The French 75 is a very old cocktail with an unintuitive but very intriguing name, and it pairs two alcohols that may sound like they don’t belong together but once you taste this, you’ll be hooked.
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What is French 75?
The French 75 is a gin and champagne (or sparkling wine, or prosecco) cocktail that was named after a very efficient French gun used in WWI – the French 75 mm. Perhaps in honor of its original champagne ingredient ? Its true origin and how it came to have this name is entirely lost to history, but its earliest recipe can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Henry Craddock, in 1930.
Now some say that the original-original French 75 employed cognac instead of gin, and other say that it used Old Tom gin instead of cognac. Old Tom gin is a very old style of gin that is both sweetened and more rounded compared to our modern dry, botanical gin. Way less spicy.
The recipe I found calls simply for gin, so I used London dry gin but you can use whichever version of gin you like best.
French 75 Cocktail Recipe
- 1 oz gin
- 0.25 oz simple syrup
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- top with sparkling wine
- In a shaker add gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, ice. Shake well.
- Strain into champagne glass, top with sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine can and will foam, careful when topping the glasses.
When is this drink best ?
There’s something about French 75 that makes this ideal for a winter party, especially winter celebrations like the holidays and New Years Eve. Maybe it’s the champagne, maybe it’s the gin, but I think it’s a great cold season cocktail.
My thoughts on French 75
I found the French 75 to be a great cocktail, and I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of dry gin and dry sparkling wine – I expected a flop but really it tastes quite good. Add to that the sweet and tart you get form lemon juice and simple syrup and you’ll be reminded of a gin fizz (minus the egg white) but with an equally pleasant bubble.
If you like French 75, you might also like…
Airmail – white rum, lime, and champagne
Gin fizz – like the French 75 but with club soda instead
Notes, substitutes, and tips
You could swap the gin for cognac as some recipes ask, and see if you like it better.
If you use Old Tom in this, you’re going to get a sweeter cocktail with more of an amber color, and far less spiciness.
If you use sweet sparkling wine, you can skip the simple syrup in this.