Get ready for a truly delicious experience with the classic French 76 cocktail. This cocktail is the perfect balance of tart and sweet! A combination of vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne, it's light, crisp, and satisfying - a great choice for any special occasion or just to enjoy on its own.
A French 76 is a variation on a classic French 75 cocktail, made with vodka instead of gin. The gin version dates back to World War I, dating back to 1915 when it was first served at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. The original drink was named after a powerful field gun used in the war, and the drink lives up to its name, giving us quite a kick from the alcohol.
If you liked this drink, try making the Italian 75 using vodka instead of gin! It's a little bit sweeter version using Limoncello. Looking for even more ideas? Try my Lavender Vodka Cocktail or this Vodka Champagne cocktail for a similar and also delicious drink.
- Vodka - I used Neft Vodka, which was gifted by the brand. Another great and reasonably priced vodka is Tito's Vodka.
- Lemon juice - go for freshly squeezed lemon juice to get the best flavor.
- Simple syrup - you can use homemade simple syrup, or a store-bought syrup. 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.
- Champagne - A non-vintage Champagne like this Laurent-Perrier La Cuve Blend is a great option.
- Maraschino cherry - add this to the bottom of your serving glass as an optional (but tasty) garnish. You can also choose to use a lemon twist instead.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Vodka - some of the best substitutions for vodka are gin (making this cocktail a French 75), white rum, or tequila.
- Champagne - a popular replacement for Champagne is Prosecco. Or, a different kind of dry sparkling wine like Cava or Espumante also work wonderfully.
- Simple syrup - you can easily substitute in maple syrup or agave nectar.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Keto Friendly French 76 - it's fairly easy to make this into a keto-friendly drink. Just switch out the simple syrup for a syrup made with a sugar free sweetener. Also, make sure you're using a Brut style of Champagne or sparkling wine, since that will naturally have little to no sugar. You can use store bought sugar free syrup, or you can find more info on how to make your own in my How to Make Simple Syrup post.
- Virgin French 76 - if you're avoiding alcohol, you can use an alcohol substitute in place of the hard stuff. For a natural option, mix together tonic water and apple cider vinegar. For a spiritless zero proof alternative, Clean Co Clean V or Seedlip Spice will offer great flavor. And for the bubbles, here's all of the best reviewed non-alcoholic Champagne on Amazon.
- Different flavor - try adding blackberry or cherry jam to your cocktail shaker, or use a simple vanilla syrup for a fun and equally tasty variation on this drink.
This simple 4 ingredient cocktail needs only a couple of bar tools. For mixing, you'll need a jigger, a cocktail shaker and a strainer. Optionally, grab a fine mesh strainer to make sure no lemon pulp gets into the drink.
For your serving glass, either a traditional champagne flute or a coupe glass is perfect for this cocktail. If you're using a cherry garnish, you can also skewer it on a cocktail pick instead of adding it directly to the glass.
To start, prep your serving glass by adding a maraschino cherry to the bottom. (Or, add the cherry to a cocktail pick and add it to the top of the glass at the end.)
Set the glass aside and add the vodka and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker.
Add simple syrup to the cocktail shaker, and then fill it up with ice.
Shake everything up, and strain into your serving glass. You can use a regular strainer, or pass it through an additional fine mesh strainer to get out more of the lemon pulp.
Then, top it off with chilled Champagne, and serve.
Hint: To keep your drink cold longer, you can chill the glass beforehand. 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 liquid just before you pour in the drink.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most notable difference between a French 75 and a French 76 is the main spirit type. A French 75 is made with gin, while a French 76 is made with vodka. Both cocktails are mixed with lemon juice, simple syrup and then topped with champagne.
A French 76 (and all other versions of this cocktail with different numbers at the end!) was named after the classic French 75. The name is based on a World War I field gun, and how like the gun, the cocktail packs a punch in the alcohol department. The French 76 uses vodka instead of gin.
Top tip- DIY cocktail station
A French 76 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 vodka, lemon juice, and sugar syrup in a pitcher. Add 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 the 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!
- Fine mesh strainer (optional)
- Knife and cutting board (if using fresh lemon)
- Citrus juicer (if using fresh lemon)
- Prep your serving glass by adding a maraschino cherry to the bottom. (Or add the cherry to a cocktail pick and add it to the top of the glass at the end.)
- Add the vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake with ice and strain into your serving glass.
- Top with Champagne and serve.