The French 75 is an old school classic that is really just a Tom Collins with sparkling wine in place of the soda water.
Like most classic cocktails, the exact origins are not really known.
There are stories that it was the only classic to come from the States during prohibition But that probably is not entirely true as David Wondrich wrote in this post that there are signs of drinks that are essentially French 75s as early as the 1860's.
So David suggests that the person who "invented" the drink more likely just gave it a name. Either way let's make some.
What is in a French 75?
The ingredients for a French 75 are:
1. Sparkling Wine
2. Gin OR Brandy
3. Lemon Juice
4. Simple Syrup
There are actually two versions of this drink, one that uses Brandy and the base spirit, and one that uses gin. The gin version has become incredibly popular, and can be found on brunch menus everywhere, but both are worth giving a taste.
A French 75 with gin is light, crisp and refreshingly dry, while one made with brandy has a subtle caramel toffee thing going for it, and comes off as a bit sweeter.
Of course, you should probably try both.
Some recipe variations to try
Any popular cocktail has tons of variation based on who gives you the recipe, and the French 75 is no exception.
This leaves the door open for a bit of interpretation and I like to make a few tweaks here.
You can use anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 oz of gin, 1/2 to 1 oz of both lemon juice and simple syrup and usually 2-3 oz of sparkling wine. You can keep playing with those ratios to get something you like, and then if you want, you can start adding a few more flavor modifiers.
Try adding absinthe and different types of bitters for a more unique French 75
And also a bit of salt.
If you have read a couple posts on the blog you may have come across a recipe with Saline listed as an optional ingredient in the recipe. You certainly don’t need to add it but it helps make the flavors just a touch stronger especially when citrus is involved.
It’s basically the same as salting food. You can also just add a few grains of salt before shaking if you want to avoid the process of making a batch of saline.
Absinthe and bitters in my French 75?
The drink is great as it is usually served, but absinthe adds those nice anise notes in the background and always works well with lemon.
You can also use a few dashes of just about any kind of bitters. I think orange makes sense to compliment the orange, but that would be something fun to mess around with and see what type of difference you taste. Angostura or Peychauds would be good too, but maybe cranberry, or cucumber would also be nice.
Experiment, mix and match and decide for yourself how you like your French 75.
And how should you serve it?
You will also need to determine whether you want to serve this drink up in a champagne flute (or coupe), or on the rocks in a collins glass. Both are good and I don't think I have much of a preference either way.
Make it how you want, you are drinking the damn thing!
But it looks pretty awesome in a collins glass with a nice big piece of clear ice if I do say...
Try the French 75 recipe with Oleo Saccharum
Oleo Saccharum is a citrus syrup made by pulling out the flavors from citrus peels using sugar, and its the perfect French 75 ingredient.
It gives a much brighter citrus flavor than just the juice, because there is so much flavorful oil that you are able to pull out of the lemon skins.
After you make the Oleo you can then use in place of the lemon juice and simple syrup for a slightly more rounded citrus flavor.
If you are going to go the Oleo Saccharum route use 1 1/4 oz of lemon Oleo in the recipe below, and skip the lemon juice and simple syrup. Feel free to try adding the bitters and absinthe even if you do switch things up with the Oleo.
Should the Oleo makes things a bit too sweet just go ahead and add a bit of lemon juice!
The French 75 Cocktail
- 1 1/4 oz Gin OR Brandy
- 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
- 3 oz Sparkling Wine
- Lemon Peel - optional
- Add all the ingredients except for the sparkling wine to your shaker.
- Add ice and shake for about 8-10 seconds.
- Strain into a collins glass with ice, or a chilled flute.
- Top with sparkling wine.
- Express the oils of the lemon peel over top and drop it in for garnish if you choose.
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If you need something bubbly, classic and refreshing the French 75 is your answer.