Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pairing the French 75 with Shrimp Cocktail

Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup topped with champagne create a French 75.
Now, doesn’t that sound good? Perfect with some shrimp cocktail.
For such a light and refreshing drink to be named after heavy World War I artillery is incongruous but also poetic. The French 75 has reemerged recently as one of the most popular drinks on bar menus throughout the US. Imagine a Tom Collins topped with your favorite champagne, and you have the French 75. Keep bottles of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, some simple syrup, and gin at your bar, make sure a bottle of champagne (or some Sofia cans) are chilling on ice, and keep the recipe visible. That way your guests can help themselves. All you have to do do is encourage vigorous shaking to get this delicate drink cold. (Just keep a jigger handy to keep out the guesswork.)

French 75
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces gin (preferably one redolent with juniper)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup*
1 to 2 ounces champagne (depending on your preference; more, if you like)
lemon twist, as garnish
brandied cherry, as garnish
ice (the more champagne, the less ice), optional

Shake gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup for 15 seconds in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into wine goblet or highball glass (with some ice cubes, if you like). Top with champagne. (Add more ice if necessary.) Garnish with lemon twist and cherry.

* Simple Syrup
Over low heat, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water (stir occasionally). Remove from heat, cool in container, and refrigerate for up to a month.

Tips & Tricks

For the past few decades, we all think of flutes as the traditional champagne cocktail vessel. We have over a dozen in our sideboard, and we use them quite a bit. But for the French 75, we wanted to try something a little different and chose a wine goblet. You’ll add a little unexpected touch to your cocktail party. But if you want to go traditional and use champagne flutes, then go right ahead. You can cut an extra long lemon twist and let it drape down the outside of the flute.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT GIN is a very important part of the French 75 process. If we want a light drink that doesn’t overpower the lemon, we’ll perhaps choose Bulldog. If we want a more juniper-tasting cocktail, we’ll opt for some Tanqueray. Experiment with what you already have, and grow from there.


Nothing could be easier than shrimp cocktail, and it’s so perfect paired with the French 75. The spiky tang of traditional cocktail sauce (ketchup and horseradish) brightens the lemon juice and whatever herbs and spices inform the gin, making your taste buds very happy. Make this your go-to hors d’oeuvre when you’re in a hurry or tired but still crave something satisfying. Frozen shrimp is great to keep on hand, but we recommend getting the raw shrimp with the shell on. The flavor is deeper, much more complex—with a hint of the sea.

Shrimp Cocktail

A good rule of thumb is that 2 pounds of shrimp in their shells will yield about 11/4 pounds when peeled.

Allow about 3/4 pound headless shrimp in the shell per person; if the shrimp are shelled, about 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person.

Simply boil shrimp for 3 to 5 minutes in salted water. Cook until they turn pink, and then rinse in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce.


Tom Collins
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

For a Collins (or tall) glass
2 1/2 ounces gin (try Hendrick’s and then try a London dry and Plymouth to see what works best for you)
1 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2–3 ounces club soda
orange wheel and cherry, as garnish

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into ice-filled collins glass. Top with soda. Add garnish, speared, and rest on rim.

For a rocks (or short) glass
1 1/2 ounces gin (we also like G’Vine Floraison)
2/3 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces club soda
cherry and orange half-moon slice

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks or old-fashioned glass. Top with soda. Add garnish, speared, and rest on rim.

photos © Steve Schul

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