French 75

Master bartender Chris McMillian of the Library Lounge in New Orleans continues his excellent video series with a World War I-era classic.

It’s supposedly named after a piece of artillery, the French 75mm howitzer, as a reference to the drink’s kick. One story has it being created by Raoul Lufbery, a French-American WWI pilot who wanted Champagne but also wanted a bigger kick, then added Cognac. Chris relates a story that supposedly Arnaud Cazenave (founder of Arnaud’s Restaurant in New Orleans) created it before he came to New Orleans from France, or perhaps just popularized it in the city (which is a lot more likely).

There’s a bone of contention over the recipe of this drink, with some claiming that it’s a brandy drink, and even making Cognac connections from France to New Orleans in describing an appropriate lineage. The consensus seems to be that this is properly a gin-based cocktail, even though if you go to the French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter (one of my favorite bars) you’ll get it with Cognac.

Chris makes them a bit sweeter than I like. Here’s the way I prefer it.

The French 75

1-1/2 ounces gin.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
2 barspoons simple syrup.

Combine the first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a Champagne flute, and top with Champagne. It may also be served over ice in a Collins glass.