Combat Ready

The military-inspired magic of the French 75


Some days, you can start and end with Champagne. That's the magic of it -- it's already dressed to the nines. You hardly even need to adorn it with a glass, a meal, or a reason to be poured, let alone any additional ingredients. But on other days, even the loveliest sparkler can benefit from a pair of combat boots.

Enter the French 75. Named after a powerful piece of artillery, this glittery beast gained popularity in the shadow of WWI, and soon became a society standard at the Stork Club in New York. Made of Champagne and gin, it's a refreshing, courage-inducing cocktail that requires you to forget what you know about mixing grain and grape.
If gin isn't your go-to ammunition, you can swap it for Cognac, Brandy, or vodka, a replacement that results in a French 76. Purists can go the way of the King's Peg, a combo of Champagne and Cognac that skips the other mixers (sugar, lemon juice) entirely.

"75" Cocktail
From Cocktails - How to Mix Them (1922)

2 dashes grenadine
1 tsp lemon juice
25 ml calvados
50 ml Beefeater Gin

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

Indochine 75
Adapted from Samantha Gaw

2 oz London dry gin
1/2 oz Simple syrup
1 1/2 oz Yuzu
5 oz Brut Champagne

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake well and strain into a Collins glass filled with cracked ice.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,000

    I've always had this with cognac, not gin. Since I don't drink gin at all, this version seems to me like some sort of horrible abomination, and a damned nasty waste of fine champagne.

    I have heard of gin versions, but bartenders I've talked to about it (and who I respect) tend to look at them as illegitimate country cousins. With the mainstream being cognac, why are you leading with the gin version?

    Jun 24, 2010 at 6:56 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,000

    Put a different way, it's hard to imagine anything 'French' with gin in it...

    Jun 24, 2010 at 6:58 AM

  • Snooth User: wasmith
    328368 4

    I am a gin and champagne drinker. I look forward to giving this a go!

    Jun 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM

  • Snooth User: Carly Wray
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    196958 864

    Far from a "horrible abomination," gin is in fact as much a standard option as cognac for the French 75. You'll find it listed in recipe books new and old. The bartenders and mixologists consulted (including spirit historians David Wondrich and AJ Rathbun) contend that while there is controversy over which spirit was the *original* base for the drink, the modern default remains gin. The drink has always been an excellent launching pad for creativity, though, so: If gin's not your thing, break out whatever spirit you'd like.

    Besides all that, it's delicious with gin, all sweet and tart and floral: I've had two this week, at different bars in New York, and each one has made a case for the combo.

    Jun 24, 2010 at 11:16 AM

  • Snooth User: GeneMoser
    480031 26

    Actually, the French 75 was not a "...powerful piece of artillery." It was a 75mm light artillery piece, the mainstay of the division artillery and horse drawn. It's fame was its rapid fire, not its massive round which was quite small by artillery standards.

    Jun 24, 2010 at 2:20 PM

  • Snooth User: cleere
    97952 57

    I like the information.Even though I have been working in restaurants for a number of years, it's nice to hear something "new". And I can share it with my staff. Thanks!!

    Jun 24, 2010 at 3:06 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,000

    Certitude comes in a variety of forms, Carly. Some from youthful arrogance, whether insouciant or not, some from true knowledge of a craft or avocation over decades.'Creativity' also has several guises, but calling something French based on gin definitely crosses a threshold where words and concepts tend to lose their value. And just because a recipe is in print doesn't make it a good recipe, whether for food, drinks or many other things. There's taste, and there's taste.... ;-)

    Jun 25, 2010 at 1:17 PM

  • Snooth User: jbs550
    234773 19


    I'm sorry, how is what Carly wrote any more "arrogant" than what you did? She, at least, backed up what she wrote with reasons and citations of specific people that would seem to likely be knowledgeable, as opposed to "bartenders I've talked to about it," which doesn't exactly instill confidence in the source.

    Jun 25, 2010 at 2:36 PM

  • It seems to me that it would just be easier to try it both ways, and see which one you prefer, if any. I've done that, and for me, the gin version wins hands down. I can also tell you that my best friend ordered a French 75 on the rec of a barman at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz, and it came with gin. That sounds pretty authentic to me. . .

    Jun 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM

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