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Cocktails & Spirits

French 75

pfish | | Aug 10, 2010 07:13 PM

I recently had a cocktail which the restaurant called a "Cocktail 75" - it was delicious, inventive and sophisticated, involving Domaine de Canton & sparkling wine. This prompted me to look up the recipe (and history) of the cocktail which inspired it - the French 75.

Apparently the story about the French 75 as I learned it was that it was invented by an American soldier who served in France during WWI. He learned to love drinking champagne, but felt it didn't have enough kick to it. So he fixed that by adding a shot or two of cognac. The French used a heavy-hitting field artillery piece, a 75mm howitzer and the drink became known by that name.

Whether or not the story is true is actually beside the point. What puzzles me is why some versions of the drink have cognac (yum) and some have gin, which aside from the high alcohol content is nothing like cognac. The gin version sounds more Americanized, which may be neither here nor there.

Which one is correct? If I order a French 75 at a bar, will I get gin or cognac? Or should I specify? And if I'm making the drink at home and I use cognac, do I still need to add the lemon & sugar or is that an addition to make the gin more palatable? Finally, has anyone else ever had the Canton version (which I understand is cognac mixed with ginger extracts)?