Sparkling French Cocktails for New Year's Eve

The French 75: What's better than Champagne? Gin and Champagne. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

As I mention in my book, the French know their way around a cocktail shaker. Most better restaurants have a “cocktail maison”—a house cocktail—and it’s always a dashing way to kick off the evening. The Bonne Femme cookbook offers an entire chapter of nibbles and “Cocktails Maisons,” and two of them, in particular, would be great for New Year’s Eve, because in each case, there’s bubbly involved.

The French 75 may be my favorite Champagne cocktail of all. The drink was popularized at the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Mixologist lore claims it was named for the 75-mm cannon used in World War I: That is, the drink packs quite the kick.

There’s just something so festive and refreshing about this one: Lemon juice adds a nice spark, while gin adds virility. And who can resist bubbles? Though Champagne is traditional, you can use just about any good sparkling wine for this.

Here’s the recipe:


For each cocktail:

1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup*
4 or 5 ice cubes, plus more for serving
Champagne or sparkling wine
1 lemon slice

In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add the ice cubes; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Slowly fill the glass with Champagne. Garnish with the lemon slice.

* If you don’t have simple syrup, simply dissolve 1/4 teaspoon sugar into each ounce of gin before you shake everything together.

Looking for another cocktail? Try Lemony-Pear Sparkling Sangria, which is also in my book. Josie at the Pink Parsley blog shot a beautiful picture of it, and posted the recipe. I love her idea of getting a pitcher of everything (except the bubbly) ready to go in the fridge. Then, when guests arrive, finish the cocktails and serve.

Pear Sangria. Photo by Josie at (I'd give anything to be able to take photos like this!)


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