5 Must-Try Variations On The Classic French 75 Cocktail

Food & Drink

Few classic cocktails have stood the test of time quite like the French 75. This effervescent concoction, blending gin, champagne, lemon juice, and a touch of simple syrup, has been a spirited staple since its creation during World War I.

Of course, as mixologists continue to push the boundaries of creativity in all classics, it’s only natural that variations on this timeless favorite have emerged. In fact, some of the Sort-of 75s I’ve played with over the last few weeks are as repertoire-worthy as the OG.

What is the history behind the French 75?

Legend has it that the French 75 was born in the trenches of World War I, named after the French 75mm field gun. Soldiers, seeking respite from the harsh realities of war, turned to this delightful little libation as a means of escape.

As the story goes, the cocktail’s creation is credited to Harry MacElhone, a bartender at the New York Bar in Paris (now Harry’s New York Bar), who first concocted the drink in 1915. Over the years, the French 75 has become a symbol of sophistication and celebration, gracing the menus of upscale bars and cocktail lounges worldwide.

What are the ingredients for a classic French 75 cocktail?

Before whipping up its variations, it’s crucial to familiarize ourselves with the foundational elements of the classic French 75. The essentials include:

  1. Gin: The heart of the French 75, gin provides the cocktail with its signature botanical notes. Opt for a quality gin with a balanced flavor profile to ensure a well-rounded drink.
  2. Champagne: Sparkling wine ain’t gonna cut it, honey. We need those ferocious French bubbles.
  3. Lemon Juice: Freshly-squeezed lemon juice cuts through the richness of the gin and lifts the champagne. It’s a crucial element for achieving balance.
  4. Simple Syrup: While I personally don’t find simple syrup essential (particularly with the right gin and champagne), a touch of sweetness helps to round out more acidic, botanical notes.

And now, for the best variations on the classic French 75:

The Peachy Keen 75

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz peach liqueur
  • 0.75 oz fresh peach juice
  • Champagne

Method:

  1. Shake the gin, peach liqueur, and peach juice with ice. Strain into a flute and top with champagne.
  2. Garnish with a peach slice and edible flowers.

The French 69

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz berry-infused gin
  • 0.75 oz lavender-infused simple syrup
  • 0.75 oz lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Edible lavender for garnish

Method:

  1. Combine berry-infused gin, lavender-infused simple syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into a flute, and top with champagne.
  2. Garnish with edible lavender.

The Tropical 75

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz coconut-infused rum
  • 0.75 oz pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Champagne
  • Pineapple wedge for garnish

Method:

  1. Shake coconut-infused rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup with ice. Strain into a flute and top with champagne.
  2. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

The Smoky 75

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 0.75 oz agave syrup
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • Champagne
  • Lime wheel for garnish

Method:

  1. Shake mezcal, agave syrup, and lime juice with ice. Strain into a flute and top with champagne.
  2. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Citrus Blossom 75

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz grapefruit-infused gin
  • 0.75 oz runny honey
  • 0.5 oz fresh orange juice
  • Champagne
  • Orange twist for garnish

Method:

  1. Combine grapefruit-infused gin, honey, and fresh orange juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
  2. Strain the mixture into a flute, top it off with champagne, and garnish with a twist of orange.

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