History and background
The French 75 cocktail is a legendary, timeless classic made with both gin and champagne! The French 75 cocktail and its predecessors date back to the 1920s. Legendary author Charles Dickens was known to serve his guests a cocktail of Old Tom Gin with champagne.
The cocktail's recorded history takes us back to the 1920s. We know that Harry MacElhone, owner and bartender at Harry's American Bar in Paris, was the one to give the cocktail its name. But MacElhone gives the credit for the recipe to bartender Pat MacGarry at the famous Buck's Club in London. The inspiration for the French 75 cocktail was a firearm used during the First World War: the 75 mm Howitzer. This gun was known for its speed, firepower and efficiency – a good metaphor for the kick you get from this champagne and gin cocktail.
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock spread the French 75 recipe to the masses in 1930. The Savoy Cocktail Book is the reason for the worldwide popularity of the French cocktail.
Flavour French 75 cocktail
According to fans of the French 75 cocktail, it's the best of both worlds: a gin cocktail and a champagne cocktail all rolled into one. And few will argue with that. A generous shot of Damrak Gin gives the cocktail its power and this is then lengthened by the elegant, bubbly champagne. The fresh lemon juice and sugar syrup give the French 75 a nice balance between sweet and sour. The fresh juice and extra sweetness reinforce and balance the flavours of the herbal, fruity Damrak Gin and the sparkling, delicate champagne. The trick is to ensure that the sugar syrup and lemon juice remain inconspicuous so the cocktail is sleek and transparent.
Variation 2: Sugar
The French 75 cocktail loses its charm if you remove the sugar. In order to have the right balance, the cocktail needs some sweetness. However, we can send the French 75 in an entirely new direction by replacing the sugar with a liqueur. The addition of Bols Elderflower makes for a delicious French 75 cocktail. Fans of the Hugo cocktail will embrace this idea. It's basically a slightly more mature version of the Hugo cocktail. Orange is another nice flavour to add to the French 75. If you want to add orange notes and also give the French 75 a funky blue colour, replace the sugar syrup with Bols Blue Curaçao.
Variation 3: Juice
If you think I'm about to suggest replacing the champagne with a different sparkling wine, you've got it all wrong. There would be no better way to insult a Frenchman than to suggest you replace the champagne in the French 75 with prosecco. However, the lemon juice in the French 75 is fair game. Personally, I think a French 75 with lime juice is actually more delicious than the lemon juice version. It gives the cocktail a slightly different nuance. It may seem like a subtle change, but you'll certainly notice the difference in your glass.