The Louis Liberte! at Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park.
The Louis Liberte! at Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park. (BALTIMORE SUN)

Petit Louis Bistro is known and loved for many things. I'm a sucker for the trout amandine and worship the cheese cart.

The restaurant has always offered, along with a fine selection of wines by the glass, a lineup of classic French aperitifs and cordials. We're talking your kir and kir royale, Ricard and Pernod.

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But Petit Louis Bistro is not where you'd go for a trendy cocktail. "We haven't dabbled much in the creative cocktail thing," admitted the restaurant's sommelier, Austin Park Carpenter.

That doesn't mean Petit Louis couldn't, if it wanted to, come up with a snazzy, delicious cocktail if the occasion calls for it — like Bastille Day.

For this year's celebration (July 14, for you non-Francophiles), Carpenter has concocted a knockout cocktail by the name of Louis Liberte!

"I like all kinds of spirits," Carpenter said, "especially ones with aromatics and strong flavors. I decided to use vodka here, as a blank canvas for the other, classic French ingredients.

Those ingredients include yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain, a liqueur made from elderflowers, and Lillet, a wine-based aperitif.

Carpenter is a fan of Lillet, which is made from Bordeaux's semillon grapes and a secret recipe for spices and botanicals. "It's typically served over ice with a little fruit wedge," Carpenter said. "It's a very refreshing drink for summer."

I loved drinking the Louis Liberte! at Petit Louis' standing bar, with a plate of cured meat. It's a smooth customer, this cocktail.

I liked trying to discover, in each sip, the various herbal and botanical qualities imparted by the different liqueurs. And I loved the idea of using vodka, a neutral spirit, as the base for the cocktail. That kept the drink light and summery.

It goes down as smooth as silk but packs a surprising punch. Proceed with caution, or you might find yourself storming the Bastille.

How to make the Louis Liberte!

3 oz. Grey Goose vodka

1 oz. Lillet

1 oz. fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz. St. Germain

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1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

Dash sugar

Combine all ingredients with ice in a bar shaker. Shake vigorously. Release essence of lemon twist into unchilled martini glass. Strain liquid over glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Where to get the Louis Liberte!

Petit Louis

4800 Roland Ave., Roland Park

410-366-9393

$13

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