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Ooh La La! It’s the French 75 Cocktail

Shake up cocktail hour with a classic, yet simple, cocktail whose origins have been debated for over a century.

Autumn Micketti

Mar 12, 2024

From the trenches of World War I to the smoky bars of Paris, the French 75 cocktail boasts a long and fascinating history. Yet, the origins of this delightfully fizzy beverage are still unknown, although many claim to be its creators.

One of the potential makers was famed British barman Harry MacElhone, who ran the acclaimed New York Bar in Paris in 1915, a famous watering hole that hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, and Jack Dempsey. Amongst the many drinks mixed by MacElhone, one was a mélange of gin, absinthe, calvados, and grenadine. It's this potent tonic that could have led us to the French 75 of today. However, it's more likely that MacElhone only came up with a variant.

Worth the effort

On the frontlines of WWI, soldiers imbibed a mixture of gin, grenadine, applejack, and lemon juice served in empty cartridge shells. This unique cocktail vessel was most likely salvaged from the French field guns, primarily used in WWI and described as "merciless" by the Chicago Tribune in 1914. The use of cartridge shells from the French 75 mm field gun is most likely where the name originated.

Travel further back to the mid-19th century, and we find Charles Dickens serving his favorite gin cocktail, "Tom gin and champagne cups", that mixed sparkling wine, citrus, and ice with Tom gin.

We may never know the true origins of the French 75, but we do know that it's delicious, and as easy as it is to drink, it's almost easier to make.

French 75

French 75

clock iconPrep Time: 5 minutesTotal Time: 5 minutes
serving size iconSERVINGSserving size iconserving size icon

Equipment

  • Cocktail shaker

Ingredients

Instructions

    1
  • Add ice, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Shake until well chilled.
  • 2
  • Strain into a Champagne flute.
  • 3
  • Top with white wine.
  • 4
  • Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!

AUTHOR

Autumn Micketti Headshot