The History of the French 75 Cocktail

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

Just because the French 75 is a champagne cocktail doesn’t mean it’s just meant for sipping at a New Year’s Eve party or at a wedding reception. This drink dates back to World War I, when it was supposedly created by a WWI fighter pilot of French and American origin who thought champagne was lacking in the potency department. The drink was found to have such a powerful kick that he said it felt like being on the receiving end of a French 75mm howitzer artillery piece, hence the name of the cocktail. Coming from a World War I pilot, you can be confident in your masculinity while knocking back one of these.

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Made from gin or cognac, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, the French 75 is certainly not for rookies. The killer combination gained popularity in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris, later known as Harry’s New York Bar, when shaken up by famous barman Harry MacElhone. It was popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York when returning World World I pilots came home with the refreshing recipe.

The drink’s ingredients were first recorded in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, using gin. Later on, another cocktail book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury claimed that the French 75 is a cognac-based cocktail. The truth is, we’ll never know which spirit was used in the original concoction. Each preparation earned its given name, a respectful salute to the French 75mm howitzer artillery piece, and are both treasured by bartenders and patrons alike.

Fizzy and delicious, the French 75 is an easy-to-make cocktail that can get you into trouble rather quickly if you’re not careful. It’s definitely the drink to grab if you plan on starting your next party off with a real big bang.


  • .5 oz Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2 oz  dry gin or cognac
  • Champagne, chilled
  • Glass: Collins


Add the lemon juice and sugar to a shaker and stir to combine. Add the gin and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a Collins glass filled with cracked ice. Fill slowly with Champagne

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