To be honest, we're firmly in the “don't make dinner reservations for Valentine's Day” camp. Save the special evenings for anniversaries, celebrations of achievements or special events, or heck, any random Friday night. Those are guaranteed to be more “romantic,” memorable, and special.
So, if you wanna do something fun on the 14th, make this cocktail…
It's called a French 75, and here's why it's the ultimate Valentine's Day cocktail:
- It involves champagne, but isn't just, you know, a glass of champagne. The cocktail relies on sparkling wine's effervescence and flavor, but is fortified with other ingredients, saving money and stretching the bottle to last all night.
- It's fresh and easy to drink, so if your sweetheart isn't super into spirit-forward cocktails, this is one that most anyone can get into.
- Since its citrus season, lemons are at their peak right now, turning a cold, dark February night into something bright and playful.
- It's a basic recipe that doesn't require any exotic liquors, or spirits you won't use again. But, if you're into it, you can easily fancy it up to include your sweetheart's favorite flavors.
- The drink is named for a potent piece of French field artillery from World War I, the 75-millimeter M1897, a small canon known for its rapid and efficient firing capabilities. So it's got a built-in little anecdote that you use to entertain your date while you whip these up. Also, insert jokes about small canons and rapid firing…
The French 75
- 2 oz. London Dry Gin
- 1/2 oz. 1:1 simple syrup (dissolve sugar in an equal part boiling water)
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 4-5 oz. Brut champagne
- Garnish: lemon twist
Directions: Make the simple syrup ahead of time and allow to cool. Zest the lemon with a peeler or paring knife, then juice. Combine the gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker (or Mason jar) and shake with ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with cracked ice and add champagne. Finish by twisting the lemon peel over the drink and adding to the glass.
Some additional notes and thoughts:
- There's a reason this thing is named after a canon. It's strong. With two ounces of gin and the champagne, it's basically a double. Not that that's a problem, but just be aware.
- You might note that this isn't served in a champagne flute. That's because: champagne flutes are dumb. Don't own a set of glasses you can only use for one drink. Champagne tastes better out of a wine glass anyway. If you have some coupe or larger martini glasses, those are cool: just omit the extra ice. But I think the iced tall glass works best here.
- The basic recipe is classic, and more than 75 years old (probably). But you can spice this one up if you'd like: add some fresh herbs to the syrup. Use meyer lemon juice. Add a drop or two of bitters. Try other winter citrus. Just remember the ratio, and you'll come up with something drinkable.
Cheers. Happy Valentine's Day.