French 75 Cocktail Recipe
This powerful blend of spirits and flavors is so potent that its very name came from artillery used during World War I.
When folks say the French 75 cocktail really “packs a punch,” they’ve got an artillery of history to back them up.
Created back in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris – later known as Harry’s New York Bar – the drink’s original combination of gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar was said to deliver such a kick that it felt like you were being shelled by the powerful quick-firing French 75mm field guns used during World War I.
And while a legendary cocktail was born back then, it’s a classic restaurant and bar in New Orleans, Arnaud's, that perfected the recipe to make it the popular drink enjoyed in Louisiana today.
“Although there’s ongoing debate about what the base spirit of a French 75 cocktail should be – gin or Cognac – we believe it would’ve been Cognac since its very name was inspired by the French during the war.” So says Katy Casbarian, co-owner of Arnaud’s, a fourth-generation “grand dame” Creole restaurant in New Orleans whose swanky French 75 Bar has become known as THE place to enjoy the beloved modern iteration of this storied drink. The bar is so revered, in fact, that it has won the coveted James Beard Award for “Outstanding Bar Program” and has been named “One of the Top Five Bars in the Country” by Esquire Magazine.
Signature drinks here are made with high-quality spirits, locally sourced ingredients and house-made syrups. Known for its white-tuxedoed bartenders and rock-star mixologist Chris Hannah, the French 75 Bar welcomes guests in surroundings that transport you back to yesteryear, including mosaic tile floors, cushioned chairs and a vintage wooden bar custom built in the late 1800s.
“And of course, there’s plenty of animal prints and mahogany and all that,” Casbarian says, with a laugh. “Walking in here is really like stepping back in time.”
That feeling extends to the dining room as well, where original owner Arnaud Cazenave – a French wine salesman, interestingly enough – wanted guests to know that the pursuit of pleasures around the dinner table were as worthy as anything else in life. Casbarian says bartenders at Arnaud’s and the French 75 Bar have “probably served a million” of these famed cocktails through the years, including to some pretty famous guests. But, she’s quick to add, “our real celebrities are the locals who come visit us often, so those are the guests we hold most dear.”
French 75 Cocktail Recipe
- 1.5 oz. cognac (Courvoisier VS)
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. simple syrup
- 2.75 oz. Champagne (Moet & Chandon)
- lemon twist, for garnish
Method of Preparation
- Place the cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice and shake only long enough to chill.
- Pour into a frosted champagne tulip glass, top with champagne and add a lemon twist.