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Hosting a brunch this weekend? Me, too. Let’s get right to it:

French 75

1/2 oz lemon juice
1 tsp fine sugar
2 oz gin
Shake and strain into a flute, coupe, or wine glass. Top with brut champagne or some other dry, white sparkler.
 
NOTES:
These can be made by the glass, but I like to make a batch of the “mix” ahead of the party (everything but the bubbles). Half goes in the fridge, and the other half goes into the serving glasses and then into the freezer to chill. Ratio of mix to champagne is 1:2, so fill the glasses 1/3 with mix then. When your guests arrive, pull them out, pop the bottle, and fill. Everyone is toasting inside of 90 seconds — it’s impressive. Now, I say half the mix, and I encourage you to take heed. Two of this drink is plenty, and the second is best served with food. Switch to something else for Round 3.
1 tsp fine sugar = 2 tsp of 1:1 simple syrup.
6 tsp = 1 fl oz. (Wink.)
This is not intended as a sweet drink, and the sugar should be only enough to tame the acidity to sip-able levels. Balance. Use your palate. We are going for easy to drink but still refreshing. You may recognize this drink as a Tom Collins with champagne instead of seltzer, and it is perfectly acceptable to serve it in a collins glass over ice if you want something to take to the pool — just dilute it a little less when shaking to compensate.

COMMENTARY:
Ah, the French 75. Not every day does one find one of these, though I have been noting them on a few bar menus here and there — the “cocktail renaissance” and all. Around the time of the Great War, the F75 was popular in the cafes of Paris, and the GIs probably brought it home to the States. It is tempting to think of this romantically, but remember, the war was destructive on an unprecedented scale and Europe was sliding into devastating economic, social, and emotional depression. The drink was named for a 75 mm field piece — the M1879 — those who would know claimed the effects of the cocktail were similar to the concussively-addled sensation of being shelled. Un peu sombre, non?
Still, they weren’t wrong. This tasty and deceptively potent drink hits hard and fast, particularly if you’ve skipped breakfast. Despite its (presumably) ghoulish name, I find this drink is almost universally interpreted as celebratory — perfect for brunch.
 
Drink well.

-Chris

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