The French 75 is a classic cocktail that dates back to the prohibition era.
It first appeared in New York Magazine, “Here’s How” in 1927 and was later added to the immortal “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock.
The name comes from a 75-millimeter rifle used in World War II by the French troops. Despite the name, the drink itself is a light and refreshing mix of gin, champagne, lemon, and sugar.
There are some publications of the recipe that calls for cognac rather than gin. A cognac is still a good option, but we will be focussing on the gin today.
For the Champagne, just use your favourite or or any good quality champagne, such as Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne NV, or even Charles de Fère “Cuvee Jean-Louis” Blanc de Blancs.
For the best gin to make your own French 75, look no further than the eight options below.
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
This classic gin is made with eight hand-picked botanicals, including Moroccan cubeb berries and West African grains that create a unique blend with a distinct juniper taste.
Bombay never boils their botanicals, preferring to use steam to draw out the flavors, allowing them to extract more.
This method dates all the way back to 1761 when the vapor extraction method was first created.
Why change a good thing when Bombay has been making their excellent gin for this long.
With its dry finish and juniper-forward taste, this makes Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin a perfect choice for a French 75.
Tanqueray No. Ten
Tanqueray has the unique distinction of being the first ultra-premium gin. They use four botanicals as well as grapefruit, lime, orange, and chamomile to craft their gin in small batches.
Instead of a juniper-forward taste, Tanqueray instead treats you to an explosion of fresh citrus. For a French 75, this is the perfect addition to the lemon juice and champagne.
Perhaps the citrus forward tastes could make this gin perfect for a summer French 75, saving the more juniper-forward gins for a wintery variety.
Tanquery No. Ten is an award-winning gin, finding a spot in the San Francisco Spirits Awards Hall of Fame.
Monkey 47 is a small batch distillery that started operation in just 2008.
Despite its young age in the gin business, Alexander Stein, the owner of Monkey 47, uses a recipe that dates back to the 1960s to make his floral craft gin.
The name comes from a pet monkey that was kept by Captain Montgomery Collins, a member of the British Army during World War II. 47, on the other hand, refers to the herbs and flowers that are used to make this gin.
The bouquet Alexander Stein selects creates a gin that is unlike any other, herbaceous with notes of cinnamon, lemon, and flowers.
In a French 75, Monkey 47 would be a truly unique experience, creating a delicate array of flavors and aromas that develop with every sip.
No gin has won quite so many awards as Beefeater. Not only that, but Beefeater has a nice variety of gins to choose from. A complete list includes:
- Beefeater London Dry Gin
- Beefeater Pink Strawberry Gin
- Beefeater Blood Orange
- Beefeater Zesty Lemon Gin
- Beefwater London Gardon
- Beefeater 24
- Burrough’s Reserve
Any one of these gins would make an excellent choice for a French 74, changing the flavor and experience slightly.
The London Garden variety, for example, would bring more florals to your cocktail, while the Blood Orange variety would mellow out the citrus zest from the lemon juice.
I personally was a fan of Pink Strawberry.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin
Midsummer Solstice is a celebration of the turning of the seasons, of summer heat and blooming flowers.
With that mentality in mind, Midsummer SOlstice is a Limited Edition gin made in small batches.
As the name may imply, it is very floral forward, creating a drinking experience that reminds you of long hazy days.
This gin is made by the Scottish-owned William Grant & Sons. They are a five-generation distillery, creating some of the best spirits currently on the market, from Glenfiddich Scotch to Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.
If you’re reading this at the wrong time, and there is no Midsummer Solstice currently available, you could try any of the other gins by Hendrick’s. There is:
- Hendrick’s Gin
- Hendrick’s Neptunia
- Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
The lunar gin, in particular, gives a nice mix of florals, citrus, and a hint of warm spice, reminiscent of drinking the stars themselves.
Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin
When making their gin, Bluecoat decided they wanted to add another element of complexity and flavor to their gin, rounding out the spirit with smoky notes.
They did this by aging their gin in American whiskey barrels for at least twelve months. It’s a technique often seen in the tequila business as well.
The forward taste of Bluecoat is the juniper and pepper that gin is known for. But under that, you’ll find light whiskey and caramel.
This is so wonderful for a French 75, the barrel aging adding mellow notes to the otherwise bright drink.
Overall it makes an excellent middle ground if you don’t want to commit to a cognac-based French 75 fully but still want to mellow the citrus and juniper.
The difference between an American Dry Gin and a London Dry Gin is that the American variety does not have as strong a juniper-forward flavor as the London variety does.
It creates a mild, smooth variety of gin that is great on its own and very lovely in a French 75.
Aviation won’t overpower your cocktail with juniper, letting the lighter flavors from the champagne shine a little more.
Aviation uses a unique blend of botanicals to make their gin, opting for coriander, cardamom, French lavender, sarsaparilla, anise seed, orange peel, and of course, juniper.
Plymouth Original Gin
Finishing off our list is Plymouth. This historic gin dated back to 1793 and was named after Plymouth Rock.
This famous landmark is the landing spot of the ship the Mayflower and the first settlers in America. With a name like that, Plymouth leans into a sense of adventure and discovery with their brand.
Plymouth is a lightly sweet gin made from coriander, lemon, orange, angelica root, orris root, and green cardamom.
It has won a handful of awards, including a double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.