*Decided to refresh a take on this noted pre-Prohibition libation…
Nothing is more appropriate as a celebratory libation than the French 75! Whether for Bastille Day, our own Fourth of July, or for any excuse to raise a glass, the French 75 is perfectly equipped for the task.
The cocktail is named for a piece of French artillery invented in 1898 known as the French 75 or Soixante-Quinze. The cannon was noteworthy in that it is considered the first “modern field artillery piece,” with a quick-firing, hydro-pneumatic recoil mechanism. It also used time-fused, shrapnel-based shells that were more devastating to personnel than fixed targets, a characteristic particularly valuable in the trench warfare of WWI. The cannon was the mainstay of French artillery until the onset of WWII.
The cocktail itself was apparently born during WWI at Harry’s Bar in New York, and consists of Gin, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup and Champagne. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled by the powerful French 75 field piece. Variations of the cocktail were created through the 1930’s, with the noted David A. Embury substituting Cognac for Gin in his The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, a seemingly more French version.
Given the many variants, the generally accepted recipe is thus:
1 oz. London Dry Gin, or VSOP Cognac
½ oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
3 – 4 oz. Extra Dry or Brut Champagne
Add all the ingredients except the Champagne to a shaker. Shake well with crushed ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Top with the Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.