How to Make the French 75, or Celebrating the New Year with a Bang!

How to Make the French 75 King's PegNew Year’s Eve is one of the most popular drinking holidays and as such it lends itself perfectly to cocktail parties.  Last post we discussed the Old Cuban and in this post we are going to add another high caliber drink to your arsenal, the French 75!

The French 75
  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 5 ounces Brut champagne or other sparkling wine
  • garnish with a lemon twist

Place a generous portion of ice inside a shaker and then add the first three ingredients.  Shake hard and shake long, because it takes a bit of time for the sugar to fully dissolve in the cocktail.  Once chilled and mixed, strain the the cocktail into a collins glass with ice and top off with the champagne.  Garnish with an elegant lemon twist.  In the simplest terms, it is a Tom Collins with sparkling wine instead of soda water.

The first thing you will notice about this cocktail is it has a lot of alcohol in it.  Over two standard drinks as a matter of fact.  As it turns out, despite some sources across the web claiming there should be a lot less alcohol in this cocktail, there is a reason that this drink is supposed hit like a howitzer, and that reason is actually based in its name.  The cocktail get’s its name from the famous workhorse of the french artillery during WWI, the 75mm M1897–nicknamed the French 75.  This artillery gun rained hell down on the Axis and was notorious for its fast rate of fire.  Wonder what this artillery gun looked like and why it was so special?  Here is a quick peak:

Since this cocktail is so strong, it is a good idea to pace yourself when drinking it.  The taste can easily lull you into a sense of low alcohol content if you aren’t careful.  For those of you who aren’t fans of gin, there is actually a delicious substitute that is in its own right another cocktail. If you substitute the gin for 2oz of Brandy or Cognac, you now have a new drink known as the King’s Peg.  Some recipes for the king’s peg omit the use of sugar and lemon, however I think it adds a wonderful touch of sweet and sour to the cocktail whose complexity is otherwise lost.

For another take on the French 75 which is a bit less lethal in terms of potency, check out this great video by bartender Jeffery Morgenthaler produced by the Small Screen Network.

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Posted in Brandy, Cognac, Gin, Sparkling Wine

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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