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What is a French 75 Cocktail?

French 75 is a cocktail traditionally made with gin, champagne, bitters, lemon juice and sugar.  Renowned mixologist Nick Mautone says that over the years brandy or cognac has become the more popular spirit in this drink, replacing the gin.  The drink was named after a piece of French artillery used during World War I.  Now it’s become very popular again at classic bars, and also gets ordered often as a brunch drink.

Bubbly French 75 with an orange peel.

Make sure to use fresh citrus in this drink – fresh lemon wedges and fresh orange twists.  The better the quality of alcohol, the better drink (which is always the case, unless you are really disguising the alcohol in a serious fruit punch or something).

Bitters in French 75

Orange bitters are the most common type of bitters used in this drink. Angostura is the classic brand, but there are SO many terrific bitters available now to try.  Play around with different types, and find your favorite  version of a French 75.

Bitters being poured into a long-stemmed glass.

Why is French called 75?

Sometimes a French 75 is called a 75 cocktail or in France, a Soixante Quinze.  It was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris by a bartender named Harry MacElhone (the Bar was later named Harry’s New York Bar, which more people have heard of).  Supposedly the drink was so named because the cocktail was said to have a kick that resembled being shelled with the powerful French 75-millimeter field gun – which is a little unsettling, but there you have it.  It became very popular at the Stork Club in New York City, and has appeared in movies such as “Casablanca”.

Arnaud’s in New Orleans serves up a famous French 75 made with cognac.  Apparently if it’s made with vodka it becomes a French 76, and if it’s made with whiskey it’s a French 95.  Mixologists have been playing around with all sorts of different liquors in this drink; you should feel free to do the same.

Woman holding a French 75 in a long-stemmed glass with an orange peel.

What Type of Glass to Serve a French 75 In?

It is most often served in a champagne or coupe glass, though originally it may also have been served in a highball glass. A highball glass holds a lot more liquid, and this doesn’t often get served over ice, so one could imagine that would be a lot of alcohol!  Play it safe, and adorable, and serve it in a champagne glass.  Any kind of champagne glass will work, from a flute (tall or more shallow) to a coupe.

Champagne filling a long-stemmed glass for a French 75.

How To Make an Orange Twist

Orange, or lemon, twists are simply strips of zest that are twisted over cocktails to release their potent oils and flavor the drink.  You can use a vegetable peeler to remove strips about 2 inches long from the fruit.  Take care to just remove the bright orange (or yellow) zest and leave the bitter white pith behind.  You can also do this by cutting off each nubby end of the fruit and using a sharp paring knife to carefully slice down the fruit, removing strips of the zest.

How to Make a French 75

Place a sugar cube or ½ teaspoon sugar in each of two champagne or coupe glasses. Add 2 dashes of bitters and 1 ounce brandy or gin to each glass. Squeeze a wedge of lemon into each glass and discard the wedge. Stir.

Pour half of the champagne into each glass, then twist one orange strip over each glass and drop it in. Serve.

French 75: This popular classic cocktail is sparkling and citrusy, and can spark up any brunch.

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Two French 75 cocktails in long-stemmed glasses.

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French 75

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 People
This popular classic cocktail is sparkling and citrusy, and can spark up any festive gathering or brunch.

Ingredients 

  • 2 sugar cubes (brown or white) or 1 teaspoon granulated brown or white sugar
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 ounces brandy or gin
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • 1 cup chilled champagne or sparkling wine
  • 2 orange twists , for garnish (see Note)

Instructions 

  • Place a sugar cube or ½ teaspoon sugar in each of two champagne or coupe glasses. Add 2 dashes of bitters and 1 ounce brandy or gin to each glass. Squeeze a wedge of lemon into each glass and discard the wedge. Stir.
  • Pour half of the champagne into each glass, then twist one orange strip over each glass and drop it in. Serve.

Notes

Orange, or lemon, twists are simply strips of zest that are twisted over cocktails to release their potent oils and flavor the drink. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove strips about 2 inches long from the fruit. Take care to just remove the bright orange (or yellow) zest, and leave the bitter white pitch behind. You can also do this by cutting off each nubby end of the fruit and using a sharp paring knife to carefully slice down the fruit, removing strips of the zest.

Nutrition

Calories: 154kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 9mg, Potassium: 129mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 4IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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