I have a birthday looming menacingly on the horizon, and I’d been waiting for this occasion to make a rather celebratory cocktail, the French 75. Not so much a cocktail for sipping on the couch on a weekday evening while watching Murder She Wrote (my normal MO), this champagne and gin concoction called for a slightly more special occasion. (Although now that I’ve realised how great they are, they might be making an appearance on sofa nights anyway.)
This drink seems to have been popularised by Harry McElhone at his New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, and apparently owes its name to a particularly effective 75mm artillery gun used by the French in World War I. Drinking a couple of these had a similar effect to getting shelled by one of the above, apparently (thank you Gin Foundry!). It really took off in the 40s after being ordered in Casablanca.
It’s definitely worthy of its name, with a deceptively light, fruity taste but a kick like the hind leg of a horse (something I did once, unfortunately, experience). A couple of these and you’ll be lightly off your face. Possibly it was unwise to drink these before going out to an actual cocktail bar and having several more drinks, but hey ho, you live and learn.
Recipes are a bit variable for this one – some use a lot more gin than others, but I was trying to keep things roughly on the straight and narrow before we went out, so I opted for a relatively weak mix. Basically it’s 2 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice, 1/2 part sugar and then top up with champagne. Many recipes use 2oz gin and so on, but I only used 1oz and halved down from there.
2 parts dry gin (I used 1 oz)
1 part lemon juice (1/2 oz)
1/2 part simple syrup (1/4 oz)
Champagne or sparkling wine (brut) to top up
Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup (or superfine sugar) in a shaker over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top up with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist (and very optionally, a maraschino cherry – I had just brought myself to buy some Luxardo cherries that morning so obvs had to use them!)