Wednesday is New Year’s Eve and now that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners are out of the way we can focus on what’s really important – cocktails for New Year’s Eve!
While straight champagne served up in a flute is the standard choice for New Year’s, there’s no rule book that says you can’t spice it up. Besides, a party isn’t a party without a few choices, right? In the past I’ve made a Kir Royale, a Black Velvet, and a Champagne Cocktail. But this year I decided to make a cocktail I’ve been wanting to mix up for ages – the French 75.
You’re probably wondering why I held off on posting the French 75 if I wanted to make it so badly. Well, seeing as how it’s a champagne cocktail, I wanted to save it for a holiday worthy of champagne, and there’s no holiday more worthy than New Year’s Eve.
As with a lot of the cocktails I post, this one has a hazy background. It’s so hazy in fact that there’s even a discrepancy over what kind of alcohol is mixed with the champagne. Depending on which bartender you talk to, some will say cognac is the main liqueur while others will insist it’s gin. (Up until recently, I’d only ever had a French 75 with gin.) Either way it’s going to have way more punch than your standard flute of champagne.
Since the type of alcohol included in the cocktail is up for debate, you can be sure its origins are as well. The cocktail first appeared in 1927 during the height of Prohibition, but wasn’t famous until it showed up in that 30’s classic the Savoy Cocktail Book. There’s one small problem with these origins though, Charles Dickens supposedly enjoyed many a French 75 when he visited the states back in the late 1860’s. Of course they weren’t called French 75’s when he was imbibing them. Back then they were called Champagne Cups. So that’s the age of the cocktail, then there’s its name. The moniker supposedly came from a WWI French-American pilot who felt there just wasn’t enough kick to a straight glass of champagne. He asked for the gin addition and was handed the wallop he desired. He said the cocktail packed such a wallop in fact, it felt like he had been shot by a French 75mm howitzer, and the name stuck. And everyone knows as long as the drink is tasty, a name can make or break a cocktail.
I mean, how can you resist tasting something as intriguing as a French 75. I know I can’t, which is why I’m pretty sure I’ll be consuming them for the next several decades. And while it’s true we may save champagne cocktails like these for special occasions or holidays, I’m pretty sure the French 75 will still be at the top of every New Year’s Eve cocktail menu 150 years from now.
- 2 oz gin
- 1 teaspoon super fine sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- 5 0z. champagne
- Combine the gin, sugar and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.
- Strain into a champagne flute and top with the champagne. Serve immediately.