The French 75 is one of the most popular Champagne cocktails. The beauty of this drink is in its simplicity and bright citrus taste. With a base liquor of gin or cognac accented by simple syrup, lemon juice, and the vibrant bubbles of sparkling wine, it's a lovely drink that's perfect for any occasion. You'll also find that it's a wonderful brunch alternative to the mimosa.
Created sometime around World War I, the drink is called a French 75 because it was named after the French military's M1897 rapid-fire 75mm artillery gun. When they returned home, American soldiers brought the recipe, and the drink's fame was sealed in cocktail history after it became a regular at New York City's famous Stork Club.
Early in its life, this classic cocktail was made with cognac. Gin quickly overtook it as the most popular base, and London dry is the preferred style of gin. Those are not your only choices: The French 76 uses vodka, the French 95 features whiskey, and almost every spirit (including tequila) has been used in this drink over the years. No matter which liquor you choose, the best French 75 is made with top-shelf brands and fresh juice.
Gather the ingredients.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, pour the gin or cognac, simple syrup, and lemon juice.
Strain into a chilled Champagne flute that is at least half full of ice.
Slowly fill with Champagne.
Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired. Serve and enjoy.
As with many of the most popular cocktails, there are numerous ways to make a French 75, and it's hard to find two identical recipes.
- Some add a little more syrup or opt for granulated or powdered sugar. Others pour less liquor, and some drinkers prefer lime juice over lemon.
- For a simple twist, pour 1/2 ounce of a top-shelf triple sec rather than simple syrup. It acts as the drink's sweetener and adds a layer of citrus. Likewise, pour an elderflower liqueur for a floral spin.
- A staple at Arnaud's, the famous New Orleans restaurant, this French 75 recipe was designed specifically for cognac. It accommodates the darker spirit by reducing the citrus: Mix 1 ounce of cognac, 1/4 ounce each of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, and 4 ounces Champagne.
- In the French 76, vodka is the spirit of choice and simply replaces gin in the French 75 recipe. There are many variations on it as well, with some adding grenadine for a blush pink color.
- The French 95 is for whiskey drinkers. Try this recipe from Dale DeGroff's "Craft of the Cocktail": Mix 1 ounce of bourbon, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup, 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, and 4 ounces of Champagne.
How Strong Is the French 75?
This cocktail got its name because it's a powerful drink, and the liquor does make it stronger than a normal glass of wine. At its most potent—with 2 ounces of gin—the French 75's alcohol content is about 19 percent ABV (38 proof).
Who Invented the French 75?
Cocktail history has long said that the French 75 was created by Harry MacElhone. The Scottish owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris and author of numerous 1920s bartending guides is known for creating many great drinks. While he took credit for the sidecar, old pal, Boulevardier, and even the bloody mary, in his book, "The ABC of Mixing Drinks," MacElhone wrote that the French 75 was first created at Buck's Club in London.