During a delightful dinner recently at Park City’s Firewood restaurant, beverage expert Greg Ceccarelli suggested a cocktail to kick the evening off: the French 75. However, he had a trick up his sleeve. This French 75 was made using cognac, where gin is the more typical spirit of choice for the cocktail. I learned that, apparently, there is debate and some fogginess amongst boozy historians as to whether the original French 75 was made with gin or with cognac.
The drink is named for the Canon de 75 Modèle 1897, a French 75mm piece of artillery that figured into the Allied Forces victory during World War 1. Or at least, that’s how one story goes. However, the first time the French 75 recipe is documented in print was in 1927, where it was made with gin, lemon juice, powdered sugar and Champagne. Some have called it “Tom Collins in a tux.” Others mixologists say that the French 75 was initially made using cognac, which would make sense if it indeed originated in France. By the way, did you know that the French 75 is mentioned in the movie Casablanca?
Anyway, today, the French 75 is usually made using London Dry Gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar and Champagne. But I must say that I prefer the scrumptious version that they mix up at Firewood, where cognac is substituted for gin. Whether it is historically accurate or not, I don’t really care. I just love sipping that classic (or not-so classic) cocktail in advance of a fabulous Firewood feast.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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