Get to know the French 75, a classic cocktail and the many French 75 variations you can make by switching up the ingredients. These champagne cocktails are traditionally made with gin, lemon juice and champagne, but can be mixed up into other delicious
Bright and bubbly, the French 75 is a classic cocktail that is perfect for celebrating anything, toasting with on New Year’s Eve or ordering at a cocktail bar.
It can be made the classic way or you can try one of the many French 75 variations with different spirits, juices and flavored syrups.
What is a French 75?
The French 75
The sugar syrup, gin and lemon juice are given a good shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, then poured into a champagne glass and topped with bubbly. It is one of the easiest cocktails you can make and it looks absolutely sensational.
The classic recipe is often garnished with a lemon twist, which is a piece of lemon peel that has been curled into a spiral shape. It is served in either a champagne flute or a coupe glass. It can also be served over ice in a collins glass.
History of the French 75
According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the history of the French 75 goes back to 1927 — at the height of prohibition — when the recipe was printed in a book called Here’s How! put out by a New York humor magazine.
After that, it was printed in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and rose in popularity. This classic gin cocktail is considered to be the only classic
The name is said to come from the French 75 mm field gun used in World War I. According to Difford’s Guide. A bartender named Henry Tépé of Henry’s Bar in Paris may have named the cocktail “Soixante Quinze” (meaning seventy-five in French) after the weapon even earlier, around 1914/15. Some say the gun and the cocktail “both knock you flat.”
Best sparkling wine for French 75s
With “French” in the name of the French 75, it would make sense to use French champagne in this bubbly cocktail.
However, sparkling wine can only be called “champagne” if it comes from the Champagne region of France. If it comes from anywhere else — even another region in France — it gets another moniker altogether.
But because it’s so exclusive, brut champagne tends to be pricy, so more affordable sparkling wines like Italian prosecco or Spanish cava can work too. There are also delicious sparkling wines made in the United States.
When you’re shopping for sparkling wine, pick up the best bottle you can afford. A bottle in the $10-30 range would suffice for this bubbly cocktail.
Look for “brut” or “dry” on the label — a dry sparkling wine works best with the added sugar in the simple syrup of this cocktail.
French 75 Variations
When you change up the base spirit in the French 75 to make a similar recipe, the name changes too — à la the Bloody Mary. Try one of these great cocktail combinations next time you mix up a French 75.
- The classic way, the French 75 is made with dry gin.
- When made with vodka, it’s called a French 76.
- The French 77 is made with elderflower liqueur.
- Then there’s French 95, which is made with bourbon.
- With cognac, it’s called a French 125.
- And when made with brandy, it’s called a French .45.
Beyond the spirit, you can mix things up with other flavors, such as using other spirits, fruit juices, purées and flavored simple syrups. (The amount of simple syrup can be adjusted to one’s preferred sweetness level.)
The French 75 is a bright and bubbly cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne. Refreshing and light, it has a slightly herbal flavor with hints of tartness and sweetness.
Traditionally the French 75 is made with gin. When made with cognac instead of gin, the cocktail is called a French 125.
Because it contains liquor as well as sparkling wine, the French 75 is more potent than a glass of champagne. Depending on how much liquor is added, it ranges from 15%-19% alcohol (30-38% ABV).
French 75 Cocktail
- 2 ounces London Dry gin
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce lemon juice fresh-squeezed
- 3 ounces champagne brut, chilled
- lemon twist for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin, simple syrup and lemon juice. Shake vigorously.
- Strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.
- Garnish with a lemon wheel or twist. Serve immediately.
- Always let the bottle of champagne chill well before you plan to use it. Cold champagne will make the flavors of your French 75 much better and will keep the drink crisp and cold! The carbonation of the champagne will also be bubblier when it is cold.
- Serve each cocktail immediately after pouring. This is best practice to keep the champagne bubbly and the cocktail cold.
- French 76: vodka
- French 77: gin and elderflower liqueur
- French 95: whiskey
- French 125: cognac
- French .45: brandy
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