The French 75 Cocktail

It's no secret my wife and I enjoy love champagne, and while we usually drink it unadulterated, there are exceptions...

The French 75 cocktail is one such exception.

I first tried the French 75 during a trip to New Orleans when I found a small, but classic bar in the French Quarter adjacent to Arnaud's main dining room, named--yep, the French 75 Bar. How could I not try the cocktail responsible for the bar's name?

The French 75 Bar, pictured above, has everything I look for when sizing up a joint to sip cocktails and relax: sharply dressed bartenders and wait staff, a clean and well-kept bar, well-dressed and civilized patrons, and ambience befitting a throwback sort of establishment, and not a hangout for hipsters wearing trilby hats, jeans, and t-shirts. A bonus for me is the selection of fine cigars on hand at this particular bar. 

Back to the cocktail: the French 75 got the name from its kick, like a piece of artillery--specifically, and I'm thinking you'll guess this one--the French 75-millimeter field artillery used in World War I.  Legend has it the drink was was a favorite of the Lost Generation, and first created by Harry MacElhone, bartender of Harry's New York Bar in Paris, France.

For those who know me well, how could I not love a cocktail created in Paris and enjoyed by the Lost Generation?

There are a few recipes floating around out there, and I prefer the one listed in the Savoy Cocktail Book which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and likely many independent book shops. The book has been in print since forever, well since 1930. I, however, deviate a tiny bit from the method in that book, but only in the preparation and the type of glass.

French 75 Cocktail.JPG

Glorious, isn't it? All right, it doesn't look all that special, but here is what comprises this delicious concoction:

  • 4 cl (1.35 oz) Gin
  • 2 cl (.67 oz) Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Put those ingredients (and only those, don't add any champagne yet) into a cocktail shaker or glass. Now, rigorously stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Okay, most of the instructions I've seen have you pouring the ingredients into a tumbler or collins glass, but please use a champagne flute or a champagne coupe (or saucer as they're called in the United States) like the one pictured above (from a set of Art Deco period Baccarat champagne coupes we bought in Georgetown back when we lived in the D.C. area). I think sipping champagne or any drink with champagne as an ingredient needs to be sipped from a flute or saucer.

All right, the initial ingredients are in the flute or coupe, now top off with champagne (if you want to cheat and use sparkling wine, go ahead, but I'm a purist and stick to champagne).


Do you have a favorite champagne?  Or favorite cocktail with champagne as an ingredient?  My wife adores the standard champagne cocktails (angostura bitter-soaked sugar cube topped with champagne).