French 75 (Variation)

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Cocktail History

The French 75 is a classic sparkling wine cocktail that was created by Harry MacElhone in the early 1900s at his establishment Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. The original 75 cocktail was made of gin, sugar, lemon, and sparkling wine and is said to have been named for the 75mm French artillery gun used in World War I. It was popularized in the United States by the Stork Club in New York City, New York when American soldiers brought the recipe home from Europe.

Although traditionally made with gin, David A. Embury insisted that the French 75 be made with brandy instead in his 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks: The Classic Guide to the Cocktail, so this variation uses Armagnac as the base.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Sparkling Wine: This is one of the base spirits. It’s poured on top at the end to add sparkling wine flavor and effervescence. We went with Villa Bellezza Winery’s Brillante because it was our wedding wine and we love its light and airy taste.

Armagnac: This is the other base spirit. We chose ODVI Armagnac because it’s fresh, fruity, peppery, and mild with notes of peach and prune.

Lemon Juice: This adds sweet and sour citrus flavors. We prefer to use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes better.

Simple Syrup: This is a sweetener made with sugar and water. You can buy bottled simple syrup in a store, but we made ours at home using Alex’s recipe because it tastes better fresh and is very easy to make.

Lemon Twist: This is the garnish. It adds more fresh lemon aroma and flavor.

Tasting Notes

The French 75 features aromas of the grape spirit, lemon, and wine, and it has a taste that marries Armagnac’s deep, dry flavors with sparkling wine’s bright effervescence balanced with lemon tartness and sugary sweetness. The aftertaste then features quite a bit of the wood-tinged flavors of the spirit, giving the whole cocktail an air of having been barrel-aged. 

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: We both thought this version was much more pleasant than the standard gin-based recipe, with the brandy offering a deeper and darker flavor that juxtaposed the brightness of the sparkling wine in a very pleasant way. And even though we’re both huge fans of gin, we’ll most likely be making this variation going forward.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I’ve only had French 75s made with gin, so the Armagnac version was new territory for me, and I dare say I think I liked more. As much as I love gin’s ability to lend great herbal quality to a French 75, the barrel-aged grape spirit brings completely different character to the drink that makes it even better, in my opinion. Like most sparkling wine cocktails, I still felt like this tastes a little too much like the bubbly to differentiate the flavors very much, but I did enjoy this more than the more standard gin version.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“It wasn’t until I read the description of this cocktail in the book that I realized a French 75 could have a brandy base. I’ve also only ever seen gin used, but I’m really glad we went with Armagnac instead. In my opinion, the iterations I’ve had with gin masked the spirit’s unique botanical flavor way too much no matter what brand we used, and the brandy does a much better job of standing out in this recipe. I enjoyed this more complex version of the classic quite a bit and will be requesting it again!”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 3 oz Sparkling Wine
 2 oz Armagnac
 ½ oz Lemon Juice
 ¼ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 1 Lemon Twist

Method
1

Add brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a champagne glass.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Garnish with lemon twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 3 oz Sparkling Wine
 2 oz Armagnac
 ½ oz Lemon Juice
 ¼ oz Homemade Simple Syrup
 1 Lemon Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a champagne glass.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Garnish with lemon twist.

French 75 (Variation)

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Sparkling Wine Cocktails

If you like this sparkling wine cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

 Minute To Midnight: A brandy cocktail made with pear liqueur, Angostura aromatic bitters, dry sparkling wine, and a lemon twist

 Mountaintop Meadow: A vodka cocktail made with elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lavender bitters, dry sparkling wine, a pineapple wedge, and mint

 Pomegranate Gin Fizz: A gin cocktail made with grenadine, sparkling wine, pomegranate seeds, and a Demerara sugar cube

 Nucleus Mimosa: A sparkling wine cocktail made with orange juice, cranberry juice, and a lime slice

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