When looking at today's recipe for a French 75, a lot has changed since the original drink got invented. During World War I, Harry MacElhone created the cocktail, and it was so boozy that people compared it to the fast-firing field gun the French used in battle, a 75mm caliber.
Yet, when looking at today's recipe, it's hard to believe that the cocktail once had such a kick. That tells us that, in the early days of the drink, the ingredients must have been quite different.
Read on to find out more about the French 75's history.
Ingredients of the modern French 75 cocktail
The modern recipe is less complex than the original one and calls for Gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar.
And let me tell you first, freshly squeezed lemon juice is an absolute must. Otherwise, your whole drink will fall flat.
When it comes to the sweet component, some prefer a rich simple syrup - a ratio of 2:1, sugar to water. But you won't taste a huge difference to regular simple syrup as the recipe asks only for a tiny bit of sugar. So you can go with that, as well.
Then there is Champagne, quite a delicate and luxurious ingredient. For the French 75, it is best to go with a Brut Champagne.
Moet works fine, but my personal favorite is Louis Roederer Brut Champagne. In that price range, I don't think you can find anything with a similar value for money, Moet included.
Finally, let's talk about Gin. The cocktail is a true classic, so I recommend using a standard Dry Gin.
If you want, you can also experiment and try a London Dry. Or you opt for another type of Gin altogether and test how that turns out. -As I said, though, I prefer to keep it classic for the French 75. You can always mix your modern Gins into another beautiful Gin Cocktail.
History of the French 75 cocktail
As I mentioned, Harry MacElhone created the early version of the French 75 during World War I. Most likely around 1915.
He composed the cocktail in his bar in Paris called Harry's New York Bar. And he must have been in quite a state when he felt like creating a concoction that was so strong that it made people think of the French fast-firing field gun.
In his original formula, MacElhone used Calvados, Gin, Grenadine, and Absinthe. This recipe was first published in 1922 when he released his renowned book, Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails.
Later that year, the cocktail recipe also was published in another book by Robert Vermeire. In his version, Vermeire gives credit to Harry MacElhone for inventing the drink but adds lime juice to better balance the flavors.
Again, a few years later, in 1927, one Mr. Judge Jr. made some more significant changes to the recipe and published it in his book Here's How. It was Judge Jr. who came up with the list of ingredients that have prevailed until today - Gin, Champagne, sugar, and lemon juice.
The fact that the French 75 also got published in The Savoy Cocktail Book, one of the most famous cocktail books in history, helped popularize the drink further.
Appearances in movies also familiarized people with this elegant Champagne cocktail and made it known to the broad masses. References in Casablanca and A Man Betrayed quite possibly had the highest impact.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 1.5 oz Dry Gin
- 2.5 oz Louis Roederer Brut Premier
- 0.5 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 bsp Simple syrup
- 1 Lemon peel twist - (for garnish)
- Add Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to your cocktail shaker and shake using plenty of ice.1.5 oz Dry Gin, 0.5 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 bsp Simple syrup
- Once the drink is well-chilled, strain into a Champagne flute and top with chilled Champagne.
- Garnish with lemon peel.1 Lemon peel twist