Bubbles, citrus, spirits and love all swirl around in this cocktail, there is no doubt this is a beautiful concoction. Its beauty is born from war though, World War II to be precise. This horrible moment on our wonderful earth impacted everyone's lives for decades and still generations to come, and of course there is cocktail history born throughout. The cheers of the French 75 from men on the battlefield was the first sound of peace Europe had heard in 5 years.
Today we perceive the French 75 as a dainty cocktail that is served in a champagne flute along with gin, lemon juice, sugar and bubbles. This is a modern evolution of the drink and to be honest it tastes just fine. The origin of the French 75 and it's ingredients are a bit different but the story of how it came to be is remarkable and is my favorite of all cocktail history.
The War is coming to an end. Hitler is hiding in his bunker, Europe is being reclaimed back by the Allies and France is rid of the Nazi regime that once conquered it. Soldiers are putting down their guns and picking up any drinking vessel they could find to cheers their brothers in arms. On the battlefield you have a mix of French and American Soldiers. The French wanted their champagne and the Americans wanted whiskey of course. Obvious to say there was not an abundance of whiskey on the battlefield but the French did have Cognac, similar color but definitely sweeter in taste. The soldiers combined the two with some citrus, sugar and the sound of the 75 mm canons blasting to celebrate. Champagne glasses were not pervasive on the front lines so the soldiers cheers with whichever they had. The birth of this cocktail signifies the biggest cry of relief for almost every continent on this planet. A beautiful story to match a beautiful drink.
Fast forward to today and let's be honest, cognac is not that popular among the American palate and now gin has taken its place. It is a fine spirit and makes a tasty substitute. If a bar tender asks you for your preference of gin or cognac maybe give cognac a try.
The recipe for this drink can be tricky and I found that many cocktail books skip over a small but important detail, but don't worry I will go over that with you now.
In a shaker, combine the Cognac/Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice. Shake. In a champagne flute, pour the champagne FIRST and then SLOWLY pour the contents of the shaker on top of the champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy.
Cheers to our family members that bravely fought in WWII,
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Maggie Kimberl is one of the most respected and prolific writers in American whiskey, and her journey into the bourbon industry is one-of-a-kind.
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