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How to Make the Classic French 75 Cocktail Recipe
The French 75 is a refreshing, crisp, and elegant champagne cocktail that’s perfect for celebrations and special occasions.
This classic recipe only calls for a few simple ingredients – gin, lemon juice, sugar, and Champagne – yet it delivers big, complex flavors in every sip.
While the French 75 has a long and storied history, it’s surprisingly easy to make at home.
With just a few basic mixology skills and quality ingredients, you can master this timeless cocktail.
Read on to learn about the origins of the French 75 and step-by-step instructions for mixing up this effervescent drink.
A Brief History of the French 75 Cocktail
The French 75 cocktail dates back to World War I and takes its name from the powerful 75mm field gun used by the French Army during the war.
As the story goes, the combination of gin and Champagne reminded soldiers of the kickback from firing the gun, hence the name French 75.
The cocktail was popularized at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, a famous watering hole for American expats and soldiers.
Legend has it that the 75 was concocted by Harry MacElhone himself when he acquired a case of gin from a British officer in exchange for a case of Champagne.
Over the years, the French 75 became a staple on the menus of European bars and nightclubs.
When Prohibition hit the United States, Americans who flocked to Paris and other European destinations got a taste for the drink.
The French 75 was featured in several films of the post-war era, cementing its place in pop culture.
Today, this Champagne cocktail remains a go-to choice for any special celebration – New Year’s Eve, birthdays, anniversaries – or just for sipping on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.
Its crisp, dry, and fizzy flavor profile also makes the French 75 a perfect aperitif.
French 75 Ingredients
The French 75 requires only four ingredients: gin, lemon juice, sugar, and Champagne or other sparkling wine. Here’s a closer look at each component:
Gin: A London dry gin is preferred for the French 75, such as Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, or Beefeater. The juniper-forward botanicals and herbal notes of a dry gin balance beautifully with the citrus and bubbles.
Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice provides tart, bright citrus flavor. Bottled lemon juice will work too.
Sugar: A simple syrup combines the sugar and water for the French 75. You can use regular granulated sugar, but simple syrup helps it dissolve more easily.
Champagne or sparkling wine: Champagne, or other dry sparkling wines like Cava or Prosecco, give the cocktail its trademark bubbly effervescence. Choose a budget-friendly sparkler if you plan to make French 75s for a party.
The classic French 75 relies on this short but impactful list of ingredients.
However, modern riffs on the drink sometimes incorporate other liquors, fruit juices, or flavorings – but the gin, lemon, and Champagne tend to remain the stars of the show.
Making Simple Syrup for French 75
While simple syrup isn’t a required ingredient for the French 75, it does help the sugar incorporate evenly into the cocktail. Here’s how to make simple syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the simple syrup from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the simple syrup to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
You can adjust the ratios of sugar and water depending on your preferences – try 2:1 sugar to water for a richer syrup.
Flavoring the simple syrup with herbs, citrus peels, vanilla, spices, or other ingredients is an easy way to put your own twist on the French 75 too.
Prep Time And Nutritional Information
Here are the prep time, total time, and nutritional information for one serving of a French 75 cocktail:
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Calories: Around 140 calories per serving
- The French 75 comes together very quickly. All that’s required is juicing the lemon, making the simple syrup (if not made ahead already), and gathering the ingredients. Total prep time is just 5 minutes.
- The actual mixing of the drink is fast – shake, strain, and top with Champagne. Total time from start to finish is just about 5 minutes.
The French 75 is a light, refreshing cocktail. A single serving provides around 140 calories.
The main sources of calories are from the 1 oz gin (97 calories) and .5 oz simple syrup (53 calories).
Champagne is low in calories (around 90 calories for 3 oz), and the lemon juice adds just a few calories.
So, in summary, allow just 5 minutes to prep and make one French 75. And you can expect around 140 calories per cocktail.
The prep times stay minimal even when scaling up batches for parties.
What is the difficulty of the recipe, and why?
The French 75 cocktail would is an “easy” drink to make in terms of difficulty level. Here are some of the reasons why:
Requires just 4 ingredients that are easy to source. The only one that needs some prep is the simple syrup.
