A gin sour is the heart of this drink. Champagne lengthens a sour made with gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Chill the cocktail and serve it in a flute with a long looping lemon twist. It is a very elegant cocktail.
Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris created the French 75 during the First World War. The drink packs a punch. Soldiers at the time compared being shelled with a French 75MM field artillery gun with drinking this cocktail.
The classic cocktail first appears in the 1922 edition of Harry MacElhone’s ABC’s of Mixing Cocktails. The drink became popular at the Stork Club in New York and made an appearance in the movie Casablanca.
French 75 Recipe
- 1 oz. gin
- 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- 4 oz. chilled brut Champagne
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, gin, lemon juice and syrup and shake well.
- Strain into a chilled Champagne flute and top with the Champagne.
Due to the kick this drink was reputedly named for the 75MM French artillery guns used in WWI. Some stories say this cocktail originated with American soldiers in France who wanted a Tom Collins. Soda water wasn't available but Champagne was. Whatever the case it's still an amazing drink.
Simple syrup works well in a French 75. It also lends itself to using flavored syrups as well. If you prefer you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of superfine sugar.
The sour aspect of this drink is fresh lemon juice. It works well with both the gin and the champagne. For variation, you can add other juices, purees, or whole fruits, but you should keep the lemon juice to maintain the acidity of the cocktail.
The French 75 recipe calls for Champagne, but any sparkling wine will work. Sparkling wines vary in sweetness and flavor, but the subtleties get lost in the presence of citrus. Don’t be afraid to use inexpensive bubbles.
What is especially important for the French 75 is the level of carbonation. You want to choose a sparkling wine that is heavily carbonated. Look for Cava, Champagne, Crémant or, Italian Metodo Classico wines. Prosecco is fine, but it is more lightly carbonated.
The French 75 started out as a Cognac based drink and it seems like that is a great place to start branching out.
Try substituting pear brandy for the gin. Pear brandy and sparkling wine are amazing together. If you really want to go for it, use a ginger syrup instead of simple syrup. Pear and ginger are a classic flavor combination for a reason.