It’s true. This is a drink named after a gun. A big gun. And there is actually a second drink also named after the same weapon. The French 75-mm field howitzer artillery piece, model of 1897, was the first technical weaponry advance of the twentieth century. It was the primary force of World War I and continued its popularity through World War II. (I feel sure there are several cocktails of which Nicky and I have indulged which also have proven to be a large weaponry advances of some type.)
The drink was introduced in 1915 by Harry MacElohone in Paris at Harry’s New York Bar, and later gained popularity in America at The Stork Club. The drink is pretty much forgotten except in New York.
The name is well earned. Like its namesake, the French 75 is a smooth operator that packs quite a punch. You will never see this one coming until it is too late and you are hit. There are so many champagne cocktails where the champagne is either masked, or overpowered by sweet tones. This is not the case here. The French 75 is fresh, simple, but with some changes or layers as it warms up and opens up. That is, if you give it that opportunity.
Various bar guides have mistakenly called for brandy/cognac instead of gin. A brandy version did follow in New Orleans at Arnaud’s at the owner’s insistence. To quote Robert “Drinkboy” Hess: “Some people claim this drink should use cognac instead of gin. Those people would be wrong.” We have to agree.
The French 75
2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
2 t sugar, or 1 t simple syrup
Mix all ingredients except champagne in an iced cocktail shaker. Pour into a tall Collins or Zombie glass, or champagne flute. Top with champagne and stir gently. Garnish with a long, thin lemon spiral and cocktail cherry.