Two facts about the French 75: the “origin story” of the cocktail has gotten a bit muddled over time, and its namesake is an artillery gun from WWI. I can’t think of two BETTER facts to endorse a cocktail; it’s so great that no one can really remember where it came from, and it’s so powerful that the French 75mm Field Gun moniker withstands the test of time.
It sounded like a great drink to serve this past weekend when my in-laws came to visit! 🙂
Some sources date the story to 1915 when a Franco American fighter pilot in Paris, Raoul Lufbery, wanted his champagne to be more powerful. He added cognac to his bubbly and the drink was born.
Others keep the the story in Paris, but credit a bartender at Harry’s New York Bar for creating a drink with a combination considered so powerful that it feels like being shelled by a quick firing canon. There’s even evidence that Charles Dickens served a gin-based version of the cocktail to his guests in the 1860’s. No matter its origin, the cocktail is delicious.
Ernest Hemingway and his gang of ex-pats in the Lost Generation, were said to drink them at Harry’s in Paris. By the 1930’s, celebrities and aristocrats alike were sipping the gin-based cocktail at the famous Stork Club in Manhattan. It even gets ordered at Rick’s Cafe in the movie Casablanca.
I imagine Hemingway, sitting alongside the Boulevard du Montparnasse, drinking a French 75 while Fitzgerald read him The Great Gatsby. I can see Grace Kelly setting her flute to the side while she leaned in to confirm, and break the news, of her engagement to Prince Ranier at the Stork Club. Perhaps even the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, sipped the cocktail from a coupe during their frequent visits to Harry’s in Paris. It’s an elegant drink that appeals to everyone. It’s a classic.
Easy to serve to guests because you can make a pitcher of it ahead of time, the French 75 requires only a few ingredients and minimal prep time. This was another reason I chose it to serve this past weekend to Matt’s parents; they were arriving around 5 on a Friday and I had worked and attended a sports banquet. I needed something nice, but easy.
A few lemons, sugar, and water combine to make the simple syrup; added to gin and topped off with champagne, this cocktail is simple to create and impressive to serve.
There are many variations of the recipe, but here is the one that works best for me ( I adapted it from Danielle Rollins’s recipe in Soiree):
Ingredients to Make a Pitcher of French 75s (serves 6-8):
- 12 oz. of gin (my favorites are New Amsterdam and Tanqueray)
- 1 bottle of chilled champagne or spumante (I like spumante because it is less dry, Verdi is inexpensive)
- 8 oz. of freshly squeezed lemon juice (6-8 lemons)
- 8 oz. of lemon simple syrup (recipe below)
- 6-8 chilled champagne coupes or flutes
Combine the gin, lemon juice, and lemon syrup in a pitcher. Add crushed ice to your chilled glasses and fill them halfway up with your gin-lemon mixture. Top off each glass with champagne and serve.
Garnish the glass as you wish. I’ve seen it served in flutes, coupes, and martini glasses.
My favorite part is you can make your lemon syrup and gin-based mixture ahead of time, which makes this a great cocktail for parties.
To make the lemon syrup:
Bring to a boil a cup of water combined with a cup of sugar. Boil until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, remove from the heat and add the zest from 3-4 lemons. Allow this to cool. You can even store it in the fridge for a week or two!
The Bacon Old Fashioned
It tastes like breakfast in your mouth.” That’s what my husband said, eyes alight, after his first sip of a Bacon Old Fashioned. We were in Nashville at The Patterson House; a high styled speakeasy evoking a blend of tones from Gatsby to Capone. The experience and the drinks were delicious.
The Bacon Old Fashioned had us hooked, but it was hard to find. We encountered it again at PDT in Manhattan’s East Village, another version of the popular speakeasy. Instead of passing through heavy curtains to get to the bar like we did Nashville, to access PDT you have to visit a hot dog stand, enter a phone booth, and wait for the hostess to “open the door” which is actually the side wall of the phone booth! PDT’s version of the Bacon Old Fashioned is a little less “smokey” than the first we had, which I ended up preferring. The latest place we ordered the decadent cocktail was at The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, FL.
