By now, your New Year’s Eve hangover should be subsiding, enough at least to where you have counted all of your leftover unopened champagne bottles. What’s that, you say? Leftover? Unopened? Really?
I’ll restate that. If there actually are any unopened champagne bottles left in the refrigerator, may I suggest crafting what I consider the perfect champagne cocktail, the lauded and classic French 75.
Though the origin of this famous cocktail is highly disputed, the name is not. Dating back to World War I, the name was taken from a French artillery gun first developed in the late 1800s, and widely used in the first World War. The drink’s name is often credited to Henry’s Hotel Bar in Paris, circa 1915, which was originally called simply 75, then later French 75.
The recipe’s origin, however, is fairly dubious since as far back as the 1850s there are written references to cocktails made in America with nearly the same ingredients — sugar, citrus, gin and champagne. There have also been versions with Applejack brandy, Calvados, cognac, grenadine and even absinthe. Despite the numerous variations over the years, the most accepted recipe throughout the drink’s history follows. There’s nothing complicated about the cocktail at all, and is in fact nothing more than a gin sour topped with champagne. But the backstory alone is reason enough to get familiar enough with this elegant cocktail that you can delight the guests at your next dinner party.
Kevin Hopper studied French for four years and knows only “un peu.” He can, however, craft a delicious French 75 at Capitol Bar on State Street in NW Boise.
2 ounces London dry gin (I suggest Death’s Door or Beefeater)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 tsp. simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice and simple sugar. Fill with ice and give a good 20-30 second shake. Strain the contents into a Collins glass filled with ice. top with champagne and garnish with a long lemon twist. Enjoy!