There are few fresher cocktails to toast with than a French 75. With only four ingredients, the libation is a relatively simple one to prepare too. All the equipment you need is a cocktail shaker, some ice cubes, and a few Champagne flutes to serve.
Those four staple ingredients are chilled sparkling wine, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a relatively dry or lightweight gin. The dryness or lightness of the gin is key to blending with the citrus notes of the lemon juice.
Gin has had a renaissance and you may have a go-to bottle that works especially well with your favorite tonic.
That may not mean the gin works well in this simple to make, yet complexly flavored cocktail. If the gin lacks that essential dryness or its own flavors dominate then the cocktail simply fails to shine as well as it should.
Though you can try your own twist on a cocktail, the guidance on a French 75 is that a dry or lightweight gin works best. With the right dry gin and a suitably chilled sparkling wine, there are exciting botanical flavors to enjoy.
This can be a stunning cocktail with a balanced sweet yet sour flavor that impresses with a great gin.
Best For A London Dry Gin
The tried and tested recipe for Beefeater Gin dates back to 1863 yet barely needs changing. This is a formidably true-tasting gin that should be a staple in your liquor cabinet. The botanicals also work well with a French 75.
Citrus notes of Seville oranges and lemon peel partner up with the lemon juice and peel garnish which we liked in our testing.
Count on the juniper-forward taste to sit well in your cocktail yet allow the sparkling wine to play around with that too. That profile also includes almonds, coriander seeds, as well as licorice to sneak through and add a bit of depth.
Expect Beefeater Gin to stand its ground, as you would think so with such a classic, long-lasting recipe.
- Juniper-Forward – Hearty, full juniper flavors that stand up yet do not dominate in a French 75
- Clean Taste – Enjoy the clean taste of this classic gin to accompany your mixers
- Citrus Notes – The balanced flavor includes citrus notes to complement a peel garnish
- Dated Look – With so many new and exciting gins, Beefeater’s bottle design can look comparably dated
Also available from Drizly
Best For Lightweight Texture
A French 75 is ideal for a toast and keeping the cocktail light is a great way of letting the sparkling wine galvanize the taste buds. Damrak Gin is from The Netherlands and subtlety is key in their recipe.
The lightweight texture is ideal for a French 75 as it sits comfortably with the sparkling wine and lemon juice, which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.
When the flavors of the gin do come through you can expect floral and fruity notes that brighten up your palate. This is also a wonderfully smooth gin that can work wonders in a French 75 due to the inclusion of a sparkling wine like Champagne(see also: Champagne vs Sparkling Wine).
For a refreshing, easygoing take on a French 75, choose a lightweight gin, and Damrak nails the brief.
- Lightweight Texture – For a gin that will let the sparkling wine shine, the lightweight texture works well here
- Bright, Floral Flavors – When the taste of Damrak gin comes though, you can enjoy floral and bright notes
- Refreshing – To provide a toast, the refreshing taste of the gin works really well
- Too Lightweight – While great for a French 75, this could be considered a lightweight gin
Best For Adding Complexity
Maybe you want a gin to tone down on the juniper to let some other flavors in. Tanqueray (see also: Tanqueray Gin Review)Ten is a modern twist on a flagship bottle that can add a welcome complexity to a French 75.
This new variation adds a few more botanicals to its formula including orange, white grapefruit, and even chamomile for added interest.
If you wanted a gin to provide less juniper in exchange for rounding out the lemon then this is the one for you. The citrus undertone is key to enhancing that lemon juice and simple syrup while letting the sparkling wine provide the bubbles.
Even while mixed, you can still savor a full-bodied character and subtle complex flavor profile. This is also a versatile gin that will work well with several mixers, which we liked in our testing.
- Citrus Undertone – Using whole citrus fruits like orange, lime, and white grapefruit gives the gin a delightful citrus undertone
- Full-Bodied – Those whole fruits also deliver a full-bodied character
- Versatile – From the “Tiny Ten” copper pot still, you can expect a unique yet incredibly versatile flavor
- High ABV – The gin comes in at 47.3% which is considerable
Best For Rich Honey Tones
Considering that a French 75 includes simple syrup, you may want to lean into that lushness with raw honey notes. That is what you would get with Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin which uses local honey from Vermont as part of its unique flavor.
Baking spices become sweet with warm honey and then turn bright thanks to the lemon juice. This produces a bouncing, buoyant taste which we liked in our testing.
You may have a thing for brown liquors so Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin may distort the color of your French 75, which is something to be wary of. However, the gin works remarkably well in that classic cocktail and is barrel-aged for six months.
That robustness and deep flavor are great with some bubbles, ideal for a toast in the holiday season.
- Bold, Robust Character – A unique flavor profile is involved in this gin with baking spices and cloves alongside citrus notes
- Raw Honey – Local honey from Vermont brings a warming, rich taste
- Barrel-Aged – The gin is barrel-aged for robustness and brings a bold flavor
- Brown Color – The local raw honey works really well yet the brown color may tinge the appearance of a French 75
Best For A Balanced French 75
Anyone that knows their gin can spot the distinctive blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin. This is a gin that is also ideal for a French 75 with the right elements to add real character to the libation.
Exquisite notes of spice and citrus boosted by botanicals can add great balance which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.
While some gins can pretty much disappear in a French 75, Bombay Sapphire stands up amidst the lemon juice and sparkling wine. Though vapor infusion may seem like the flavors should be lacking, they are delicate yet distinctive here.
If you truly want to bring out the lemon without losing any complexity then trust this renowned London Dry Gin.
