Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gastronomy: French 95

The French 75 is a champagne cocktail that dates back to the Franco-American War. Traditionally, it is made with gin, sugar, lemon juice, and topped with champagne, although, hardcore “mixologists” argue whether cognac was used in the original concoction. I had my first French 75 at a terrific Chicago restaurant called Sepia. The Sepia version includes the additional ingredient of orange bitters. The drink is citrusy, strong, and delicious.

Last weekend, while enjoying one of the last summer evenings outside, we decided to make some fun cocktails—of course, the French 75 came to mind. I ended up using a version from the man who is coined the “king of the cocktail," Dale Degroff. His creation, the French 95, is made with bourbon, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, and champagne. This was truly one of the best drinks I have ever had—smooth, sweet, tangy, and, well, just perfect. It might just replace the margarita as the quintessential summer drink. Cheers!

Recipe for the French 95, from Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. (Incidentally, if you don’t own this book, it is a must for any “foodie” library. It is the ultimate cocktail encyclopedia, filled with historical facts, definitions, and recipes for just about every libation on the planet!)

¾ oz bourbon
¾ oz simple syrup* (see below)
½ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz fresh orange juice

Shake first four ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker; strain into goblet and top with champagne.

*Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is one of those amazing “condiments” that adds the perfect sweetness to martinis, mixed drinks, iced tea, and iced coffees. Basically, any cold drink you would add sugar to, you could use simple syrup instead. It is made with only sugar and water and adds sweetness without having gritty sugar settle on the bottom of the drink.

Traditionally, simple syrup is made on the stove with equal parts water and sugar—bringing water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Dale Degroff recommends filling a cork bottle with equal parts sugar and water—I have found warm water works best. You then shake it vigorously until sugar dissolves. The syrup may be stored in the fridge for several weeks. This process eliminates using the stovetop and is made quickly without the extra mess—who wouldn’t want that? Details: www.amazon.com for Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail.

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gus September 29, 2008 at 2:50 PM  

I tried this drink and it was incredible. Thanks for the post.

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