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The French 76 is a classic cocktail that has been around for ages. It’s a spinoff of the original French 75 that was created over 100 years ago. The French 76 is easy to make, and it’s perfect for brunch, happy hours, or special occasions.
The French 76 is a cocktail made from vodka and champagne, which many people enjoy. It is complemented with lemon juice and customarily served in a flute with a cocktail cherry. This bubbly drink has a light, sweet, and citrus flavor.
This article explores what’s in a French 76, what it tastes like, and how it became such a popular drink. Keep reading.
What Does a French 76 Taste Like?
A French 76 tastes sweet, with a light and citrus flavor. This cocktail is fizzy, flavorful, and has just the right lemon zing to balance out the sweet flavor. People describe the French 76 as tasteful, sophisticated, classy, and elegant.
The main ingredients for French 76 are vodka and champagne.
Vodka is traditionally tasteless. However, most vodkas have hints of different fruits and spices, such as lemon or ginger. Many vodkas differ in their texture. Some are smooth and creamy, and others are described as oily or silky.
Champagne, on the other hand, is traditionally sweet. It has almond undertones and notes of fruit. Dry champagne is more “bready,” with notes of crisp fruits such as apples or melons. Sweeter champagnes are fruity and can have peach, cherry, citrus, or other fruity notes.
Because of its light, bubbly nature, the French 76 makes a great drink for parties or special occasions.
What’s in the French 76?
There are vodka, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup in the French 76. Traditionally, it’s served with a cocktail cherry at the base of the glass. However, lemon garnishes are also suitable for this classy cocktail.
The following discusses the ingredients for making the French 76:
- Vodka: Vodka is the base alcohol of a French 76.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice gives a French 76 its crisp and citrusy taste.
- Simple syrup: The syrup is an essential part of the cocktail that makes it sweet. It balances out the lemon juice and makes the drink enjoyable.
- Champagne: This ingredient tops the French 76 and gives the drink an airy and bubbly quality and additional hints of sweet flavor.
- Maraschino Cherry: The Maraschino Cherry is used as a garnish for the French 76 cocktail and is a tasty treat once you finish the drink. This ingredient is extremely sweet and can bring out the fruity notes in the cocktail.
A lemon peel can also garnish the French 76 instead of a Maraschino Cherry. Using a lemon peel will enhance its citrus flavor and provide a bright, colorful addition to the cocktail.
What Is the Best Vodka To Use in a French 76?
Vodka and champagne are the two most prominent ingredients in the French 76. So, choosing the right vodka and champagne is essential to get a quality French 76. Check out these vodka options you can use for making your French 76:
- Belvedere: This Polish vodka is organic, distilled by fire, and made from purified water and Polish rye. With multiple organic flavor infusions to choose from, you can find the perfect option.
- Ketel One Vodka: Ketel One Vodka is an excellent value with excellent taste. This Netherland-based vodka is made from 110% non-GMO wheat and contains subtly sweet citrus and herb notes, which will enhance the flavor.
- Tito’s: For an American-made option, try Tito’s Handmade Vodka, made in Austin, Texas. The 80-proof vodka is made from yellow corn and is micro-distilled and gluten-free.
- Absolut: Absolut is a Swedish vodka. It boasts a rich flavor with a smooth finish. It’s crisp and made from completely natural ingredients with no artificial sweeteners. With multiple flavors to choose from, you’re sure to find the best fit for your cocktail.
- SVEDKA: For a more affordable option, opt for SVEDKA vodka. This Swedish vodka is made from spring water and corn, and it is distilled four times. It is crisp and tasteful with mild sweet notes from the corn.
What Champagne Should I Use in a French 76?
You can use brut champagne. It is a popular choice as it is the driest type of champagne and pairs well with the sweet cocktail. Thanks to champagne, your drink can get a nice bubbly texture.
If you need a few suggestions, check out this list of beverages to include in your French 76:
- Veuve Clicquot: This is a bottle of high-quality drink made in Reims, France, in one of the largest champagne houses. Veuve Clicquot offers various brut champagnes, including a brut Rose, which has strawberry, ginger, and peach notes.
- Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque: This premium French brut champagne has hints of fruit, citrus, and ginger in a smooth finish. It’s bold, creamy, and crisp and will work well in a French 76.
Alternatively, you may also try Korbel. This American sparkling wine is an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable and quality champagne-like option. It contains hints of citrus and cinnamon and notes of vanilla and strawberry. Korbel offers other varieties as well, including extra dry and organic, so you have plenty of options for making your French 76.
