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11 Classic French Cocktail Recipes With Elegant Appeal

Karen Frazier
French 75 Cocktails

France has long been known for its culinary know-how and delights, and that extends beyond food and wine to classic French cocktails. As they do with food and wine, the French know how to make a balanced and pleasing cocktail. These 11 classic French mixed drinks are sure to please your palate, whether you make them at home or order them in a bar.

1. Classic French 75 Cocktail

The French 75 is having a moment right now, and why wouldn't it? This light, aromatic, effervescent cocktail is the perfect balance of Champagne (or you can substitute sparkling wine from other countries, such as Prosecco or Cava or use Crémant from France), lemon juice, and aromatic dry gin. Keep it super French by using a French gin, such as Citadelle and an affordable French Champagne, such as Veuve Clicquot yellow label brut. Use a Champagne you'd drink by itself, but don't use a super expensive sparkling wine - save that for sipping on its own.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • ¾ freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1½ ounces dry gin
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces Champagne, chilled
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the simple syrup, lemon juice, and gin.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a Champagne flute.
  4. Top with the Champagne, stirring briefly.
  5. Garnish with a lemon peel.

2. Sidecar

Cognac and Armagnac are French brandies that have a deep complexity and beautiful flavor profile. They are also the base of the sidecar, a classic French cocktail that also includes Cointreau, an orange liqueur from France. You'll also need freshly squeezed lemon juice, ice, and a lemon peel garnish to make this classic sidecar recipe. Serve it straight up in a chilled coupe.

Sidecar cocktail drink

3. 1789

The 1789 was invented in Paris as a nod to the year the Bastille was stormed. It is a cocktail filled with classic French ingredients including Bonal Quina, a French apéritif wine, and Lillet Blanc, a French aromatized wine. Make it completely French by choosing a French whiskey, such as Bastille whiskey.

1789 cocktail

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce Bonal Quina
  • ½ ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the Bonal Quina, Lillet Blanc, and whiskey.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel.

4. Kir Royale

The kir royale is a simple combination of Champagne and another French liqueur, crème de cassis, which is made from blackcurrants. When combined, the result is a beautiful, fizzy cocktail that's equal parts aromatic and sweet with a bitter hint from the currants. It's a delicious and easy to make cocktail. Try this kir royale recipe.

Kir Royale cocktail

5. Kir

The kir cocktail is a non fizzy kir royale. Use a dry French white wine, such as a dry white Burgundy made from Chardonnay or Aligoté. Don't spend an arm and a leg on the wine you choose, but do select a wine you'd drink by itself. Serve straight up, ungarnished, in a chilled wine glass or coupe.

Kir cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce crème de cassis
  • 6 ounces chilled French white wine

Instructions

  1. Chill a coupe or white wine glass.
  2. Pour the crème de cassis into the chilled coupe. Top with the wine.

6. Rose Cocktail

The rose cocktail was invented in Paris in the 1920s. It's an aromatic pink cocktail that's a sweet, cherry flavored variation on a classic martini. It uses French ingredients including dry vermouth, kirsch (cherry brandy), and dry gin.

Rose cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • ¾ ounce kirsch
  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the dry vermouth, kirsch, and gin.
  3. Add ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with the cherry.

7. Black Rose

The black rose is a blackberry flavored variation on the traditional rose cocktail. Like its sister cocktail, it's aromatic and slightly sweet, but it has a dark edge from the blackberry ingredients.

Black rose cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • ¾ ounce Chambord
  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • Ice
  • Blackberries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vermouth, Chambord, and gin.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a blackberry.

8. French Martini

There are several different recipes for French martinis, and all have their merits. The classic is made with pineapple juice, Chambord, vermouth, and vodka or dry gin. The ingredients are shaken with ice and served straight up in a chilled martini glass. Garnish isn't necessary, but a lemon twist adds an elegant touch. The result is a sweet and aromatic French cocktail.

French martini

9. Le Forum

Le Forum is the name of a cocktail bar in Paris, and it's also the name of the signature cocktail from that bar. It's a combination of aromatic gin, dry French vermouth (Noilly Prat extra dry is typically the choice), and a splash of the French orange liqueur, Grand Mariner. Serve it chilled, straight up, in a martini glass.

Le forum cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1½ ounces dry gin
  • Splash of Grand Marnier
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vermouth, gin, and Grand Marnier.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

10. French Connection

It doesn't get much simpler than the French connection, a Cognac and amaretto cocktail served on ice in a rocks glass. The ratio of amaretto to Cognac is 1:1, so it's a very easy cocktail to remember.

French Connection cocktail

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1½ ounces amaretto
  • 1½ ounces Cognac

Instructions

  1. Add a few cubes of ice to a rocks glass.
  2. Add the amaretto and Cognac. Stir gently.

11. Mimosa

The mimosa is a deliciously simple French Champagne cocktail often served for brunch. The basic Mimosa recipe is a simple combination of orange juice and Champagne with an orange twist or slice as garnish. It's served chilled in a Champagne flute.

Mimosa cocktail

Deliciously Balanced Classic French Cocktails

French cocktails contain classic French ingredients in a delicious balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and strong. So the next time you're feeling a little continental, shake up a classic French mixed drink.

11 Classic French Cocktail Recipes With Elegant Appeal