I usually have a BIG problem with people calling something the “best this” or the “best that.” But this French 75 recipe truly makes the best French 75 cocktail. The secret lies in infusing the cocktail with even more lemon than usual.

What is a French 75?

The French 75, or at least the one we know today, is a bright and refreshing boozy champagne cocktail. Boozier than your standard mimosa brunch cocktail, the French 75 is still very acceptable to drink before noon, at least in my opinion.

Today, the 75 is made by combining gin (or cognac), fresh lemon juice and simple syrup in a Champagne flute and topping it off with sparkling wine. 

Where was the French 75 Invented?

It’s believed that the French 75 was invented at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France back in 1915. The French 75 is one of many classic cocktails to come out of that bar including the Sidecar, Bloody Mary and Monkey Gland.

The original cocktail was much boozier than the one often served today. The name is meant to compare the kick of the bozzy drink to feeling like you got shelled with a French 75mm field gun. The original drink was made with gin, apple brandy, grenadine and lemon juice.

champagne flutes filled with light-yellow drink

What Makes This The “Best” French 75?

My version stays very true to the traditional cocktail by still featuring gin, lemon juice and a simple syrup. However, instead of a basic simple syrup I up the ante by making a lemon simple syrup.

To make the lemon simple syrup I use the “spent” lemon halves to infuse the simple syrup. To do this, the lemon halves are simmered with the sugar (or honey) and water for a couple of minutes. After that, the mixture is removed from heat and the lemons steep in the syrup until it’s completely cooled.

French 75 For a Crowd

Planning for a crowd and don’t want to be pouring drinks all night? Consider making a big batch of French 75s. 

To make 8 servings in advance: combine 1 ½ cups gin, 1 cup fresh lemon juice, and ½ cup simple syrup in a pitcher. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, pour 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) of the cocktail into a champagne flute. Top with 2–3 ounces sparkling wine.

Test Kitchen Tip

It’s best to make the simple syrup ahead of time so it can chilled before being served. Likewise, chill the lemon juice and gin if you can.

Alternatively, if you haven’t chilled the ingredients, you can shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour it into a champagne flute and topping with sparkling wine.

How to Make a Lemon Twist

Want to impress your guests with a fancy garnish on their cocktail rim? Adding a lemon twist is a simple way to bring the “wow-factor”.

  • Use a vegetable peeler and remove a three to four inch portion of lemon peel.
  • Slice the lemon peel into strips by running a paring knife lengthwise down the peel.
  • Twist the lemon peel around your finger or a straw to create a spiral.
  • Garnish as desired (on the rim of a glass, dropped in a cocktail, to top a cake, etc.).

You can also use a channeling knife which is traditional, and I think, easier!

champagne flutes filled with light-yellow drink

Variations of the French 75 Drink

  • French 76: essentially the French 75 made with vodka instead of gin.
  • French 77 is a riff on the classic, using St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) instead of gin and skipping the simple syrup altogether. 
  • French 75 with cognac: also called “Arnaud’s French 75” or “French 125.” To make this, swap the gin out for cognac. 
  • French Harvest: instead of topping with champagne, top with dry sparkling apple cider.

More Cocktail Recipes to Try

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champagne flutes filled with light-yellow drink

Best French 75 Cocktail

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cool time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (+ 1 ½ cups simple syrup or enough for 24 cocktails) 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: French

Description

A light, effervescent, citrusy cocktail fit for any kind of celebration.


Ingredients

Scale

French 75 Cocktail 

  • 1 ½ ounces dry gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½¾ ounce lemon simple syrup (see below)
  • 23 ounces dry sparkling wine
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Lemon Simple Syrup

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar or honey
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

French 75 Cocktail

  1. Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.

Lemon Simple Syrup

  1. Juice two lemons; set juice aside for cocktail. Add 4 juiced lemon halves to a small saucepan and add 1 cup granulated sugar or honey and 1 cup water.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat and cook 2 minutes; remove from heat and let steep until cooled completely.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids.

Notes

It’s best to make the simple syrup ahead of time so it can chilled before being served. Likewise, chill the lemon juice and gin if you can.

Alternatively, if you haven’t chilled the ingredients, you can shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice before pouring it into a champagne flute and topping with sparkling wine.

Keywords: french 75, french 75 drink, french 75 cocktail

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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