After a brief and unintended cocktail-related hiatus, the Beartender is back with a new temptation! I hope you enjoy.
A Month With Significance
It is said that March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” A decidedly kinky take on that would suggest that March is one of the truly submissive months on the calendar, perhaps maintaining pretences of assertiveness at the outset while leaving the month a purring, contented, slutty mess by the end. Of course, I might just be projecting here.
The origins of this particular saying probably come from astronomy, referencing the positions of Leo (the lion) and Aries (the ram, or lamb) in the night sky. It is also a proverb that has been around for a very long time. The first reference apparently emerges in a collection of analogies and proverbs by Thomas Fuller that dates to 1732.
Also, my Goddess was born in March. So there’s that!
Requiring Cocktails of Substance
Mostly we now accept the phrase as a reference to the fact that March starts off as an often brutally cold month, that progressively improves and ends up looking like something towards spring. This varies, of course, and my Goddess likely won’t see something that predictably looks like spring until somewhere towards May. I’ll keep her cozy, cuddled and well taken care of until then.
If we’re going to find a cocktail worthy of the month, it’s going to have to have a balance of fortitude and delicacy. Robust enough to do the business at the start of the month, and elegant and refined enough to see its way into something that feels like . That’s a tall order. The colder months feel like they want spirits, while a shift to warmer temperatures suggest something a little more refined.
Fortunately, our cocktail for March can do double duty. Strong enough to deliver the goods, and dignified and classy enough to keep you sipping long into the summer months, should your inclinations run that way.
Hitting With Precision
My cocktail for March is one that has been around for some time now. It has the street cred that longevity offers, but looks still manages to make you look credibly luxe in the most elegant of situations. It has been enjoyed for decades in a variety of forms, and still has staying power to this day; that if nothing else should be a testament to how good it feels to sip on.
The first incarnation of the drink is reputed to have been introduced at Harry’s American Bar in Paris during World War I (the earliest date is around 1915), which bartender Harry MacElhone named after a French field gun (on the auspices that drinking it felt like being shelled with said weaponry). This version differs from what we know now, in that it incorporated Calvados, gin, grenadine and absinthe.
It has been refined over the years (there is some indication the current incarnation may have originated in Henry’s Bar (also in Paris), ultimately taking its current form, a concoction of gin, lemon, sugar and champagne. The result is an absolute classic of a cocktail: the French 75.
The French 75
In France, the drink is still known as the “soixante-quinze” (or 75). Elsewhere, it is a French 75. First published in a cocktail collection called “Here’s How” by Judge Jr., it was popularized in 1930 in the Savoy Cocktail Book, written by Harry Craddock. Craddock was the head bartender of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. Of the drink, he was noted as saying, “It hits with remarkable precision.”
The French 75 has a storied legacy. It was popularized in America at the Stork Club. It also appeared in Casablanca, as well as apparently in no less than two John Wayne movies (A Man Betrayed, and Jet Pilot).
You can love the drink for its remarkable history. I adore it because it tastes amazing, and satisfies like nothing else quite like it. Dignified, devastating and absolutely delightful.
What You’ll Need
A small pot (because we’re cooking again)
A wooden spoon or silicone stirrer (no, this isn’t the kinky part)
A cocktail shaker (we’ll be shaking, because our drink includes non-alcoholic components)
A champagne flute (although you could make do with a Tom Collins glass)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1.5 oz. gin
4 oz sparkling wine (champagne if you’re decadent; Crémant d’Alsace if you want to be decadent on a budget)
Peel of lemon
Make the simple syrup. Stir equal parts of water and sugar over heat until the sugar melts and you have pure liquid. You can store what you don’t use in the fridge for about two weeks (but don’t push beyond this much).
Add 3/4 oz. of simple syrup, 3/4 oz. lemon juice and 1.5 oz. of gin to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly, and decant into a champagne flute.
Top with the sparkling wine of your choice. Garnish with a peel of lemon.