The French 75, a cocktail that marries the sophistication of champagne with the boldness of gin and the zest of fresh lemon, is a timeless classic with a captivating history and a modern, refined taste.
Born amidst the tumult of World War I, the French 75 was the creation of American soldiers stationed in France who sought to enliven their champagne. They concocted a blend of gin, lemon juice, and sugar, and christened it after the formidable French 75mm field gun, renowned for its precision and power - it "really packed a punch".
The cocktail crossed the Atlantic to make its debut to the American public through Harry MacElhone, proprietor of the famed Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, a haunt for celebrities and writers alike. MacElhone immortalised the recipe in his 1926 publication, Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, attributing it to his friend and fellow bartender, Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel in London. From there, the French 75 swiftly became a Prohibition-era staple, gracing the silver screen in films like Casablanca and appearing in literary works such as The Sun Also Rises.
The French 75 is a study in contrasts - light yet potent, refreshing yet complex. The champagne lends a touch of effervescence and sophistication, the gin imparts depth and warmth, while the lemon juice counterbalances the sugar’s mellow sweetness. Crafting a French 75 may be straightforward, but its impact is anything but forgettable.
To create your own French 75, you will need:
- 30 mL of Smeaton’s gin
- 15 mL of fresh lemon juice
- 15 mL of simple sugar syrup
- 60 mL of champagne
As for the alchemy:
- Combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake vigorously and strain the mixture into a champagne flute.
- Top up with champagne and stir gently.
- For an optional flourish, garnish with a lemon twist.
Indulge in the luxury of crafting your own French 75, and enjoy sharing the elegance of this classic cocktail.