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Posted on September 13, 2019

French 75: The Classic French Cocktail

A few stories suggest that the French 75 cocktail was invented in the trenches during World War I. It’s an unlikely beginning for a drink that at first looks like the picture of elegance, crowned with a froth of Champagne along with a lemon twist. But because of the heavy ratio of gin, this drink packs much more of a punch than you would think at first glance.

The rumor is that this cocktail was named after the Canon de 75 Modèle 1897, also known as the French 75mm field gun, a piece of artillery that played a significant role in the Allied Forces’ victory in WWI.

This makes sense, as both the drink and the gun had a way of knocking you backward. The soldiers had all the necessary ingredients to make the drink right there with them, including Champagne. However, they had to use empty shell casings instead of cocktail shakers.

If this all seems unlikely, that’s because it probably is. This cocktail most likely originated before the war. In fact, as early as 1867, it was said that Charles Dickens served his guests Tom Gin and Champagne cups, which bears a close resemblance to the French 75.

The French 75 We Drink Today

The exact French 75 we drink today is commonly traced back to the early 1900s, but that is not entirely accurate. The recipe was first written down in 1927 in a bootlegger-friendly cocktail guide entitled “Here’s How!” Alternatively, there is a 1920s volume called “Harry’s ABCs of Mixing Cocktails” by Harry MacElhone, who made a name for himself at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. In this book, MacElhone included a recipe for the drink. The book was officially published in 1930, but is said to have been written years earlier, in the mid-1920s, so it’s impossible to know which came first.

Another controversy about the history of the French 75 comes into play when we talk about Paris. In some recipes, you’ll see that Cognac is called for instead of gin. This supposedly reflects the drink’s French pedigree and origins, and if you order a French 75 in New Orleans, to this day, Cognac is still what’s used. However, many cocktail connoisseurs recommend that you use gin for this drink. Why not try it both ways and see which mixture you prefer?

Le Manhattan Bistro Featured Cocktails

If you’re in the mood to have a French 75 after reading this blog post, stop by  Le Manhattan Bistro today. We have several other featured cocktails along with a unique dinner and bar menu that you and your friends are sure to enjoy!