Monday, April 12, 2010

The French 75

This past weekend Heather's mother was in town, and we made a second visit to a trendy restaurant in Tribeca called Locanda Verde. Heather's been referring to this as the current "Sex in the City" restaurant since it's getting so much buzz and press at the moment. Any cocktail mixer worth his salt, however, knows that Cosmo's are out and the "of the moment" drinks tend to be of the speak easy era with and old timey feel.

Locanda Verde was well aware of this fact, which had Heather Ordering the French 75, a remnant of the WWI era, named after artillery canon. It's one of those cocktails you would drink with Hemingway or Dorothy Parker, which is the kind of New York we're looking for. There's something appealing about the prohibition era--the feeling that at any minute someone's going to pop out of nowhere and slap the drink out of my hand. It's sexy.

The French 75 is a cocktail with a couple of different variations. The main ingredient can be either gin or cognac--a pretty big jump in flavor profile--then lemon juice, sugar and champagne. That's about the long and short of it. The drink originated just after the first World War and was published in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 with a note under it that reads "Hits with remarkable precision." They list it as having gin rather than brandy but if you've ever leafed through that book, you would see how much 1930's people loved their gin.

The Death and Company website also incorporates gin and includes no champagne.

The Locanda Verde version reads as follows:


Citrus grappa, strega liquori, fresh lemon, prosecco

Our French 75, Italian style

Grappa is a type of italian brandy distilled from pomace wine which is made from grapes or olives (How Italian) and strega is an herbal liqueur with a slightly sweet flavor.

Not all of us can afford to have a liquor cabinet that is quite as stocked as a place like Locanda Verde, but if you're anything like me, you have a few staples. I would make it like this:

-2 oz. cognac

-1/2 oz. simple syrup

-1/2 oz. lemon juice

-fill with champagne in a champagne glass

If you're looking for a nice brunch cocktail and want a little change of pace from your standard mimosa then this might just do the trick. Heather's only regret is that she ordered it as a pre-dinner cocktail...and that nobody slapped the drink out of her hand. Oh well, next time.

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