Over these next several months, we’ll have plenty of reasons to celebrate: Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and the holidays beyond. Whatever you find yourself toasting to, you never want to show up to a gathering empty handed, virtual or otherwise.
When we think about family or friend gatherings, Champagne is almost always included in the conversation. There are several classic, celebratory Champagne cocktails you can make: the classic Champagne cocktail, a Bellini, and a French 75.
All three are simple to make and grand for any occasion. In my opinion though, a French 75 takes the cake. It’s light, citrus-forward, and contains all the bubbly. What’s great about this cocktail is how versatile it is. You can make it with pretty much any spirit of your choice: gin, vodka, tequila, cognac, the list goes on.
The same applies to the citrus. Lemon is most commonly used, but try lime, pineapple, or blood orange juice to shake things up. The syrup is where you can really get creative and introduce other flavor profiles. I always recommend taking into account the season in which we find ourselves and creating a syrup that incorporates your favorite fall flavors.
That’s exactly what we did with this fall variation on a French 75—which we’re calling a Fall 75. —Apartment Bartender
1 1/2 ounces
cognac or gin
blood orange juice
vanilla berry syrup (recipe below)
brut Champagne (recommended: G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon Brut) or your favorite dry sparkling wine
Vanilla Berry Syrup
mixed berries, fresh or frozen
vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
Combine the cognac or gin, blood orange juice, and vanilla berry syrup (recipe below) into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a Champagne flute and top with Champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with a blood orange slice.
Vanilla Berry Syrup
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, berries (I used late-season blackberries, but whatever berries can find will work wonderfully), and vanilla bean pod. Bring to a light simmer until the berries split and begin to release their juice. Add in the sugar and gently stir to dissolve. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain out the berries and vanilla seeds and store the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Elliott Clark, also known as the Apartment Bartender, is a well-respected tastemaker, cocktail creator, spirits writer, and photographer in the spirits industry. What started out as a hobby for making cocktails at home has developed into a full-blown career that takes Elliott all over the world mixing drinks for some of the world’s most notable brands, and making the world of spirits more accessible to the at-home cocktail enthusiast.