- Vapor Infusion – By using a vapor infusion, each drop of this gin picks up the flavors from the botanicals for a distinctive profile
- Delicate Balance of Flavors – From slight spice to the forward notes of citrus and earthy angelica, there is an intrinsic balance at work
- Citrus And Spice – Ten hand-selected botanicals are involved in this gin and you can really grab the citrus and spice notes
- Relatively Simple Gin – This is a tested formula that may seem simple amongst other complex gins
There are only four staple ingredients to a French 75 yet there is still remarkable room to play with. The sparkling wine can be one point of discussion as Champagne, Prosecco or Cava can all be used and impress in their own right.
That choice of sparkling wine may largely depend on your budget yet each one brings its own unique properties which need to be considered. Even the simple syrup can be enhanced with a vanilla pod or lemon juice to bring out a richer flavor.
The gin base is also a key component of the cocktail. To work well with the lemon juice, you require a gin that has numerous citrus notes. As it is gin, you are going to find juniper yet that can be quietened down by several botanicals that go into the mix.
There could be spices, licorice, almond, floral notes, or even honey for a complex flavor profile.
If there is a general rule for which gin to pick, it would be a dry gin but not overly dry. Beefeater works well, as does Bombay Sapphire for London Dry Gins.
There is also Hendrick’s for more rose and cucumber notes if you prefer that to the typical taste that you can expect of juniper.
For a truly stupendous French 75, you should opt for a dry gin. A classic, tested take on the cocktail would typically call for a London Dry Gin such as Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire. The dryness combines well with the lightness of the sparkling wine to provide a welcome contrast.
That carbonation can act to pull those gin flavors to the top of the glass so you may want to resist heavy juniper tones. Of course, you will always get hints of juniper to remind you that you have included gin yet it should not dominate.
There should be some light flavors in the gin such as botanicals but also some spice or honey for complexity.
When picking a gin, you want to find one that includes juniper as part of its profile yet also boasts some citrus notes. These should bring out the tang of the lemon juice and peel garnish while adding to the lightness of the sparkling wine.
Certain gins have used whole fruits or vapor infusion to really enhance their citrus notes. That includes lemon, lime, and even grapefruit which pairs well with a French 75.
Most gins are clear which owes a lot to the production process that has been tried and tested for decades. However, there are more recent gins that are shaking it up. For instance, Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin has a bold brown color which owes a lot to the rich, local honey that they include.
While that may sit well on your shelf, the color can distort a French 75 though the flavor is something to behold.
You can buy your simple syrup in the store yet as the only two ingredients are sugar and water you really should make it yourself. Though it only needs five minutes on the stove, you do need to prepare ahead to ensure it cools down in time.
Simple syrup largely gets its name because it is so simple to make.
The cocktail sweetener is equal parts water and granulated sugar so if you want enough for a party use half a cup of each. Add both the sugar and water to a small-sized saucepan and place over a medium heat.
Stir the sugar until it dissolves, then let it cool in the pan and pour into a container that can be sealed tightly. Simple syrup can then be stored in your refrigerator, ideally in a sterilized jar or bottle where it can keep for a month.
You could also try to make your cocktails even sweeter with rich simple syrup which uses two parts sugar to one part water. White sugar works best for a French 75 though the cocktail ingredient can also include demerara sugar for a bolder, richer taste.
If you wanted to go even further, throw in a few spices like cinnamon or ginger, or even a slice of lemon for your French 75. For truly remarkable (though less) simple syrup a vanilla pod or jalapeño slice for providing a real flavor boost.
If you want the sparkling wine to do the hard work in your French 75 then choose a vapor-distilled gin that has a more delicate flavor. For truly memorable toasts, you should be using Champagne, in which case you should be looking for a gin with a lighter profile.
That way the Champagne gets the recognition while the gin base offers support. You can always add your own twist to a French 75 and Tanqueray No. Ten with Cava should work well together.
This is largely to the more citrus-flavored notes that can really shine with a sparkling wine other than Champagne.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Make A French 75 Cocktail?
The French 75 cocktail is a refreshing, punchy libation that you can bring out to toast or simply enjoy in the sunshine. For one serving you will need one and a half ounces of gin, three-quarters of an ounce each of lemon juice, and simple syrup with two to three ounces of chilled sparkling wine.
Champagne works well though you can try Cava or Prosecco but make sure you have enough to top the Champagne flute.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice then pour in your gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Tap the shaker cap back on and ensure it is a tight fit then shake vigorously until the shaker is cold to the touch. This should take about twenty seconds, at which point your French 75 should be well combined.
Strain the mixture into your Champagne flutes then top with Champagne or the sparkling wine of your choice. For a simple garnish, twist a slice of lemon peel and hold it in that shape for a couple of seconds.
Why Is It Called A French 75?
The cocktail first came to be known in the late 1920s and was then popularized in the 1930s and 1940s. This was a time when cocktails came to the fore and it was also a time bracketed by two world wars.
The specific origins of the French 75 are from Paris (as you may expect), at the New York Bar when it was reportedly created by Harry MacElhone.
The name itself comes from the early variations where the use of punchy ingredients such as lemon juice, gin, and sparkling wine was said to have a kick like an artillery.
Such a kick that it was likened to 75mm field guns which were used by the French in the First World War, notably the Canon de 75 modèle 1897.
For your own twist, you could change the citrus juice from lemon to clementine, blood orange, or pink grapefruit. Each ingredient for this cocktail needs to be picked for what it brings to a French 75 and none should dominate.
Select your gin, sparkling wine, and citrus juice for your own take on a classic cocktail. A French 75 is best enjoyed as a toast at a birthday celebration or a wedding.
The use of sparkling wine and lemon juice give it a light, fruitful flavor which can really shine in spring or summer.