Leftover Champagne? Try a French 75

Posted On January 7, 2007

Filed under Festive Drinks

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The majority of Champagne cocktails served in many restaurants are fruit-flavored drinks like the mimosa and Bellini, and sparkling berry drinks by different names. However, a couple of classic Champagne cocktails are bubbling up on drink menus.

The original Champagne cocktail is made by dropping an Angostura bitters-soaked sugar cube into a Champagne flute and filling with sparkling wine or Champagne. It is one of the few drinks today that is made just as it was when the recipe was first printed in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 book “How to Mix Drinks” believed to be the first published bartending guide.

Another classic Champagne cocktail, the French 75, is commonly altered from the original, and even cocktail historians disagree on what the original was. The drink was named after the French 75 gun used in World WarI, and its creation is credited to U.S. Army officers. It is said that the casings of 75-millimeter shells made good drinking cups.

In his book “Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail” (North Point Press; $12), William Grimes writes > “The drink was originally compounded of Cognac, lime or lemon juice, and simple syrup,” but his accompanying recipe calls for gin instead of the Cognac. In “The Craft of the Cocktail” (Clarkson Potter; $35), cocktail expert Dale DeGroff writes > “The recipe originally called for gin, but it became more popular using brandy,” and his recipe lists brandy as the hard alcohol.

According to several books and Web sites, the French 75, when made with brandy or Cognac, Cognac is brandy produced in the Cognac region of France, should actually be called the French 125. When made with bourbon, it is called the French 95.

French 75

Ingredients >
1 ounce gin
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup infused with Meyer lemon and a touch of cinnamon, see notes
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
4 ounces Champagne
For the Garnish > orange slice and cherry
To make syrup > Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Add two strips of lemon peel, preferably Meyer lemon, and a pinch of cinnamon. Bring to boil on high heat. Stir, and when sugar dissolves remove from heat. Cool. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Procedure >
Shake gin, simple syrup and lemon juice over ice in shaker. Strain into Champagne flute and add Champagne. Add the garnishes. Yields 1 cocktail.

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