Simple syrup can be made ahead of time so the drink comes together quickly.
No complicated techniques needed – just shake, strain and top with Champagne.
Can be made in just a few minutes from start to finish.
Ratios of ingredients are equal parts so they are easy to remember.
Makes use of basic bartending equipment like a cocktail shaker. No advanced tools required.
The shake and strain process is very straightforward.
Balancing the flavors is not difficult.
Serves just 1, so easy to mix up on demand.
Scaling up batches requires basic multiplication of the core ingredients.
Overall, the French 75 is an easy and very user-friendly cocktail recipe. The drink is fast to prepare, simple to construct, and relies on basic mixology skills.
Even someone new to cocktails could master this recipe after their first try. So this classic can definitely be classified as an easy cocktail.
French 75 Variations
While you can’t go wrong with the vintage gin version, there are plenty of tasty French 75 riffs to try:
French 75 with Cognac: Swap out the gin for brandy or Cognac. The grape-forward spirit pairs beautifully with the citrus and bubbles.
French 75 with Elderflower Liqueur: For a floral twist, add 1/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur to the shaker.
French 75 with Rose: A splash of rose syrup or rose liqueur adds delicate rose notes.
French 75 with Scotch: Single malt Scotch whisky lends warmth and complexity.
French 75 with Herbs: Muddle fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary into the cocktail shaker.
French 75 with Berries: Muddle raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries with the lemon juice.
French 75 Shooters: Skip the champagne flute and strain into 1-ounce shot glasses for a fun party twist.
The famous gin, citrus, and Champagne flavor combo makes a fine foundation for all kinds of riffs.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and put your own stamp on this vintage cocktail.
Tips for Making the Best French 75
A perfectly balanced French 75 relies on using quality ingredients and following some key tips:
Use fresh lemon juice – Bottled lemon juice lacks the bright, vibrant acidity that balances out the drink. Always opt for freshly squeezed.
Make a simple syrup – The syrup helps incorporate the sugar evenly for a smooth, balanced cocktail.
Shake vigorously – A good, hard shake chills and dilutes the gin and citrus to optimal flavor.
Pour the Champagne gently – Don’t be heavy-handed when topping off with bubbles or you’ll lose the carbonation.
Use flutes, not rocks glasses – The shape helps preserve the bubbles and carbonation. Coupe glasses also work nicely.
Garnish with a lemon twist – Express the citrus oils over the drink and rub the rim for aromatics.
Enjoy immediately – The bubbles will dissipate quickly, so consume right after mixing.
French 75 FAQs
If you’re new to making French 75 cocktails, here are some common questions answered:
What can I use if I don’t have Champagne?
Any dry sparkling wine like Cava, Prosecco, or even sparkling rosé work nicely in place of real Champagne. Opt for a budget-friendly option if mixing French 75s for a crowd.
What kind of gin works best?
London dry gins like Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Bombay Sapphire have the crisp botanicals and balanced juniper notes ideal for a French 75. Plymouth and other equal parts gin make a nice drink too.
Can I make French 75s in advance?
Pre-batching the gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a pitcher ahead of time works fine, but hold off adding the Champagne until ready to serve. The bubbles will dissipate quickly if mixed too far in advance.
What glass should I use for a French 75?
Tall Champagne flutes are traditional, but elegant coupe glasses also showcase the cocktail nicely. Just avoid short, wide Collins glasses or rocks glasses that will cause it to lose its effervescence.
Is the French 75 an aperitif or digestif?
With its dry, bubbly flavor profile, the French 75 is ideal as an aperitif before dinner. The champagne stimulates the appetite, while citrus and botanicals get the digestive juices flowing.
Enjoy the Timeless French 75 Cocktail
The French 75 cocktail has survived a century of shifting drink trends because it remains as delicious as ever.
Both elegant and easy sipping, this gin and Champagne classic should be part of every drink enthusiast’s repertoire.
Keep the ingredients stocked, and you’ll be ready to shake up French 75s anytime for a touch of vintage cocktail glamour.
For more amazing cocktail recipes featuring botanical ingredients, check out these articles:
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