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 in mixology.
Many of these fruity twists fell into oblivion, 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.
Quick Facts French Martini Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: fruity, slightly boozy
- How to serve it: straight up
- Best glassware: Martini glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 18% ABV, 21 grams of alcohol per serving
Read on for more about the French Martini and what you keep in mind when preparing it.
- 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.
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, you need quality.
- Vodka: A decent mid-shelf Vodka like Absolut, Tito's, etc., will make for a great French Martini. - They also work for most of our other favorite vodka cocktails.
- Pineapple Juice: Fresh, unsweetened pineapple juice is a must. Squeeze it from the fresh fruit or buy 100% organic, natural juice, not made from concentrate.
- Raspberry Liqueur: 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 this is for a good reason, as the drink tends to turn out too sweet.
Chambord black raspberry liqueur is not as sugary as most other fruit liqueurs and has a beautifully intense berry flavor. Together with vodka and pineapple juice, it creates the perfect balance. However, there are still other products you can consider:
- Giffard Framboise de Ronce: A liqueur made of hand-harvested berries and our favorite alternative to Chambord. The Framboise de Ronce incorporates raspberries and wild blackberries. The liqueur is well-balanced, with a tart and acidic taste and a subtle sweetness.
- Crème de Cassis: Another popular option is Creme de Cassis: This version is originally from Allan Katz, Master distiller at New York Distilling Company. He used 1/4 oz of Creme de Cassis instead of 0.5 oz Chambord. Regrettably, for us, the result is still too sweet. Yet, palates are different.
- Crème de Mûre: This liqueur has a beautiful flavor but also leads to quite a sweet drink. 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.
Over time, there were many twists to the original recipe. Apart from those with different types of berry liqueurs, some recipes replaced the vodka base, for instance, with gin. That is a great way to bring more botanical, floral, or citrusy notes to the drink.
Generally, it's pretty common to balance the flavors of a French Martini with a splash of fresh lemon juice. 0.25 to 0.5 oz are enough. By the way, that is also the way the famous Balthazar in NYC recommends doing it.
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: 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 boozy vodka made it perfect for the time.
The "French" in the cocktails name refers to the use of Chambord, the French raspberry liqueur, which was also part of the original recipe.
Related Martini Cocktail Recipes
The French Martini isn't the only popular fruity Martini from that period. Here are some more, among them some pretty famous representatives:
- Just think of the Appletini
- Or the Cosmopolitan, made with cranberry juice. -Both prominently featured in multiple TV shows and movies
- The Lemon Drop Martini
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.