The French 75, popularized in the 1920’s, was the very first cocktail I tried when I reached drinking age, sipped in a posh New York bar. It was at the Hotel Carlyle bar (downstairs) Boy, did I feel grown up in my high heels and cocktail dress, even though I was all of 18 (the drinking age during the stone age.) Bobby Short was playing and singing--look it up guys--he was a legend.
The memory of this cocktail resurfaced recently when I was coming up with drinks for The Cranberry Cookbook. I usually stick to wine, so I've been out of the cocktail loop for a while. But this cocktail is too good not to make for a special occasion. I love the tart cranberries (instead of the usual plain sugar syrup) with the lemon and gin. Just a little sweet, but not too much, and full of fizz.
We started off our Thanksgiving with a punch bowl of this cocktail, and I can tell you, even the gin haters were impressed. It's not too alcoholic, but it will give you a pleasant buzz, just right for a holiday party. We more or less multiplied the still ingredients to make punch and poured in a magnum of Prosecco just before we served it, floating some lemon slices and cranberries on top. Fun and sparkle in a bowl!
Cranberry French 75
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) cranberry syrup (see below)
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) chilled champagne
1 In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the gin, lemon juice, and cranberry syrup.
2 Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with the champagne, and garnish it with a lemon twist.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups (8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries soften and pop. Cool to warm room temperature.
2 Set a fine-meshed strainer over a bowl and strain. Discard the cranberries. Transfer the syrup to a jar and store in the refrigerator. Cranberry syrup should keep for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. But truth be told, I kept mine for way longer and it was still very good.