A Cherry Riff on the FRENCH 75 Cocktail Recipe


Today is my birthday and I got both a lovely bottle of Hendrick's Gin and a bottle of Champagne as gifts. Champagne is my normal celebratory tipple but that Hendrick's raises another possibility and one that suits this particular mile marker of my life - both of these spirits are part of the vintage classic cocktail, the French 75. (No, I'm not going to speak aloud this particular life marker - it's NOT 75 but the name of my birthday cocktail for this year should give you a pretty clear clue.)

Created at Harry's New York Bar in 1915 by barman Harry MacElhone, the French 75 is made from gin, usually a London dry, lemon juice, dry or Brut Champagne, a wee bit of sugar and properly served in a Collins glass. It's definitely a bubbly version of the then very popular Tom Collins. It was named after a WWI French artillery gun, supposedly because both had a big kick. I don't personally know about the artillery gun (oh, come on, despite my advanced age, I was born WAY after the Great War), but I do know the French 75 has enough booze in it to kick you right into a Flanders Field of a hangover if you're not careful. (You young whippersnappers can Google Flanders Field for the reference.)

Harry MacElhone's version was published under simply the "75" and used Calvados, gin, grenadine, and absinthe while in Robert Vermeire's "Cocktails: How to Mix Them" lemon juice was added to the mix. The currently popular recipe version showed up in "Here’s How" in 1927, then in 1930 "The Savoy Cocktail Book" added "French" to the name. David Embury's "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" has a recipe that uses Cognac instead of gin, but, according to David Wondrich, that makes the French 75 a King's Peg and I'm not doing any king or peg thing on my birthday. Besides, I have that lovely Hendrick's Gin!

Like I always do, I got all crotchety and defiant and went my merry, old fart way by adding some cherries (cherries are a great preventative for arthritis) and a dash of rosemary (for memory loss) and lavender bitters (for the aches and pains of old joints.)


(Serves 1 in a Collins glass, 2 in a flute)
2 Oz. Hendrick's Gin 
2 Tablespoons Cherry Simple Syrup*
1/2 Oz. Lemon Juice
5 Oz. Brut champagne
3 Dashes Wigle Rosemary Lavender Bitters

Lemon Twist, Sprig of Rosemary and/or Bordeaux Cherry

GLASS: Collins or Flute

Cocktail Shaker


Chill your glass in the freezer.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add the Hendrick's, lemon juice and cherry simple syrup and shake until chilled.
Strain into a Collins glass half-full of cracked ice or divide and serve up (without ice) into 2 flutes, top off with champagne and garnish.
* I made my own fresh homemade cherry simple syrup using this method, but you can also use the juice from the Bordeaux Cherries.

A couple of these make for a very Happy Birthday. More than a couple make for a very un-merry birthday or day after your birthday - that French artillery thing kicks in. I plan on being very cautious, as someone my age should ... ah, who am I kidding? Bring on the big guns, I only have so much time left!!

P.S. if anyone dares to nickname this cocktail The Old Fart 75, I will haunt you from beyond.

Updated 1-14-2021

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