The French 75 is an elegant, versatile and delicious cocktail. Made with just four ingredients, it's simple to put together and easy to enjoy! It combines fresh lemon with gin and Champagne for a classic combination of flavors.
The French 75 is one of the most popular cocktails in the world! As an American, the name always sounds fancy to me. Actually, though, it is named after a giant field gun that the French used during World War I (the 75mm field gun). The drink was named the French 75 because it really packs a punch, alcohol-wise!
Although the modern standard for the drink calls for gin as the base spirit, it was often made with Cognac when it was first developed in the early 1900s.
For a different spin on this drink, check out my recipe for an Amaretto French 75. Or, this Vodka Champagne cocktail is a similar and also delicious drink. If you prefer vodka to gin, try the French 76 cocktail.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this drink:
- Gin - you can use any gin, but a London Dry style of gin is the gold standard for this drink. I used Highclere Castle gin (link to buy on Drizly).
- Champagne - the recipe calls for true Champagne, but you can make this drink with any sparkling wine. Champagne is a little less sweet than Prosecco and has more of a yeasty flavor. Cava is a great option for this drink too, as it's pretty similar to Champagne in style. Don't break the bank on this one! Look for a non-vintage Champagne like this Laurent-Perrier La Cuve Blend (link to buy on Drizly).
- Lemon Juice - preferably freshly squeezed, so you can use the peel for garnish.
- Simple Syrup - you can use homemade simple syrup, or store bought. The sweetness of this drink will vary based on the type and style of Champagne you use, so you may enjoy a little extra syrup if you're using a Brut (lower in sugar) style of Champagne.
This cocktail is simple, but that means that it can be changed around and switched up depending on how you like it! In fact, lots of different newer classics have come from varying this recipe. Here are some ways to change it up:
- Vodka French 75 (aka French 76) - switch out the gin for for vodka in this spinoff drink. You can garnish with a lemon peel, or use a maraschino cherry at the bottom of the glass instead.
- Elderflower French 75 (aka French 77) - use St Germain elderflower liqueur in place of the simple syrup for this floral take.
- Amaretto French 75 - swap in Amaretto liqueur in place of the simple syrup.
- Grapefruit French 75 - instead of lemon juice, try using fresh grapefruit juice instead. It's a delicious combination!
This cocktail is traditionally shaken with ice before adding the Champagne. Here are the tools you'll need:
- Cocktail shaker and strainer - the standards for cocktail shakers are either a a two-piece Boston shaker with a Hawthorne strainer, or a shaker with a built in strainer called a Cobbler shaker. Either work fine and it depends on your personal preference.
- Fine mesh strainer - optional but recommended to get out large bits of lemon.
- Jigger or small measuring cup.
- Cocktail serving glass - preferably a stemmed glass like a Champagne flute, a white wine glass or a coupe glass.
If you need any new bar equipment, I really love the products from A Bar Above! When you use my discount code, LKDrinks, you can get 10% off your purchase (either for bar products, or for their mixology class!) Their bar tools are really durable, and also can be thrown in the dishwasher when you're done mixing.
Start out by creating your garnish if you're going to use one. To make a long lemon twist like in the photos, cut a large piece of lemon peel. Use a paring knife or an xacto knife to clean up the edges and cut it into a long strip. Then, twist it around the handle of a bar spoon and set it aside while you make the drink.
Start building the drink by adding the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
Add ice to the cocktail shaker and give it a good shake, about 15-20 times, so the drink gets chilled and diluted.
Strain the mixture into your cocktail serving glass. If you can, use both a regular strainer and a fine mesh strainer to get out any leftover lemon bits or ice chips. Then, top the drink with Champagne.
Add the lemon twist garnish to the glass, and serve.
Hint: To keep your drink cold longer, you can chill your glass beforehand. You can place it in a freezer for about 30 minutes, or you can add an ice-and-water mixture to the glass for a few minutes while you make the drink. Discard the mixture just before pouring the drink.
Frequently Asked Questions
Despite its elegant look, the French 75 is a pretty strong drink. It depends on the ratio and amounts of gin and Champagne that you use, but my recipe is around 16% alcohol by volume (ABV). It's stronger than Champagne itself, but not as strong as a Martini.
The French 75 is meant to be citrusy and dry, with some herbal notes from the gin. It is pretty light and crisp, but it does pack a punch, and is stronger than Champagne alone.
The French 75 is typically served in a Champagne flute. It is not served with ice, so it should be served in a stemmed glass. That way, your hand won't warm up the drink too fast.
Top tip - DIY cocktail station for a party
A French 75 is a fun drink to set up for a do-it-yourself cocktail station. You can even have a container of orange juice available so your guests can choose whether to make this or a Mimosa!
To set it up, about an hour before the party, juice your lemons and mix together the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a pitcher. Add in about ½ ounce of filtered water per cocktail, and chill in the fridge until you're ready to set up.
To set up your cocktail station, fill a bucket or cooler with ice. Set your pitcher of pre-made cocktail mix along with an opened bottle of Champagne onto the ice. Add a printed sign with the cocktail recipe, and set up your serving glasses next to the bucket for your guests to grab. Cheers!
- 1 Fine mesh strainer (optional but recommended)
- 1 Knife and cutting board (if using fresh citrus)
- 1 Citrus juicer (if using fresh citrus)
- 1 Vegetable peeler (optional - for lemon peel garnish)
- 1 Xacto knife (optional - for garnish)
- 1 Citrus channel knife (optional - instead of vegetable peeler and xacto knife)
- lemon peel
- 1½ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup (if you like sweeter drinks, add ¾ ounce)
- 2 ounces Champagne
- Use a vegetable peeler or a citrus channel knife to cut a long, thin strip of lemon peel. Clean up the peel's edges with an xacto knife if you used a vegetable peeler.
- Wrap the lemon peel strip around something long and thin, like a bar spoon handle, and set aside while you make the drink.
- Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake well, about 15-20 times.
- Strain the drink through a regular strainer and a fine mesh strainer into the cocktail serving glass.
- Pour the Champagne into the serving glass.
- Add the lemon peel garnish and serve.