Where Did the French 76 Originate?
The French 76 originated from the classic cocktail: the French 75, which uses gin instead of vodka. Also known as the Canon de 75 modèle 1897, the French 75 originated during World War I and got its name from one of the most famous guns of the time, the French 75.
The French 75 is named after the 75 mm shells the weapons used. As the gun gained popularity, its name became more popular in civil society, and people began using the term “French 75” to name various items.
Most people believe the cocktail was initially created in 1915 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. When the cocktail was first conceived, it is believed that the drink was so strong that people described it as being hit by a French 75. Thus, the French 75 cocktail was born. When vodka replaced gin, it was only natural to update the number to create the classic French 76.
How To Make an Amazing French 76
Follow the instructions below to start making this tasty and classy cocktail:
- Gather the best ingredients. Choosing the right vodka and champagne is crucial.
- Choose alcohol that will pair well together. It doesn’t have to be pricey to taste good. Look at the notes in the vodka and make sure they will complement the undertones in the champagne.
- Don’t forget to shake it up. You’ll need to shake the cocktail to mix the flavors. Shake multiple drinks in one cocktail shaker with ice if you’re making a large batch.
- Don’t skip the garnish. Presentation is everything. Choose a lovely champagne flute and a garnish that will complement the drink, whether garnished with a cherry, lemon twist, lime, apricot, or another fruit.
How To Spice Up Your French 76 Cocktail
The French 76 is a classic cocktail, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change it to give it a new taste, texture, or style. Check out these ways you can spice up a classic French 76 cocktail.
Substitute the Champagne With a Different Sparkling Wine
You don’t always need to make a French 76 with champagne. Below are great alternatives to traditional champagne:
- Sparkling rosé: This sparkling wine is rich, complex, and vibrant with flavor. It’s a full-bodied kind of alcohol that is sweet and fruity. Sparkling rosé is made worldwide and is available in a wide range of styles and tastes.
- Prosecco: This beverage is an Italian sparkling wine. Prosecco is generally sweeter than traditional champagne and contains more fruity undertones.
- Cava: This is a Spanish sparkling wine and tastes more similar to champagne than Prosecco. Cava is made from white grapes instead of the red grapes primarily used in champagne. It generally has more citrus notes than its counterparts and is a little less sweet than sparkling rosé or other champagnes.
Replace Your Simple Syrup With a Sour Mix
Add more flavor to your cocktail by replacing the simple syrup with a sour mix for a bolder, citrus taste. Sour mix is simple syrup with additional lemon and lime juice.
The French 76 already uses lemon juice as an ingredient. However, try adding lemon and lime juice to the syrup for a punchier taste. It will give the cocktail a richer and more crisp taste.
Premade sour mix is also sold in stores, so you can purchase one if you don’t want to make your own.
French 76 Recipe
- Champagne Flute Glass
- Cocktail Shaker
- 1 oz Vodka
- 2-3 oz Champagne
- 3/4 oz Lemon Juice (Fresh)
- 1/4 oz Simple Syrup
- Ice (For Cocktail Shaker)
- Lemon Peel (Garnish)
- Maraschino Cherry (Garnish)
- Add Vodka, Lemon Juice, Simple Sugar, and Ice to Cocktail Shaker.
- Shake and strain cocktail into a Champagne Flute Glass.
- Top with Champagne.
- Garnish with Maraschino Cherry and Lemon Peel on rim of glass.
- Try the French 76 Cocktail Recipe with Lemon Vodka for a stronger and tasty lemon taste.
Final Cocktail Thoughts
The French 76 is a classy cocktail derived from the original classic French 75, which got its name from a popular field gun in World War I. For this favorite cocktail you add vodka as a base instead of gin and is a light and bubbly drink with both sweet and tangy citrus elements. The cocktail is topped with champagne and traditionally served in a flute with a cocktail cherry.
Serve as it is, or change it up by changing the garnish, replacing the champagne with another sparkling wine, or replacing the simple syrup with a sour mix. Either way this is one of the all-time best tasting vodka and champagne cocktails.
Similar Cocktail Recipes
The French 75 is the original version of this cocktail, but uses Gin instead of vodka for a slightly more herbal taste to the cocktail.
Looking for a French cocktail with a little more kick. The French 95 replaces the vodka with whiskey, for a slight sweet wood and char taste.
Similar to this recipe, the Vodka sour has a strong lemon taste with a bit more complexity to it. There is a reason why this is one of the most popular cocktails around.
Try one here.