The History Of The French 75
The French 75 cocktail was named after the WWI French 75mm light field canon. The earliest reference to the French 75 is a cocktail called the “75” in Harry MacElhone’s 1923 book “Harry of Ciro,” but that was completely different than what we typically consider a French 75 today. Mac Elhones’ recipe contained 2 oz apple brandy, 1 oz dry gin, 1 tsp grenadine, and two dashes absinthe. MacElhone states that this cocktail was very popular in France during the Great War (WWI) and was named after the French 75mm canon. So this is the same cocktail, just a different recipe. I believe this is the original French recipe for the French 75. MacElhone mentioned other french cocktails before they became popular, and grenadine was amazingly popular in France during this time. Grenadine became popular in France during the mid-1890s and stayed that way. The recipe looks like a cocktail that would be popular in 1910s France. This is the only time this recipe appears, and it is not the canon recipe used from the 1930s on.
The first publication of the French 75 cocktail we commonly see today comes from a 1926 UK periodical called “The Judge.” In volume 90 of the Judge. The recipe in The Judge is exactly the French 75 recipe used today, but oddly the article writer says the cocktail comes from “somewhere east of the Suez” the Suez is in eastern Egypt, and I don’t believe for one second this cocktail came from the Middle East. It’s not uncommon for some cocktails to get exotic origin stories to make them sound more interesting. Cocktail origins often get simplified when people don’t know to “oh, the margarita was made for a girl named Margarita” or “Oh, the Negroni was made by a man named Mr. Negroni.” if you are curious about the most likely origins of the Margarita or Negroni check out my articles on them.
The oldest cocktail book to publish the current French 75 recipe was the 1928 book “Here’s How!” by Judge Jr. His recipe is the same as “The Judge” periodicals recipe. Both of these recipes call for the drink to be served in a tall highball glass with cracked ice, but it is more common to see it served today in a Champagne flute without ice.
What Does The French 75 Taste Like?
The French 75 is both a strong and an easy-to-sip cocktail. The French 75 has an ABV of around 15% and is a boozier version of the John Collins. That’s also a good way to describe it. It tastes like a slightly sweeter and boozier John Collins. These come up on you fast too. A few of these, and you’re done for.