You’ll love this bright lemony cocktail made with gin, fresh lemon juice, and dry sparkling wine. A French 75 is light, refreshing, and easy to make.
Why you’ll love it: This cocktail is not overly sweet and the sparkling wine gives it a celebratory feel.
How long it takes: 5 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: cocktail shaker, juicer
With tart lemon, botanical gin, and lots of merry bubbles, a French 75 is a very happy cocktail. The festive ribbon of lemon peel is so decorative and pretty.
It’s perfect for warm summer nights. We’re finally in the summer mode here in Michigan and it couldn’t be more welcome after the gray months of winter. There’s nothing like sitting on the deck or in the backyard with a festive cocktail, watching the stars, listening to the night creatures, and quietly chatting with friends or loved ones. In reality, my “quiet” summer evenings are usually more about watching the kids fly around the yard trying to spot bats or catch fireflies!
Actually, I’d say that a French 75 is an all year round cocktail. it’s crisp, clean, and fresh and goes perfectly with lighter hors d’oeuvres or entrées. We love it because it’s not overly sweet. It’s a bit fancier than vodka lemonade or a rosé spritzer.
If you like this cocktail, be sure to try my cherry French 75. It’s basically the same cocktail with the addition of a bit of maraschino cherry syrup which adds another layer of flavor and turns the cocktail a gorgeous color. It’s topped with two garnishes: a lemon twist and a bright red cherry.
About this Cocktail
There are just four ingredients in this easy-to-make cocktail: gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. The recipe is written for one cocktail but it’s really easy to make more. Most cocktail shakers are large enough to mix up 2 cocktails and you can buy larger shakers, too.
One bottle of sparkling wine is enough to make 8 cocktails. If you’re planning on a group, juice a bunch of lemons and prep the lemon twists so you’ll be able to . Store them in the fridge until you’re ready to mix up the cocktails.
Last night I was out with friends and thought I’d order a French 75. It was very disappointing. It was barely cold, with no bubbles and not a garnish in sight. Sigh! It just goes to show that homemade is always better (or I need to find a new restaurant to frequent).
I know you won’t be disappointed by this recipe!
Extra Dry or Brut?
You may be tempted to think that extra dry champagne would be a drier choice than brut champagne but that isn’t true. Extra dry champagne is actually a fairly sweet wine. It seems a misnomer, but that’s just the way it is.
I’ll run through the basics of this easy cocktail here but look for the recipe card with instructions, measurements, and nutrition information near the end of the post.
What you’ll need
- Gin: Use your favorite gin for this drink. We prefer Hendricks which is a classic gin with juniper, floral, and citrus notes, and a clean dry finish. If you’re not a fan of gin, often this cocktail is made with cognac instead of gin.
- Lemon: One lemon will provide plenty of fresh squeezed juice and you’ll use a strip of peel for the garnish, too.
- Simple Syrup: Simple syrup consists of sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves. Pretty simple, and you can easily make your own. It keeps well in the refrigerator.
- Sparkling Wine: Look for a dry sparkling wine, such as brut champagne or prosecco. Make sure it’s well-chilled. One bottle is enough to make eight cocktails.
- Ice: Fresh ice is a must.
- Cocktail Shaker: You’ll need a cocktail shaker to blend and quickly chill the ingredients.
How to make A French 75
Before we get started, let’s talk a minute about glasses. A French 75 is usually served in a champagne flute. More recently, we’ve been seeing it served in a tall Collins glass: shaken with ice first, then poured over cracked ice in the glass.
I’m a little partial to coupe (koo-pay) glasses lately which I think are perfect for this cocktail, too (these are GORGEOUS). In the end, it all comes down to what you like (or maybe what you happen to have). For the photos, we chose a stemless champagne flute.
Next, let’s take a look at the lemons. Wash them thoroughly, of course. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a couple of slices off and make your lemon twist garnish. Juice the remaining lemon halves. You’ll need 3/4 ounce.
Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice to your cocktail shaker.
Shake it vigorously for twenty to thirty seconds. Don’t you just love that sound?
Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass.
Next, top it with sparkling wine.
Give the lemon twist a little squeeze right over the glass so the essential oils are released. If you like, run the twist around the edge of the glass for even more aroma before adding it to the cocktail as a garnish.
Cheers! Enjoy your cocktail!
Because this cocktail is made with gin and sparkling wine, 2 types of alcohol, it is a fairly strong cocktail. If you compare it to a gin and tonic, which has a little more gin but a non-alcoholic mixer, you could say a French 75 is a little stronger. It can kind of sneak up on you because it tastes very light.
As always, please drink responsibly, and as my mother used to tell me before I went out with friends, choose a designated driver.
The history of this cocktail is interesting, dating back to World War I. The origin is in Paris, and it’s named after a weapon, the French 75mm field gun. The original cocktail “was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled” with the French 75 ( Wikipedia).
We tend to think of this lemony cocktail as more of a summer cocktail although it is certainly welcome any time of the year. Try it with lighter appetizers or entrées, like this whipped feta cheese spread with lemon and dill and crostini. Another good choice is spinach dip or slow cooker spinach artichoke dip.
For entrées, serve it with lemon salmon with dill or easy lemon pepper shrimp.
Make It Your Own
- Variations: Substitute cognac for the gin. Another option is St. Germain elderflower liqueur, which will result in a sweeter cocktail. You may want to consider omitting the simple syrup if you choose to use St. Germain.
- There are a couple of ways to make this cocktail either sweeter or drier. You can use more or less simple syrup, even omitting it entirely if you like things tart. A sweeter champagne such as extra dry will also make a sweeter cocktail.
- Add more or less gin, depending on how strong you like your cocktails.
- Serve it in chilled glasses or serve it on the rocks in a Collins glass.
Make Ahead Ideas
If you know you are going to be making several cocktails, it’s a good idea to make the lemon twist garnishes and squeeze the lemon juice ahead of time. Refrigerate both separately in airtight containers until ready to use.
Make sure you have your simple syrup prepared and chilled. You can do that several days ahead. It keeps well in the fridge in a jar.
Be prepared with plenty of fresh ice!
This cocktail is best enjoyed immediately. The sparkling wine will lose its sparkle if you have any left over.
- 1 ½ ounces gin
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 3 ounces dry sparkling wine (brut champagne or prosecco)
- Before juicing the lemon, cut off a long, thin spiral of lemon peel, reserving it to make a lemon twist garnish (see note).
- Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup and shake for 20-30 seconds or until very cold.
- Strain into champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.
- Twist reserved lemon peel into a tight twist and garnish drink.
- This cocktail is great with a lemon twist garnish. Here is a tutorial for making a lemon twist if you don’t know how.
- For best results, chill champagne flutes before filling. This cocktail can also be served on ice in a Collins glass.
- If desired, substitute cognac or St. Germain elderflower liqueur for the gin.
- One bottle of champagne will make 8 cocktails. If you’re serving several cocktails, squeeze the lemons and make the lemon twist garnishes ahead and store them separately in the fridge.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.