French 75: the ultimate cocktail for festive hosting

by Great British Chefs 18 November 2022

A classy classic, the French 75 is a cocktail made for a soirée and with Christmas fast approaching there’s nothing better for a festive gathering. We find out more about this distinctly Gallic concoction and take a look at what food to serve alongside it.

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Whilst there’s certainly a time and place for cocktails with an acquired taste such as martinis and negronis, they can so often divide a crowd. Sometimes you want to serve guests something which is sure to prove a winner and the French 75 is exactly that. Known in France simply as a Soixante Quinze, the French 75 has been a favourite amongst cocktail lovers for over a century now and for good reason: it balances elegance with simplicity, bitterness with sweetness, and punchiness with subtlety.

Typically served in a flute, a French 75 is made by shaking together Champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup but when hosting, you can make your life a lot easier by using a premixed version. MOTH’s ready-to-drink French 75 has all the elegance of one that’s been freshly made but simply needs pouring into an icy flute before serving. MOTH partner with premium spirit brands and their French 75 uses Tarquin’s Cornish gin to take it to the next level. As the festive season arrives, MOTH’s cans of French 75 are the perfect way of bringing a touch of class to any Christmas gathering with minimal effort.

You might expect a cocktail as elegant as the French 75 to have an equally glamourous origin but it is in fact named after the French 75-millimetre field gun – a cannon used prolifically by the French army during World War 1. The cannon became known over time simply as Soixante Quinze and became somewhat of a symbol of hope for the French throughout the war. It’s no surprise therefore, that when the cocktail was first made at Paris’s Henry’s Bar in 1915 the bartender chose to name his concoction after this famous cannon, due to the fact it was said to be as deadly as the gun itself. One story has it that the French 75 actually got its name from the fact that soldiers on the front drank something similar out of used shell cartridges though this may be legend.

First appearing under the name French 75 in recipe book ‘Here’s Now!’ in 1927, the now famous cocktail fast grew in popularity over the next two decades, making an appearance in the movie Casablanca and becoming a stalwart of cocktail menus on the other side of the Atlantic too. Today the French 75 is, without doubt, a celebratory cocktail thanks to the Champagne, although the bubbles can be replaced with sparkling water to create a Tom Collins. Some cocktail experts actually believe that the French 75 is simply a variation on a Tom Collins and should therefore be served in a highball glass rather than a flute.

Regardless of how it ought to be served, the French 75 is a definitely a drink best saved for special occasions. That’s why MOTH’s canned French 75 is a particularly great addition to any Christmas party or gathering, as ready-made yet sophisticated accompaniment to a festive spread. You can get 20% of your first order at MOTH using the code MOTHXGBC20.

If you’re planning on hosting this Christmas and need some inspiration as to what food you should be serving alongside French 75s, take a look at some recipe suggestions below.

Prawn cocktail canapés

A classic for a reason, prawn cocktails never fail to go down well with a crowd. This recipe involves serving prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves, turning it into a brilliant festive canapé that’s best enjoyed with a French 75 in the other hand.

Organic turkey sausage meat pastry puffs

It’s not always practical to roast and carve an entire turkey when hosting for a lot of people but these turkey pastry puffs from Lisa Goodwin-Allen are a great way of giving guests a taster without going the whole hog. Served alongside a moreish homemade brown sauce, these sumptuous bites won’t last long at a Christmas party.

Salmon tartare with beetroot, orange and pear

If you’re planning on hosting more of a formal dinner party, this salmon and beetroot tartare could be the perfect starter. Colourful on the plate and rich with citrus and chives, there are few things better to eat alongside a flute full of French 75.

Five-bird roast

Although some people might want to keep things as easy as possible when hosting over Christmas, there are others who see it as an opportunity to go all out in the kitchen. If you’re in the latter camp, look no further than James Mackenzie’s five-bird roast, which brings together duck, chicken, grouse, pheasant and partridge in a true showstopper!

The Langham's mince pies

The mince pie has long been a staple of Christmas get-togethers but this stunning take on the traditional sweet treat elevates it to a whole new level. Executive pastry chef at The Langham Andrew Gravett sandwiches spiced dry fruit encased in almond cream between two sablé biscuits to create mince pies which won’t be forgotten in a hurry.