Today is Part 1 of our 3-part Fall Party Series, and we’re serving up French 75s! She’s a beauty but she also packs quite the punch with herbal gin, citrusy lemon, effervescent Brut Champagne, and ginger-flavored bitters. À votre santé!
Sunday Funday, WHOOP! I don’t know about you guys, but just learning that phrase (ohhhh sometime in college) was the greatest. Those two little words have magical guilt-erasing power right up there with made with love, which has zero calories. And both are clearly 100% true AF, obviously, so you go right ahead and make Sunday a fun day with French 75s, k? Plus, champagne is gluten free, dairy free, and fat free, so we’re all winning at this whole fun thing, amiright?
If you follow along here, you already know this is Part 1 of the 3-part fall recipe series I promised here. If not, let’s catch you up to speed. I love fall, it’s true! I had my mom, sisters, nieces, and a dear friend over for a weekend lunch party to celebrate all things fall and each other. The recipes were a success, so I figured why not do a 3-part series featuring them in case you want to throw your own fall party.
First up, cocktail hour, and we’re serving French 75s. What do French 75s have to do with fall? Well, I’ll get there, but first, let’s break this magical cocktail down. French 75s are primarily made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and champagne, but we’re leaving out the sugar and adding our own little spin on this classic cocktail to incorporate fall.
French 75s History
French 75s date back to World War I. Harry MacElhone created this cocktail at the New York bar in Paris, naming it after the French 75mm field gun, commonly used in WWI. It’s very similar to a Tom Collins, replacing carbonated water with champagne. Don’t be deceived by this cocktail’s pretty, bubbly appearance though. She’s packed with a punch and that’s exactly why she was named after the French 75mm field gun: taking a sip is like taking a hit right in the gut! You can ease up on the gin if you like, but truthfully, this cocktail is perfect as is. Refreshing as hell, herbal from the gin, tart from the citrus, and oh-so effervescent!
I typically reach for Brut Champagne, but that’s because I prefer a dryer Champagne (and cocktail). If you prefer sweeter, you can add sugar (which is traditionally used), or use a sweeter Champagne. I’ve listed different options below in order of sweetness (dry to sweet):
- Brut Nature
- Extra Brut
- Extra Dry
For reference, Brut Nature has zero added sugar while Doux can have over 2 teaspoons added sugar per glass.
In my humble opinion, the trick to this cocktail is the gin. Technically, gin is juniper-flavored vodka. If you’ve ever had gin and thought it tasted like a Christmas Tree, it’s because of the juniper berries. London Dry style gins emphasize the juniper taste with a hint of citrus (think Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater). While I enjoy this style of gin, it’s not what we want for this cocktail.
We’re looking for a gin that emphasizes other aromatics like herbal botanicals with a minimized juniper bite, such as Hendrick’s Gin. Hendrick’s is one of my all-time favs. Hendrick’s distills in tiny batches of 500 litres using 11 botanicals:
- Orris Root
Finally, their gin is infused with rose and cucumbers. Yum or yum? If you want to fall down an internet gin hole, check out their site. It’s as delightful as their gin tastes.
Lemon Juice & Sugar
For a gal who tries to grow her own lemons indoors (in Wisconsin), I obviously prefer fresh-squeezed lemon juice. French 75s traditionally use sugar or simple syrup, but as I mentioned before, I think these are great without the sugar. However, add it if you prefer something sweeter. This your Sunday Funday, afterall.
It being fall and all I had to put a little spin on this cocktail. To me, this is where things get extra fun. But before that, a little confession: I have a slight obsession with bitters. I’m even part of the Bitters Club. My sister and I joined this summer, but you’ll have to head to Nelson’s Hall on Washington Island if you also want to join.
Never heard of bitters? Bitters are a neutral spirit infused with any number of aromatics. I could write an entire post on bitters (and probably will), but for now, all you need to know is that they pack a lot of flavor into a tiny jar, so all you need is a few drops. Perhaps my favorite bitters (so far) are made by Bittercube Bitters. They have so many different and creative flavors. Not only were they developed in my home state of WI (whoop), but they are also created by hand with naturally sourced ingredients. Basically, I’m preeeeetttty sure they created them specifically for me. They didn’t, of course, but it feels that way, so just let me have this moment, K?
For my fall French 75s, I used their Jamaican #1 bitters. The flavor profile includes allspice, ginger, and black pepper. PERFECT! If you can’t find bitters, you can skip it. You can find Bittercube Bitters here, but they are currently distributed in over 25 states, so check with your local liquor store.
The traditional garnish is a lemon twist. I stuck with the lemon twist but also added some candied ginger, because hello, this is a cocktail for our fall party!
Finally, aside from all of the aforementioned awesome reasons to serve this cocktail, I went with French 75s because I knew they would pair lovely with French Onion Soup. French Onion Soup is warm (duh), so I wanted something cool in comparison. Because of the herbal botanicals and aromatics, it wouldn’t be too light or overwhelmed by the soup. The bubbles and acidity would cut the rich, melty cheese. Oh, and I plain and simply love them both. Honestly, it’s mere coincidence they both have origins in Paris (well, at least the modern version of French Onion Soup), but it’s a fun coincidence at that.
Alright, I hope you enjoyed Part 1 and up next, we’re talking sooooouuuuppp.
À votre santé!
- 1 1/2 ounces herbal gin such as Hendrick’s
- 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 dropper Jamaican #1 Bittercube bitters
- 5 ounces Brut Champagne
- Lemon twist garnish
- Candied ginger garnish
- Add all ingredients except champagne and garnishes to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into champagne flute.
- Top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist and candied ginger.