A hot summer's day calls for a cocktail with a bit of a breeze flowing through it. Something that refreshes, but also gently reminds you it's not just fruit juice in that fancy glass. Nothing fits that bill better than a champagne or sparkling wine-based cocktail. And we especially like mixing them here at Circle of Misse since there are so many excellent bubblies available from our local Loire Valley producers. This drink, the French 75, with its cool gin overtones, summery citrus notes, and celebratory bubbles, beautifully Frenchifies that most sun-friendly of drinks, the Gin and Tonic.
It reportedly originates from Henry's Bar in Paris, where it was created sometime in the 1920s to celebrate the famous French 75 rifle used in World War I. The idea being, according to the Savoy Cocktail Book, that the drink "hits with remarkable precision." As with most famous cocktails, origin stories abound, including one that a World War I flying ace created it and another that it's a British drink brought to France by Americans. A bored bartender at Henry's in Paris rings most true.
You can use actual champagne, as fancy or as basic as you like, or a decent sparkling wine from another region. It probably should be French, however, to keep with the spirit of the cocktail. A tip: buy a half-bottle ("splits") if you only intend to make a few of these.
You can also make this with vodka for non-gin drinkers. But I wouldn't bother. Just make them a nice dry vodka martini instead. The French 75 really loses something without an aromatic spirit.
- 2⁄3 measure (20ml - 2/3oz) Gin
- 2⁄3 measure (20ml - 2/3oz) Fresh lemon juice
- ½ measure (15ml - ½oz) Simple (sugar) syrup
- Lemon twist (long strip of lemon peel twisted into a spiral) for garnish
Tools of the Trade
- Measure or shot glass (30ml - 1oz)
- Cocktail Shaker with strainer
- Champagne flute
Add enough ice to reach half way up the cocktail shaker. Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup, put the lid of the shaker on and shake vigourously for one minute.
Strain into the champagne flute and top up with the champage or sparkling wine. Garnish with the lemon twist. The champagne will float on top of the gin/lemon/syrup mixture. You can present it to your guests this way for a bit of fun bartender theatre, but then give it a stir before serving.
For those seeking a sweeter, nuttier version with a pure French pedigree, I substitute Armagnac instead of Gin to mix a French 75 "a la Misse."