The French 75 Cocktail is the Perfect Fancy-Yet-Easy Drink For New Year’s Eve


Champagne might be a little less befuddling to you, but I’ll explain it just in case. It’s a sparkling wine, made from just a handful of grape varietals, wherein the wine is bottled with added yeast and sugar, after which a second fermentation occurs in the bottle. The bottles are let to sit, then they’re moved about (or “riddled”), and finally they are disgorged to remove the dead yeast. There’s more to it, but essentially it’s a natural carbonation method. As with Cognac, this wine is made under the protected appellation of Champagne.

Okay, back to the matter at hand, which is your NYE plan. It’s a very short shopping list! This way you’ll have lots of time to make some onion dip or pigs in a blanket.

Your Shopping List

  • Cognac, like Pierre Ferrand
  • Champagne, or really good brut (i.e. very dry) sparkling wine
  • Sugar
  • 8 lemons
Photo by Laura Murray

Your Prep

Let’s start as we often do, by making a simple syrup. Add 1 cup boiling water to 1 cup sugar and stir vigorously until sugar is completely dissolved. While you’re letting that cool, juice 6 of your lemons. (Reserve 2 for garnish!) Strain juice through a fine strainer to remove pulp and any seeds that may have snuck in.

How to Make It

Now, some people love this drink in a Champagne flute with no ice, but me and my pals at Fort Defiance did a big tasting session where we tried this cocktail every which way, and we disagree: A regular-size wine glass and cracked ice are the way to go. To crack the ice, use a wooden muddler or a mallet to break up bigger cubes into pleasingly craggy pieces without pulverizing them. Add cracked ice to the wine glass.

Pour 1 ounce Cognac, ½ ounce lemon juice, and ½ ounce simple syrup into your shaker. Add plenty of ice and seal. Shake hard for about 15 seconds. Strain into your prepared wine glass. Then top with about 3 oz. Champagne. Finally, do the lemon peel thing we’re always talking about: Take off a wide piece of lemon peel using a Y-peeler. Using your thumb and fore- and middle-fingers on both hands, pinch the peel, yellow side down, to express the oils onto the surface of the drink. Rub the now-oily, yellow side of the peel all the way around the rim of the wine glass. Place peel in the cocktail. Serve.

Now you’ve got a drink that’s so perfect for NYE that it will make all other drinks seem a little out of place. Legend has it that if you drink something extremely swanky at the stroke of midnight, you’re sure to have your fanciest year yet.

Al Culliton is a writer, bartender and consultant living in western Massachusetts. She is an alum of the beloved Red Hook bar and restaurant Fort Defiance and owns her own cocktail company, Al’s Bar. Al enjoys poring over menus and cocktail books from bygone eras, touring the New English countryside, and cooking for her partner at home.



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