A few months ago, The Bearded Gamer and I were away with some of his lovely friends for a weekend up the coast. One of these friends was quite the mixologist and brought with him all manner of boozy delights (ever tried orange bitters? I hadn't) with him to make cocktails for everyone. The moment I was handed an Old Fashioned and took a sip, I was hooked. Not hooked in the "Hi, My Name is Anna...." way, but hooked in the way I used to get when the new Harry Potter book would be released (confession: I took the day off work to read the final book).
The long and the short of it is; I had to learn how to make cocktails. And not just any cocktails, they had to have a history to them.
Each month I will be posting a new classic cocktail (no jugs of Illusions here, let's leave them in 1996 where they belong) to share with you and hopefully impart some of the history and romance behind each drink.
Many of the cocktails will come from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Ted Haig which I downloaded for Kindle. This book is serious cocktail romanticism at its finest, full of historical anecdotes with a smattering of humour. I read it from e-cover to e-cover in two nights.
The first cab off the rank for 2012 is The French 75. The reason why I chose to make this first is because it contains two of my current favourite drinks; champagne (or sparkling white wine) and gin. You will need to make a sugar syrup for this. This is a simple as adding equal parts water and sugar to a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved.
The French 75 was named after the mainstay weapon in World War 1; The French 75mm field gun. Because of the precision and quick-firing ability of this advanced piece of artillery, the French 75 mm continued to remain in service throughout World War 2. The French 75 cocktail was created in 1915 by barman Harry MacElhone at The New York Bar in Paris but the first printed recipe was found in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930.
"Hits with remarkable precision"
There was much debate as to whether the drink should contain cognac instead of gin (cognac being French and all) however, the original printed recipe states that gin is the spirit of choice for the French 75, and as I didn't have any cognac handy, gin was the natural choice for me. This drink is so smooth and delicate to drink, but on the other hand it does pack a serious punch, I came over all warm and fuzzy after this. I have only just begun and I think this is going to be my favourite!
And on that note, I give you:
The French 75
2 fl oz gin
1 fl oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar syrup
Sparkling white wine - seriously, there is no point pulling out your best bottle of bubbles here, you will never tell the difference.
2 strips of lemon rind (without the pith) trimmed and wrapped around a chopstick to make a spring, for garnish.
Pour the gin, syrup and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker, add about a tray's worth of ice cubes and now shake.
Pour into either a tall glass or champagne flute (I used my favourite champagne coupes here) and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
In other news: I have finally joined the land of Facebook! Just click on the link in the top right hand corner to check out my page. I will be posting all my blog updates as well as showcasing some of my favourite blogs and other foodie-related material. Go on, you know you want to....