The French 75 is an old favorite in the cocktail scene. It is one of the most popular Champagne drinks and surprisingly easy to mix up. Tasting similar to a champagne martini, the beauty of this drink is in its simplicity. With a base liquor—gin or brandy—accented by simple syrup, lemon juice, and topped off with vibrant sparkling champagne, it's a lovely drink that's perfect for any occasion.
A timeless cocktail, the French 75, was created sometime around World War I. Named after the 75mm M1897 artillery gun used by the French military—which was known for not only its speed and accuracy but also it's "kick"—and the American GI's brought the recipe home. It was at New York City's famous Stork Club that the French 75 really became a hit.
At some point in its early history, this champagne cocktail was made with Cognac, though gin is the most popular base today. There are now countless variations on this drink, so there's a mix that's sure to appeal to everyone.
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.
More French 75 Recipes
As with many of the most popular cocktails, there are many ways to make a French 75 and it's hard to find two identical recipes. Every bartender has their own twist on it: some add a little more syrup or opt for granulated or powdered sugar, others pour less liquor or choose one other than gin and brandy. Popular variations include the French 76 (vodka) and French 95 (whiskey), though almost every spirit (including tequila) has been used in a French 75 over the years. How is a drinker supposed to choose?
Very simple...try them all! Give each of these recipes a chance and see which one you like best. In all likelihood, you will enjoy one just a little bit more and end up putting your own personal twist on it. They're all prepared in the same manner, so once you learn one it's a simple matter of substituting ingredients.
- Alternative French 75: Rather than use simple syrup, this version opts for Cointreau for an extra layer of citrus. Make it by mixing 1-ounce gin or Cognac, 1/2-ounce Cointreau, 1/2-ounce lemon juice, and 4-ounces Champagne.
- Cognac-Specific French 75: A staple at the famous New Orleans restaurant, Arnaud's, this recipe was designed specifically for Cognac. It accommodates the darker spirit by reducing the lemon. To make it, mix 1-ounce Cognac, 1/4-ounce fresh lemon juice, 1/4-ounce simple syrup, and 4-ounces Champagne.
- French 76: Vodka is the spirit of choice in the French 76. Simply use it to replace the gin in the French 75 recipe. There are many variations on it as well, with some even adding grenadine.
- French 95: If whiskey is your preference, then the French 95 is the drink for you. The recipe comes from Dale DeGroff's "Craft of the Cocktail": mix 1-ounce bourbon, 3/4 ounce simple syrup, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, and 4 ounces Champagne.
- Though you can skip it, the majority of the time the French 75 is preferred over ice.
- A pour of 3 to 5 ounces of Champagne is normal and Brut is often preferred because it has a drier profile.
- London dry is the preferred style of gin.
- No matter the recipe, always use top-shelf spirits. This drink deserves it!
- Some drinkers prefer lime juice over lemon.
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).
French 75 History
There is as much debate over the French 75's origin as there is about which spirit goes into the shaker. Cocktail history has long said that it was created by Harry MacElhone, the Scottish owner of the popular Harry's New York Bar in Paris and author of numerous 1920s bartending guides. MacElhone has been known for creating great drinks including the sidecar, old pal, Boulevardier, and even the bloody Mary. However, MacElhone credited Buck's Club in London as the French 75's birthplace in his book, "The ABC of Mixing Drinks."