With New Year’s Eve looming heavily over the end of the week, I thought it was time to call out my favorite champagne cocktail. In fact, I’d argue this is the best champagne cocktail, full stop. Yes, there are a lot of them out there, but the French 75 is a complex yet delicious cocktail in its own right, and the bubbly takes things to new heights.
The French 75 has a very long history in New Orleans. The original recipe calls for grenadine, which created a pink concoction that’s also pretty damn tasty. But around the 1920s, the recipe shifted from grenadine to powdered sugar — tying the drink more to a Tom Collins than the original version. By the 1970s, the drink was shifted from the usual Collins glass to a champagne flute and the (in my opinion) the lazy use of simple syrup.
We’re taking this back to the 1920s version but using the 1970s glass. It’s the best of both worlds in my estimation. So, let’s get shaking!
- 1.5-oz. dry gin
- 0.5-oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 barspoon superfine powdered sugar
- 3-oz. dry sparkling white wine/champagne
- Lemon peel
A good gin and fresh lemon juice are a must. The juice has to be freshly squeezed. Don’t worry about straining it, that’ll happen when you strain the cocktail into the glass.
As for the powdered sugar, you usually have to powder granulated white sugar yourself in a pestle and mortar. That’s a real pain in the ass. So I recommend using a super fine powdered sugar that doesn’t clump like the traditional stuff. “Superfine sugar” is what you’re looking for since it has calcium phosphate added to stop it clumping. If that bothers you, then the pestle and mortar it is.
What You’ll Need:
- Champagne flute or Coupe
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Fine-mesh strainer
- Pairing knife
- Prechill the champagne flute in the freezer (preferably overnight).
- Add the lemon juice and superfine sugar to the cocktail shaker and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add the gin and ice to the shaker, affix the lid, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds to emulsify the base.
- Grab the glass from the freezer, fine strain the cocktail into the flute with both strainers, top with champagne, and gently stir once.
- Peel a long peel from the lemon and express the oils from the lemon peel over the glass.
- Slice the edges from the lemon to create a thin, long line of lemon peel, twist like a pig’s tail, and place on the rim of the glass. Serve.
This is one of the brightest “winter” cocktails you can drink. It’s so full of luminous lemon vibes while the bubbly keeps it almost alive with texture and flavor. Yes, it’s delicious, but it’s also refreshing and complex.
The sweetness is just there while the gin provides a very subtle botanical counterpoint to all the fruitiness and yeasty aspects of the champers. This truly goes down too easily and will be the perfect cocktail to ring in the new year. Cheers!