Bounjour mes amis et mercie d’etre ici aujourd’hui.
Now that my high school French has been exhausted, I will return to the English language as we embark on yet another session of Cocktail U. To match the French-ness of last week’s crepe, courtesy of Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box, a Champagne-based cocktail seemed necessary. The words “French 75” immediately came to mind, though I must confess that they drew a blank. While I knew there is an adult beverage by this name, that is all I knew.
Fortunately, I have a good-sized library of cocktail books and a recipe for French 75 was easy to find. I chose the version in Amanda Hallay’s Vintage Cocktails as it’s a cute book with simple recipes and fun copy.
Credited to Harry McElhone, namesake of Harry’s New York in Paris, the French 75 mixes gin, lemon juice, sweetener, and sparkling wine. It dates back to 1919 and said to be so named because it packs as much punch as the French 75 mm howitzer artillery rifle as seen on Flanders Fields in WWI. Naming a cocktail as lovely as this after a rifle seems in poor taste, but those were admittedly altogether different times.
What is still the same is the tastiness of this crazy little drink.
Instead of buying the good bubbly for this project, I opened the lone bottle of Barefoot Bubbly (mon dieu!), left over from a New Year’s party. Using authentic Champagne, or even a better quality sparkling wine, might have bumped the final drink up a notch, but I complain not.
There were bubbles, there was sweet (just a teeny tiny bit – doubling that 1 teaspoon sugar couldn’t hurt), there was a tart and intense freshness. It would have married perfectly with those crepes, had I any leftover for pairing.
It was an ooh-la-la drink for sure and I love that it is now part of my cocktail repertoire. I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy cocktails for the escape they offer, not just in the drinking but also in the making. Family and career demands may loom, but in taking the time to pour, shake, and mix, I feel transported to an arena where I have at least a bit of a say in how things turn out. (Unlike the influence I have when it comes to my children, haha.) The French 75, especially, provides an escape to France circa early 1920s, no time machine or overseas transport required.
A fancy French toast, then, to you all. Please find me again next week and we’ll see what Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box offers up.