Today we toast the last of our Decade of Cocktails series with one final tipple. A simple, elegant classic, the French 75 has been a celebratory staple for over a century. This drink is a fitting tribute to the end of a turbulent year, with a name inspired by a symbol of hope in some of the world’s darkest times.
Why is it called the French 75?
There’s no ‘rumour has it’ about the name of this particular drink. Plainly and simply, the French 75 is named after a gun. The French 75mm light field gun (or Canon de 75 modèle) was an incredibly useful weapon for French forces in the First World War. It proved itself in the 1914 Battle of the Marne and its success grew throughout the four-year war. Suitably, it’s achievement was immortalised with a delectable, celebratory cocktail, which would see many iterations over the course of its existence.
The original drink named the French 75 originated in Paris during World War One and was a heady concoction of gin, grenadine, calvados and lemon juice. The version of the cocktail we know today seems to have first appeared in the second edition of cocktail master Judge Jr’s Here’s How, published in 1927. The original recipe with calvados and grenadine would then resurface as ‘The Tunney’ two years later, in 1929.
How to serve the French 75
In Judge Jr’s 1927 recipe, the French 75 is served in a Collins glass over ice. Over time, the serve appears to have been adapted, with a 1934 recipe recommending the drink is served straight up, in a chilled goblet.
The fashion for champagne cocktails and the use of flutes as per the accepted current recommended serve came about in the mid-1980s. The main theory behind the rising popularity of champagne flutes over coupes is that the slender shape accentuates the bubbles for a more tantalising mouthfeel. Plus, let’s face it, who doesn’t feel elegant when quaffing from one?
How to make the French 75
As it goes, the cocktail itself is a really simple recipe, perfect for adding a flourish to your celebration without huge amounts of effort. Simply add 50ml strikingly smooth 6 O’clock Gin London Dry to an ice filled cocktail shaker, along with 10ml freshly squeezed lemon juice and 5ml sugar syrup. You can switch out the sugar syrup for a teaspoon of superfine (icing) sugar if you prefer – this will give the drink a sherbert-like quality. Shake these three ingredients for around 20 seconds until the shaker is feeling really cold. Strain the mixture into a champagne flute, top with champagne and garnish with a twist of lemon peel – voilà!
The resulting concoction adds sweetness to the sparkling wine, with the lemon juice elevating the zesty notes of our London Dry, for a pleasing, sophisticated tipple. As it’s a celebration, and also to keep things French, we would recommend sticking with champagne for this cocktail – go on, treat yourself! All that’s left to do is toast.
As we round out 2020, we raise a glass to 10 years of 6 O’clock Gin, to the end of a trying year and to hope for better things to come. Thank you for joining us on this journey through a decade of classic cocktails. All the very best wishes for the New Year from the 6 O’clock Gin team – cheers!