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French 75

A brief history and recipe.

Published: 30th December 2021

French 75 – a brief history

What’s not to like? Gin and champagne with a touch of lemon and sugar. Decadence in a glass. The French 75 takes its name from the French 75 millimetre field gun, used during WWI. As with most classic cocktails, the history of how this drink came to be is a little unclear. The first printed and named “French 75” recipe containing gin, lemon juice, sugar and Champagne was featured in a New York “Here’s How” book in 1927, created by Judge Jr.  Soon after, it was picked up and printed in the famous Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book” in 1930. It then became a staple in bars all around the world. However, let’s face it, the combination of gin, bitters and sugar has been enjoyed for hundreds of years, so the simple addition of fizz, in reality, would have been enjoyed well before it was officially named in 1927.

The original version of the “Soixante-quinze” (French for 75) appeared around 1915 and actually contained gin, apple brandy, grenadine and lemon juice. It was said to belong to French bartender Henry Tépé, who worked at Henry’s Bar in Paris and the cocktail gained a reputation for being as deadly as the gun itself. It then took on different forms of the “75” over the next decade or so, including containing calvados in Vermeire’s 1922 recipe and absinthe in MacElhone’s 1926 recipe, until it finally appeared as the “French 75” in 1927. Even the glassware changed with the development of the cocktail. The earliest version would have been served in a coupe glass, then changed to a Collins for most of the 20th century until the 1980’s, when Champagne was served in flutes as standard.

Ingredients

Garnish

A twist of lemon

Method

Combine the lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin and shake over ice. Strain into a flute and top up slowly with chilled Champagne or Prosecco. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

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