Mad About the French 75

Following the season premiere of Mad Men, I had the urge to time travel back to an era where men wore slick suits and skinny ties and had a bar trolley in their office.  Everything was sleek and chic and Madison Avenue cocktail parties meant sipping your libation from a martini glass. Ahhhh, the French 75. Don’t let the “pinky up” notion of this champagne concoction fool you. After all, it’s named after a gun.

The drink was first created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris–later Harry’s New York Bar–by barman Harry MacElhone. The recipe, first recorded in a 1930’s cocktail book, was said “to hit with remarkable precision” much like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. Mobile, accurate and quick-firing, the 75-millimeter M1897,  was the mainstay of the French field artillery during the first World War. (Make sure to mention of all of this so as to dazzle your guests with your remarkable Don Draper-esque ability to hold a room.)

There is some debate as to whether this drink is supposed to be made with gin or cognac which frankly, I feel is a topic better tackled after testing the two variations. Either way, it’s a fine way to ensure that someone will be singing “Zou Bisou Bisou” by the end of the evening.


  1. Ice
  2. 2 ounces dry gin
  3. 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  4. 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  5. 5 ounces of dry Sparkling wine

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin (or cognac), simple syrup and lemon juice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass, top with sparkling wine and serve. Garnish with a lemon twist.


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