If you love a classic gin and tonic, you’ll probably be interested in this floral gin and champagne cocktail, known as a French 75. It’s a dry gin drink with a smidge of simple syrup, a bit of fresh lemon juice and a splash of champagne (though a gin prosecco combo or other sparkling wine would work well too). Use good gin for this smooth summer sipper.
A few months ago, I started making my own French 75s at home using cognac — and loved them. I’d had this style in New Orleans and thought they were elegant and flavorful without being cloying, however, I’d also heard that the more popular and well known version wasn’t made with Cognac at all, but rather with gin. I had to investigate.
Good Gin Drinks
I first got “into” good gin drinks a few summers ago when I took a craft cocktail class and got a first hand look at how a craft bartender approaches a cocktail. No detail is spared from the custom simple syrups to the glassware the drinks are served in, right up to and including the garnish. There’s something sophisticated about the pride and attention to detail that goes into making these libations. This gin and champagne cocktail is no exception.
Ingredients For Gin French 75
- Good Quality Gin
- Simple Syrup
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Twist
Gin and Champagne Cocktail (what brand of gin to use)
This version of the French 75 uses gin. Good gin. I know. “Good” is a subjective thing… You should use what you like, however, for a standout libation, our personal favorite is Hendrick’s Gin for its herbal, botanical notes and very smooth finish.
Making Simple Syrup
Simple Syrup is an essential ingredient for many cocktails. It’s a sweetener and can be flavored like this rhubarb ginger variation or my favorite guava one, however, for this tidy gin and champagne cocktail, stick with the basic 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.
- In a saucepan combine equal parts water and sugar.
- Heat over medium high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the simple syrup to a glass storage container with a tight fitting lid.
Use simple syrup in drinks to slightly sweeten and mellow the flavors without adding the grit of a teaspoon of sugar.
To Make These Dry Gin Drinks – Start With The Garnish
This might sound counterintuitive, but you’ll need lemon juice and a twist of lemon for this recipe — and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get that twist from a whole lemon than one that’s already been juiced. Before you start blending the gin and champagne cocktail, get out your zester and use the channel tool to scrape a long, thin peel of the rind for the garnish. Set the peel aside, then juice the lemon.
Bitters are alcohol, flavored with herbs and other plant elements. First derived for medicinal and digestive purposes, bitters took on new importance with the rise in craft cocktails. While digestive bitters are traditionally sipped at the end of a meal (think Campari), tincture bitters are used in very small doses in cocktails and food. Check out this article “What The Heck Are Bitters” for more on the subject.
For your dry gin drinks, you can use common Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s, a New Orleans favorite or your favorite specialty or homemade bitters.
Other Types Of Bubbly You Can Use
All champagne is sparkling wine, however, not all sparkling wine is champagne. Why? Champagne has to come from the champagne region in France to get that designation. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use French champagne in this “gin and champagne” cocktail. And to be honest, I don’t.
This is a personal preference, but to me, using really good French champagne is kind of a waste when you’re mixing a cocktail. The Veuve Clicquot on the left can run between $40 and $50/bottle. Consequently, when I DO pop a cork on a good bottle, I want to enjoy it for all the things it’s special for, not blend it with other ingredients. The Kirkland Prosecco (above) is a very good sparkling wine for under $10. You can also use a Spanish Cava, Cremant De Bourgogne (another French sparkling wine that happens to be from the region adjacent to the Champagne region) or any other type of good drinkable bubbly. Just look for “Brut” on the label for the driest sparkler.
Check out the video to see how to make this classic gin drink:
The Gin French 75 is much more floral and light than the cognac French 75 cocktail and I think that makes it a perfect late Spring and Summer cocktail. This would be a great welcoming drink for an alfresco get together on the patio. Put on your favorite Pandora channel, sip, mingle and enjoy!
Appetizers To Nibble With Your Cocktail:
- Veal and Pork Country Pate
- Prosciutto and Date Palmiers
- Smoked Salmon Chevre Pizza
- Savory Mushroom Tartlets
- Accras De Morue
You May Also Like These Sparkling Wine Cocktails:
- Cognac French 75
- Bloody Champagne Bellini
- Champagne Passion Fruit Cocktail
- Ruby Thyme Spritzer
- Sparkling Elderflower Prosecco Cocktail with Honey Syrup
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French 75 - with Gin
- 1 cup ice
- 1 1/2 ounces gin I used Hendrick's
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 drops bitters
- 2 ounces sparkling wine
- 1 long, thin strip lemon peel (use a zester) for garnish
- Add the ice to a cocktail shaker. Pour in the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters.
- Secure the lid tightly and shake vigorously until the outside of the cocktail shaker is frosty and cold. Strain the cocktail into a flute glass and top with sparkling wine. Drop the lemon into the glass and serve.
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