The French 75 cocktail has made drinkers swoon for more than a century thanks to its easy elegance and subtly sweet effervescence. If you haven’t tried it, you really ought to remedy that. Here’s how to make it.
The French 75 cocktail has been popular for more than a century, and for good reason. It’s a sophisticated cocktail that makes an elegant aperitif given the subtle intensity of Cognac, the sweetly tart lilt of lemon simple syrup, and the effusive effervescence of Champagne splashed in at the end.–Ina Garten
How Did The Classic French 75 Get Its Name?
One version of the tale behind the French 75 cocktail has us believe that back during World War 1 the French and American troops celebrated victories with Champagne and Cognac mixed with lemon and sugar. As the story goes, the French 75 was named after the 75 mm gun relied upon by French forces. The gun was known for its accuracy and its swiftness, and being knocked down by a bullet from it was about like the kick felt when imbibing this cocktail. Years later, gin became an able substitute for the Cognac, although neither version is better per se. Nor is there a proper or precise proportion of booze to Champagne, seeing as it seems to vary with each bartender who shakes this cocktail. So make it. Taste it. Tweak it if you want. Make it your own. It’s the effusive and inebriating spirit behind this inspired mingling of ingredients that makes the cocktail a classic, not the precise amount of this or that. Kindly note that pacifists may wish to abstain given the cocktail’s rather rowdy rumored past.
French 75 Cocktail
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 5 M
- Serves 6
- 3 to 4 lemons, preferably organic
- 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces or 118 ml) Cognac (VS or VSOP)
- 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces or 118 ml) simple syrup
- 2 cups ice cubes
- One 750-ml bottle Champagne, chilled
- 4 long strips lemon zest, preferably organic
- 1. Before squeezing the lemons for their juice, use a sharp vegetable peeler to zest the lemon into long strips, taking care to avoid the bitter white pith beneath the zest. Then squeeze enough lemons to yield 1 ⁄ 3 cup (3 ounces or 80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- 2. Pour the lemon juice, Cognac, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker and add the ice. Shake for at least 30 seconds. (It’s longer than you think!).
- 3. Divvy the mixture among 6 flutes, filling each glass about 2/3 full. (If you prefer a less sweet cocktail, start by filling a glass 1/2 full.) Top off each flute with Champagne, garnish with the lemon zest, and serve ice cold.