In talking to the bartenders and mixologists at all three establishments, I decided I could make Matt his very own version of this new, favorite cocktail. After burning two pans of bacon, I finally got it right. Here is my version of the Bacon Old Fashioned. It’s a combination of Patterson’s, PDT’s, and the Ravenous Pig’s.
You will need to infuse the bourbon with bacon at least 12 hours prior to when you plan on making and serving the drink.
3 or 4 slices of smoky bacon, you will need 1 oz. of bacon fat
1 750-ml. bottle of bourbon; I used Bulleit Rye Bourbon
Maple Syrup (Grade B if possible)
DIRECTIONS FOR INFUSING THE BOURBON WITH BACON
1. Cook the bacon in a pan, let it cool, and drain off ONE OUNCE OF FAT into a glass bowl or tupperware. (Eat the bacon. 🙂 )
2. Pour the bourbon into another non-porous container with a cap/lid, but KEEP THE BOURBON BOTTLE. I recycled a cleaned , plastic OJ bottle as an “infusing container.”
3. Strain ONE OUNCE of bacon fat into the container with the bourbon, put the cap on, and let it sit (room temp) for AT LEAST 6 hours to infuse the bourbon with the bacon taste.
4. Put the container of infused bourbon in the freezer until the fat solidifies (gross; cue semi-regret for eating the leftover bacon).
5. There are a few ways to remove the solidified fat. I put a cheesecloth covered funnel into the top of the bourbon bottle and slowly poured the infused bourbon back into its original bottle. Others have used metal strainers and/or slotted spoons to remove the fat chunks.
6. (optional) I didn’t feel like I got all the fat out, so I did steps 4 & 5 again.
Now, you’ve got fabulously infused bacon bourbon.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE “BREAKFAST IN YOUR MOUTH” BACON OLD FASHIONED:
1. Quarter a small orange
2. Then, in a mixing glass, stir…2 ounces of bacon infused bourbon, 1/4 ounce of Maple Syrup, 2 dashes of bitters, the juice from a squeezed orange quarter, and 1-2 cubes of ice
3. Strain into a chilled “old fashioned” glass (sometimes these glasses are called “rocks glasses”; 6-8 oz and non-stemmed)
4. Rim the glass with an orange quarter and serve with an orange twist.
(The Ravenous Pig adds a splash of water, which I prefer but Matt does not.)
Serve a specialty cocktail to your guests. It’s an easy way to make them feel special. A great party is not made by how many people come, but how the people that come… feel. When you host, serve something special. <3
Father’s Day is Sunday~ you have just enough time to make him Bacon-Infused Bourbon. I’ve written before about one of Matt’s favorite drinks, “The Bacon Old Fashioned,” and I thought Father’s Day would be a great time to make another batch of bacon-infused bourbon for Matt’s dad (surprise, David!).
The bacon smelled so good, but it was so hot outside that I didn’t feel like drinking a Bacon Old Fashioned. I wanted something sweeter and lighter. So, I cut up some fresh peaches and soaked one batch overnight in some bacon bourbon and another batch in gin. I put a few slices in a champagne coupe and covered them with my favorite chilled pink champagne.
Voila, the perfect SOUTHERN COCKTAIL was born. We toasted to the end of the school year with some friends and had a lovely evening enjoying a comfortable southern evening in Florida.
Consider infusing some bourbon with bacon for your dad~ there’s a treat in it for you, too!
Lou’s Brew~ an iced coffee cocktail
I didn’t think I liked “iced coffee.” I always thought that no one REALLY liked it, but everyone just ordered it because it was the “cool” thing to do. (I have a similar theory about the Dave Matthews Band, but I will save that post for another day). I had refused to be brainwashed by Starbucks. I had principles! Drinking real coffee in the middle of the day, in the middle of July in Florida, could be the closest thing to eating fire. But the “Starbucks stereotype” couldn’t die away [how would everyone show the world they were cool during the summer if they couldn’t stage their selfies with the Starbucks logo showing?] so… ICE COFFEE IT IS for EVERYONE!
