Around the holiday season many people like to entertain guests and celebrate the season. Inevitably there is plenty of booze left over after a party (although oddly this is not often a problem for me!) and, rather than put it to waste, one should turn to Midweek Libations and put it to good use. In anticipation of a few extra bottles of champagne lying around, this week we explore the French 75.
This classic cocktail, popular at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the early 1900’s, is allegedly named after a French-made 75mm howitzer field cannon used during World War I, also called a “French 75”, or "Soixante Quinze". The drink was originally served over ice, but is now more frequently served ‘up’ in a champagne flute. In keeping with its French roots, many recipes replace the gin with Cognac. The gin version is often served under the name Diamond Fizz.
The French 75 was originally concocted by the Franco-American World War I flying ace Raoul Lufbery who was part of Escadrille Américaine air fighting unit. He was a great fan of champagne but wanted a drink with more of a kick to it. Consequently, he mixed it with cognac which was readily available at the time and so created a brand new cocktail. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like the recoil of the powerful French artillery piece. Another source suggests that the casings of 75mm shells made good drinking cups! Whatever the source, it later became the drink of returning fighter pilots who would order the cocktail to celebrate a safe return from battle and toast their fallen comrades.
To relive this rich history, fill a clean cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Add a 1½ ounces of good quality gin, ½ an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of fine white sugar. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice filled Collins glass or a chilled champagne flute. Slowly top up with chilled brut champagne. Garnish with a spiral of orange peel. Cheers!
Thank you RJH! If you have missed any of the past Midweek Libations, you can catch them all HERE .