Retro Cocktail for January: French 75

This month’s Retro Cocktail, the “French 75”, dates back over a hundred years and has a colorful, storied past. Appearing in many of the cocktail books of the 1920s and 1930s (with different ingredients in each recipe), the original is said to have come about during The Great War. When French and American pilots of the famed Lafayette Escadrille had leave, they would dash off to Paris, to the bar at the Hôtel Chatham. Here, they celebrated still being alive, with copious amounts of champagne and cognac, both readily available. And their celebrations evolved into a cocktail (with lemon juice and sugar added) that became known as the “French 75”—named for the French army’s 75 millimeter guns, of which they were all too familiar.

It’s a refreshingly potent drink, with a delicious taste and a lovely amber color (thanks to the cognac*), with bubbles floating ever-upward, giving us hope when we need it most. And another reason it’s a personal favorite is because it appeared in the movie Casablanca (which is awesome). And in France, it’s simply called Soixante Quinze (Seventy-Five), and I love trying to pronounce Soixante Quinze!

*Gin may be substituted for the cognac.


1½ parts Courvoisier Cognac V.S.
 Moët et Chandon Champagne
 ¾ part fresh-squeezed Lemon juice
 ½ part Simple Syrup Shake the Cognac, Lemon juice, and Simple Syrup over ice, then pour into an elegant champagne flute. Fill glass with Champagne, then garnish with a lemon peel.

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