Well, at least that was my theory until our friend David handed me a “Lou’s Brew” on the night of the 4th of July. It was hot and I was dangerously close to explosives being wielded by 3 grown men who kept yelling, “HOME OF THE BRAVE!” My “iced coffee principles” were cracking.
“Can I get anyone anything? A drink? I have “Lou’s Brew”— it’s my take on an iced coffee.”
“I don’t think I will like it.”
“Just try it. It’s really good.”
“What’s in it?”
“Chilled, French-pressed coffee… and Coffee Rum.”
Needless to say it was incredible; refreshing, revitalizing, and it helped calmed my nerves as I watched my husband light a Roman Candle from the citronella candle that was on the table right in front of me.
Maybe it was the fireworks and the hypnotizing flashes of “Diamond Rain”… or maybe it was the rum, but on this 4th of July I celebrated America and my new found love of iced coffee. Thank you, David for hosting a lovely party.. and for sharing your recipe.
LOU’S BREW RECIPE
You will need chilled coffee and Coffee Rum or Coffee Liqueur. The proper cup of “Lou’s Brew” uses French Pressed Coffee and Briny Gold Shipwreck Coffee Rum.
If you have a French Press, then prepare your coffee as usual and put it in the refrigerator until it’s chilled. I don’t have a French Press, so I just brewed a regular pot of coffee and chilled it.
I couldn’t find Briny Gold so I used Cayman Reef Dark Roasted Kona Coffee Liqueur.
Combine the chilled coffee and rum using a 2:1 ratio (coffee to rum), top with whipped cream (I added that part), and serve.
It is an EASY drink to prepare that is elegant and refreshing… and powerful. It’s perfect to serve as an “digestif”; a dessert cocktail for guests at a dinner party.
I’ll probably post a selfie with one soon. 😉
Fee Brothers Bitters- A Champagne Cocktail
I love a good story. If there is a history to something or a tale of triumph related to it, I’m all in. I’m buying what you’re selling.
(Full disclosure: I fully consider “beauty product reviews” as tales of triumph.)
I first heard of Fee Brothers in Julia Reed’s book But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria. The book is a collection of funny and endearing essays from Mrs. Reed’s experience that revolves around food and cocktails. Each chapter ends with wonderful, undaunting recipes full of ingredients I had heard of before.
Chapter seventeen is devoted to champagne and ends with a recipe to one of my favorite champagne cocktails, the French 75. Within her musings, she mentions her current “go to” drink of choice that includes a sugar cube, champagne, and Fee Brothers’ Grapefruit Bitters. It sounded simple and delicious… and it is.
Fee Brothers has been around since 1864. Born to Irish immigrants in Rochester, New York, John, Owen, James, and Joseph Fee opened a small grocery and liquor store downtown where they made their own wine. Four generations of Fee Brothers have kept the family business alive despite: fires which burned down their store, the call of duty which pulled John Jr. to enlist in the New York Cavalry to guard the Mexican border against Pancho Villa, and quite possibly the most dangerous… Prohibition.
John Fee Jr. was very clever. He kept the company alive during the 1920’s by making “altar wine” and by capitalizing on the ill-tasting homebrews and bathtub gins amateurs were making illicitly. Fee Brothers began producing cordial syrups to mask the awful taste of the homemade spirits, and instantly creativity kept their family business alive.
The product line now has over 100 products including cocktail mixes, syrups, botanical waters, iced cappuccino mix, and artisanal bitters. And the family line of Fees has produced many resilient men and women who have overcome hardships with determination, and triumphed over historical barriers with ingenuity. The family line even boasts a brilliant comedian in Stephen Colbert who is a direct descendent of John Fee.
This Thanksgiving I added Fee Brothers’ bitters to our family’s celebration; making the refreshing champagne cocktail, telling their family story, and bringing a little bit of the past into the future.
A triumphant tale of family tradition gets me every time.