The French 75 Cocktail

z french75_01The French 75 cocktail is named for the famous 75mm gun used during the First World War by the French. And while the French 75 might not be exactly like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a brick, the cocktail can pack a wallop like its namesake. 

I swear, with champagne, it’s just something about those damn bubbles. Then when you add a healthy dose of gin, well…let’s just say you don’t want to have too many of these and try anything tricky…like standing up. But, my, they are good.

The recipe is simplicity, itself: a gin sour topped with champagne. A sort of Gin Sour Royale.French 75 close up

2 oz Gin

1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup (or 2 tsp of superfine sugar)

Champagne (or your favorite sparkling white)

Shake first three ingredients with ice and strain into champagne flute or fancy cocktail glass. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

You will need to use a largish glass for this one to ensure enough room for the champagne. The champagne (or sparkling white) should, of course, be well chilled ahead of time.

This cocktail shows up in Harry Craddocks The Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930. I cannot find any previous mention of it in earlier publications. It seems hard to believe that no one came up with a drink called the French 75 before then, but there you have it. It’s possible it was being enjoyed by ex-pats in Paris after the war and no one bothered to write it down until Craddock. His only comment is that it “hits with remarkable precision.” He also suggests that it be served in a tall glass with crushed ice, making it a sort of Tom Collins Royale, I guess. It’s probably worth a try, but I think I prefer the more elegant, non-iced version. 

75mm gun

75mm gun on display at the Musee de l’Armee in Paris