet's official website.

A Kina Lillet advertisement plate, via Lillet’s official website.

Unfortunately, Kina Lillet (so-called because the original herbal mixture contained quinine as its core bittering agent), has been defunct since 1985 when Lillet removed the cinchona bark liqueur. The result is that the current Lillet lacks the same bite and bitter of the original formulation.

Several people have made attempts at recreating or substituting the original mixture.

My solution is perhaps a bit basic, but is trying to be as close to the original as possible.

I simply took a bottle of the current Lillet Blanc, let it infuse 24 hours with 2 grams of cinchona bark and then simply added .5 oz of rich simple syrup to give it the sweeter, heavier mouthfeel commonly attributed to Kina Lillet. Filter the Lillet through a fine mesh strainer before mixing.

(If you don’t have access to cinchona bark and/or you’re impatient, adding two dashes of Angostura Bitters into the cocktail will somewhat simulate the heavier Kina Lillet. Cocchi Americano Aperitif is also a pretty accurate replacement.)

The result is a heavier, silkier and peppery apéritif for your cocktail. This compliments the usage of the drier American gin, as well as the sweetness of fresh orange juice.


  1. this is a wonderful article, Mark. And one that I have a very personal connection to. My mom used to travel extensively to Europe in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.. During my years of traveling, in the 60’s and 70’s- I remember she used to bring an extra suitcase or two for bottles of Lillet. you couldn’t buy Lillet in the USA for a long time and having fallen in love with this spirit in France- well, she brought it back by the case.. and as a boy, growing up in NJ with a swimming pool, that’s all I ever remember in the refrigerator…

    • Thanks, Warren! It was definitely fascinating to track down what ever happened with Kina Lillet (before it simply became Lillet blanc). I always enjoy hearing about your experience growing up in a house that was so flavor experience focused!

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