Summer is almost here and what better way to celebrate than a French inspired fête or with a cocktail in hand. From the popular classic Kir Royale to the modern creation The Montparnasse, these cocktails are best enjoyed en terrace avec les amis (on the patio with friends.)
The French 75 was created in the New York bar in Paris in 1915 during World War I. Harry MacElhone, creator of the cocktail described the combination “as to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75-millimeter (M1897) field gun”. For a champagne cocktail, it packs a punch. Made with dry gin, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup it’s heartier than most but well balanced. Best served very cold, in a chilled champagne or Collins glass.
Inspired by the classic Italian Negroni cocktail, the French version uses Lillet wine instead of Campari. Lillet is an aperitif wine from the Bordeaux region made of 85% of a combination of Bordeaux wines and 15% citrus liqueurs, which gives the French Negroni sweetness and a delicate citrus flavor. Equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Lillet beautifully balanced by a twist of orange, combine to create this chic & delicious cocktail.
The Kir Classic & Kir Royale
Named after the mayor of Dijon, France, Felix Kir invented the Kir Cassis cocktail known as “blanc-cassis” in France. The most iconic of all French cocktails, it is also one of the easiest with only two ingredients, creme de cassis de Dijon (Blackcurrant liqueur) and a white wine from burgundy called Bourgogne Aligoté. Looking for something festive? Add champagne instead of white wine for a Kir Royale. To make this at home combine one part creme de cassis to four parts white wine or champagne.
Created in the 1920’s, there is some debate as to where the recipe originated, Paris or France. To make the “French school” version of this cocktail, combine equal parts cognac, orange liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier) and lemon juice or try this delicious version by Brooke Demchuk. Traditionally, the recipe is slightly sour and is served with a sugared rim to balance it out. If you don’t want a sugared rim, add a dash of simple syrup instead. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
The Montparnasse is a French-inspired wine-based cocktail, thanks to the use of Calvados, an apple brandy made in the French region of Normandy. To create this delicious apple flavored cocktail, combine 3 ounces (oz) Calvados, 1.5 oz St. Germain with 1 oz each of freshly squeezed lemon juice and sauvignon blanc wine. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with wafer-thin apple slice.
The French Blonde
The French Blonde is a floral and fruity citrus drink perfect for the summer season. Elderflower liqueur, Lillet wine, gin and grapefruit juice combine to create the prettiest French Blonde cocktail. This version by Emily Cliffton uses a pink grapefruit giving it an orange shade instead of the traditional “blonde” color. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit.
A summer favorite, The Lumière is a refreshing French-inspired cocktail that combines gin, St. Germain, green Chartreuse, lime juice and a dash of bitters for a slightly sweet & smooth cocktail. From the Grenoble region in France, Chartreuse liqueur is distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers giving it the green color and herbal flavor. It is one of a handful of liqueurs that continue to age beautifully in the bottle. Santé!