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Baton Rouge

Since warm weather has returned and daylight has almost stretched to the maximum, summer entertaining is beginning to bloom. If you are dreaming of basking in the favorable temperatures and can’t wait to entertain friends and family with a seasonal gathering, then the Summer Entertaining Toolkit is for you. Over the next 4 weeks you’ll receive a full menu of recipes including a cocktail, appetizer, entree and dessert, that highlight the flavors of the season. Plus, I’ll have some techniques for dressing your table to beautifully accent the dishes. This week say hello to the Baton Rouge. Your new signature summer cocktail.

The most popular warm weather cocktails are often the simplest to make. The margarita, daiquiri, Cuba libre, and caipirinha all contain 3 to 4 ingredients, depending on the maker. The bubbly, sangria-like Baton Rouge is the product of a similar ideal. Choice ingredients of French aperitif wine, orange liqueur, sweetened lime juice and sparkling water combine to make this delightful drink. The cocktail is easily thrown together on a hot afternoon to make a single glass or fill a pitcher. (One bottle of Lillet makes 16 servings!).

Adding to the ease of crafting this drink, is the use of sweetened lime juice. I, unlike many of my mixologist friends, have no problem using this “well” bar staple. It provides advantages of a long shelf life and predictable tartness and sweetness, leading to consistent tasting cocktails. Plus, with limes costing nearly 3 metal George Washingtons apiece, I think having it on hand is not a bad idea.

Norm’s Notes: Stocking up on Glassware.

This drink is suitable for a variety of glasses, so it’s up to you on what to serve it in. A simple wine glass, double old fashioned (aka “DOF”), collins, or juice glasses are all acceptable. It’s helpful to take an inventory to make sure you have enough of the same style of glass to suit the amount of expected guests. If you are running low, or have a bunch of mismatch drink-ware, stop by an antique mall or estate sale and pick out a set of patterned beauties to add to your collection. They usually don’t cost much ($12 to $15 for a set of 6 is the max I’ll pay) so, I’ll often pick up a second set of a similar pattern or style so I have more glasses than needed. Knowing you have backups help ease the stress when the inevitable happens and one tumbles to the floor.

Baton Rouge

Makes 1 drink

3 Tbsp. red French aperitif wine (such as Lillet Rouge)

1 Tbsp. orange liqueur (such as dry Curaçao, Cointreau, or triple sec)

1 Tbsp. sweetened lime juice (such as Rose’s)

Ice cubes

Chilled sparkling water

Garnish: fresh lemon and orange slices

Combine first 3 ingredients in a 12 ounce glass filled with ice cubes. Gently stir. Top with desired amount of sparkling water. Garnish, and serve immediately.

Party Size Baton Rouge:

Stir together 1½ cups red French aperitif wine, ½ cup orange liqueur and ½ cup sweetened lime juice in a large pitcher filled with ice cubes. Add 2 to 3 cups chilled sparkling water and gently stir to combine. Garnish with fresh lemon and orange slices and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Baton Blanc

If the Baton Rouge is not your thing, try a Baton Blanc by opting for Lillet Rouge’s lighter kin, Lillet Blanc. It’s a bit sweeter and more fruity than the rouge and it’s simply delicious.

Baton Blanc

Makes 1 drink

3 Tbsp. white French aperitif wine (such as Lillet Blanc)

1 Tbsp. orange liqueur (such as dry Curaçao, Cointreau, or triple sec)

1 Tbsp. sweetened lime juice (such as Rose’s)

Ice cubes

Chilled sparkling water

Garnish: orange twist and fresh strawberries

Combine first 3 ingredients in a 12 ounce glass filled with ice cubes. Gently stir. Top with desired amount of sparkling water. Garnish, and serve immediately.

Party Size Baton Blanc:

Stir together 1½ cups white French aperitif wine, ½ cup orange liqueur, and ½ cup sweetened lime juice in a large pitcher filled with ice cubes. Add 2 to 3 cups chilled sparkling water and gently stir to combine. Garnish with orange twists and fresh strawberries and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

7 Responses

  1. DBCoop says:

    Thanks, Norman. That's one very handy and refreshingly cool toolkit that I can appreciate. Especially when summer temps have arrived early with a vengeance, though I think I'd probably need to invite a few guests over to get through eight servings of Baton Rouge — or Baton Blanc. Or maybe not….

  2. Tajmir says:

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  5. Mark says:

    when you say sweetened lime juice is that what we would call lime cordial in the UK? I think it is just wanted to double check
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Norman KingNorman is a culinary expert and cookbook author. He first harnessed a love of stirring cast iron skillets atop wooden stools at his grandmother’s stove, leading his heart and feet...

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