While we’ll all be popping a lot of corks this New Year’s Eve, we don’t all have to drink that champagne straight. A champagne cocktail is a wonderful way to switch up the monotony of pour after pour of bubbly. And the absolute best champagne cocktail for New Year’s Eve sipping is the iconic French 75.
This drink dates back to World War I and French artillery. But brass tacks — this is a fancy Tom Collins. A base of dry gin, fresh lemon juice, and sugar is topped with sparkling champagne instead of sparkling water. That’s the main difference but not the only one. Where a Tom Collins uses simple syrup as the sweetener, a French 75 is best made with powdered sugar. The powdered sugar adds a completely different dimension and mouthfeel to the whole drink. So much so, that you might start making your Tom Collins with powdered sugar too!
Beyond those specific points, this drink is super easy to make. You just need to give this one a shake and you’re good to go. Let’s dive in!
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- 1.5 oz. London dry gin
- 0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 barspoon powdered sugar
- 3 oz. dry champagne (very cold)
- 1 lemon peel
You don’t need to break the bank but always buy quality ingredients for cocktails. I’m using Fords London Dry Gin which is specially formulated for mixing cocktails. It tastes great, mixes well, and is easily found at liquor stores. When it comes to a good dry — or “brut” — champagne for this cocktail, I like to go with Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne. It’s a great dry sparkling wine that doesn’t break the bank and works really well with this drink.
It’s also usually between $30 and $40 a bottle, which is a prime price point. The rest of the ingredients are easy to pick up at any grocery store.
What You’ll Need:
- Champagne flute (prechilled)
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Paring knife
- Add the gin, lemon juice, and powdered sugar to a cocktail shaker. Add a large handful of ice and affix the lid. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds — up to 30 — until the cocktail starts to froth.
- Strain the cocktail base into the glass, top with champagne, express the oils of the lemon peel over the glass, and serve.
Okay, this is like a ray of sunshine on a cold wintry night. There’s such a beautiful brightness thanks to the lemon and powdered sugar emulsifying and creating this lemon creaminess to the drink. It’s lush and vibrant.
The gin is just there with a nice botanical kick but it’s very dialed back. There’s more of a faint winter spice with a hint of high desert brush than a funky juniper.
The champagne topper really helps the whole thing come together and pop on the senses. The fizzy bubbles lighten the creaminess of the lemon while the sweet orchard fruit blends perfectly with the gin. This is complimentary in every way. It’s also goddamn delicious.
Happy New Year, folks!