The French Blonde is such a classy and delicious gin cocktail -- and it's rumored to be the new favorite cocktail of Taylor Swift! This drink combines the tartness of lemon and grapefruit juice with sweet elderflower liqueur, crisp Lillet Blanc, and an herbal flavor from the gin. I had to garnish with a long curly lemon peel to make it even more Blonde!
This is such a versatile cocktail, and great for so many occasions! Great for everything from brunch, to a fancy cocktail bar, or even sipping in the backyard on a hot day. If you're a grapefruit lover, this drink is definitely for you.
Looking for more cocktail recipes? If you're a Lillet person, try out my Lillet Gin cocktail, which uses Lillet Rose. Or, the Corpse Reviver no. 2 is a classic gin and Lillet drink.
If you're a fan of grapefruit, try out a quick and simple Grapefruit Rickey, or the delicious Spicy Paloma tequila cocktail.
About the French Blonde
The history of this drink is a bit of a mystery. Some claim that it traces back to the 1920's as a companion to the French 75 (although that doesn't make a ton of sense, since elderflower liqueur didn't come on the market until 2007).
Whatever its origins, it went viral in 2024 for being Taylor Swift's new favorite cocktail. It's easy to see why when you have a sip!
What is Lillet Blanc?
Lillet Blanc is a French aperitif wine known for its bright, citrus-forward, and slightly herbal flavor profile. It's made from blending regional French wine with citrusy liqueurs.
Lillet was created in 1872, and has become a true staple in both classic and contemporary cocktails.
It has a tasty and well-balanced mix of sweetness, acidity, and a subtle bitterness. This makes it the perfect ingredient for cocktails like the French Blonde! It adds flavor and complexity without overpowering the other ingredients.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this drink:
- Grapefruit juice - freshly squeezed grapefruit juice will bring the best flavor. I used a pink grapefruit, which is a little sweeter than white grapefruit juice.
- Lemon juice - fresh lemon juice brings a bit more tartness and a bright flavor to the drink.
- Gin - a dry gin works great here, but you could also use a modern botanical gin like Hendrick's. I used The Botanist gin.
- Lillet - Lillet Blanc gives a subtle herbal note along with sweetness and citrus flavors.
- Elderflower liqueur - this sweet and floral liqueur gives an extra punch of flavor to the drink. I used St Germain Elderflower liqueur.
- Lemon bitters - a little bit of lemon bitters really makes a big difference to the drink, balancing out the sweetness. This is kinda optional, but recommended especially if you're using pink grapefruit juice.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Gin - you can use vodka or citrus vodka if you're not a fan of gin. Or, try a blanco tequila.
- Elderflower liqueur - you can use a different brand of elderflower liqueur, like St Elder, or you can substitute in a different liqueur like limoncello or triple sec. Or, you can use an elderflower syrup instead, like d'arbo Elderflower Syrup.
- Lillet - although there isn't an exact match of the Lillet, you can try using Dolin Genepy le Chamois, or a dry vermouth instead.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Strawberry Blonde - Muddle 2 fresh strawberries in your cocktail shaker before making the drink as written. Garnish with a fresh strawberry too!
- Non-alcoholic French Blonde - If you're avoiding alcohol, try out these substitutions: use Monday Zero alcohol gin for the gin, d'arbo Elderflower Syrup for the elderflower liqueur, and Roots Divino Bianco non-alcoholic vermouth for the Lillet.
- Champagne Blonde - Instead of the Lillet, try using Champagne or Prosecco to add some bubbly flair. Don't add the sparkling wine into the shaker, though -- add it at the very end, just before serving.
- Bejeweled Blonde - add a pinch of edible glitter (I love this clear Brew Glitter) to the cocktail shaker for some extra sparkle!
A few standard bar tools are all you'll need to make this drink! You'll want to have a cocktail shaker and strainer, along with a jigger. (Mine are from my favorite bar tool makers, A Bar Above -- use my discount code, LKDrinks for 10% off!)
If you have a fine mesh strainer, it really comes in handy to get out all of the pulp and seeds from the citrus juice.
You'll also need a serving glass, preferably a pretty one with a long stem! I used a Luna & Mantha coupe glass. A martini glass is a great choice too.
If you're making the lemon peel garnish, a channel knife will help, along with a bar spoon or chopstick to make it into a curl.
Start out by making the optional garnish. Use a channel knife to make a long strip of lemon peel.
Then, I twist the peel around the handle of a bar spoon or a chopstick to make a curl. Let it sit in the curl while you make the drink.
Add the grapefruit juice and the lemon juice to your cocktail shaker.
Then, add in the Lillet and St-Germain.
Add in the gin, and then the dash of lemon bitters.
Fill your shaker with ice. Seal up your shaker, and shake it vigorously. You can give it about 15-20 good shakes.
Strain the drink into the glass. If you have a fine mesh strainer, pour it through there at the same time to catch any citrus seeds, pulp, or ice shards.
Then, add the lemon peel garnish. You can lay the curl on the side of the glass, or attach it with a little clip. Serve and enjoy!
Hint: When you're picking a cocktail glass, look for one that will hold at least 8 ounces of liquid. You can also refrigerate the glass for about a half hour before making the drink!
Try playing around with the garnish and put your own spin on it! A fun one to try is adding a sugar rim to the glass before making the cocktail. Just use water or your cut lemon to wet the rim before dipping it into the sugar.
Or, use a slice of grapefruit as a garnish for an extra pop of color. You can even use some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme to give a nice fresh aroma when you take a sip! Cheers!
French Blonde Cocktail
- fresh lemon (for the peel)
- Use a channel knife to create a long strip of lemon peel. (Or, use a vegetable peeler and trim the peel to a long, narrow strip with a paring knife.)
- Wrap the peel around the handle of a bar spoon or a chopstick so it makes a spiral. Set it aside while you make the drink.
- Add the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur, Lillet Blanc, gin, and lemon bitters to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice and seal it up.
- Shake vigorously about 15-20 times.
- Strain the drink into your serving glass. If you have a fine mesh strainer, pour it through the fine mesh strainer at the same time to catch any pulp or ice shards.
- Attach the lemon peel garnish to the rim of the glass with a clip.
- Serve and enjoy!
- This recipe is made with pink grapefruit juice, which is a little sweeter than white grapefruit juice. If you want to use white grapefruit instead, just omit the lemon juice.