One of the main reasons flavored Martinis were such a big thing in the 90s is the French Martini.
Invented during the 1980s, this mix of Vodka, pineapple juice, and raspberry liqueur is far from a classic Martini recipe. Nonetheless, the sweet and fruity take is symbolic of this era.
The 80s and 90s were full of new fruity and sweet cocktails, and the French Martini is no exception. Also, it isn't the only popular fruit Martini from that period. Just think of the Appletini, for example.
Many of them got somewhat forgotten over time, but not the French Martini. Quite the contrary because the IBA List still lists it as one of just about two dozen New Era Drinks.
Read on if you want to know about the French Martini and what you keep in mind when preparing it.
Ingredients of the French Martini
The French Martini is a three-ingredient cocktail made with Vodka, raspberry liqueur, and pineapple juice.
To make it perfect, it needs fresh, quality ingredients. A decent mid-shelf Vodka like Absolut, Tito's, etc., will make for a great French Martini. - And also a lot more of our favorite Vodka Cocktails.
Also, fresh, unsweetened pineapple juice is mandatory. Squeeze it from the fresh fruit or buy 100% organic, natural juice, not made from concentrate.
And then there's the raspberry liqueur. There are quite a few options I want to look into a little more in detail.
Best Raspberry liqueur for French Martini
The most commonly used liqueur is the one from Chambord. And it is for a reason, as the drink tends to turn out too sweet.
Chambord black raspberry liqueur can be balanced quite well with Vodka and pineapple juice. However, there are still other products you can consider.
Creme de Cassis
A popular one is Creme de Cassis. This version is originally from Allan Katz, Master distiller at New York Distilling company.
For this, use 1/4 oz of Creme de Cassis instead of Chambord. Regrettably, for my liking, this results in a too-sweet drink. But palates are different, and it's worth a try if you want a sweeter take on the recipe.
Creme de Mure
Another common ingredient is Creme de Mure. It has a beautiful flavor but also leads to quite a sweet drink.
Therefore, if you feel this version of a French Martini cocktail turned out too rich for your liking, add a splash of lemon juice to balance the sweet notes.
Generally, it's pretty common to balance the flavors of a French Martini this way. It is also the way the famous Balthazar in NYC recommends doing it.
Giffard Framboise de Ronce
My favorite alternative is the Giffard Framboise de Ronce - a liqueur made of hand-harvested berries.
The Framboise de Ronce berries are actually a cross between traditional raspberries and wild blackberries. The liqueur is well-balanced with a tart and acidic taste balanced by a subtle sweetness.
For me, definitely, the best liqueur for making a French Martini.
History of the French Martini
Keith McNally invented the French Martini in the 1980s at one of his establishments.
If you have never heard of him, Keith McNally was a famous restaurateur in New York City. He opened several bars and restaurants and pompously was nicknamed "The restaurateur who invented Downtown".
The French Martini was served at multiple locations but only gained real popularity once it was on Balthazar's menu, one of McNally's more successful restaurants.
The mix of fruity and sweet notes combined with Vodka made it a perfect fit for the time.
Also, why that particular riff on Martini is called "French" is the use of Chambord, the French raspberry liqueur used in the original recipe.
Over time, there were many twists to the original recipe. Some of those replaced the Vodka base with Gin which is a great way to bring some more botanical, floral, or citrusy notes to the drink. Especially as many modern types of Gin contain pretty unique ingredients.
More expanded Martini cocktails
There are many different Martini cocktail recipes. And there truly is a Martini for everyone.
If you need more inspiration, check out our article about the most popular Martini cocktails. I am sure there's something you would love to try out yourself, too.
- 2 oz Vodka
- 0.5 oz Chambord (or Giffard Framboise de Ronce)
- 1.5 oz Fresh Pineapple juice
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.2 oz Vodka, 0.5 oz Chambord, 1.5 oz Fresh Pineapple juice
- Strain into a chilled Martini glass.