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7 Classic French cocktail recipes

Drawings of classic French cocktail recipes

There are some things that are such an intrinsically French way of life that just doing them imparts a little joie de vivre to our lives, wherever we are. Eating the end of a baguette for instance (which is called a crouton or a quignon in France, depending on where you’re from). Dipping your croissant in coffee (ok maybe that’s not for everyone – but the croissant, absolutely). A cocktail at aperitif time – the ritual of celebrating the end of the day with friends. For a taste of France, these classic French cocktails will bring out your inner bartender’s happy hour…

7 delicious French cocktails

Kir Royale

Popular throughout France, the Kir Royale is pretty much an anytime, anywhere kind of cocktail. Legend has it that during Blanc-cassis, a white wine and crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur made in Burgundy) mix was popular in Burgundy. It was renamed a Kir in honour of the much loved Major of Dijon, Felix Kir. No one knows who decided to try Champagne instead of white wine but the idea caught on pretty quickly.

You can use any sparkling wine as well, then it’s called a Kir Pettilant.

Death in the afternoon

It takes a bit of genius and a bit of madness to come up with the idea of mixing madness inducing absinthe with Champagne.  But that’s just what American author in 1930s Paris Ernest Hemingway did. The cocktail lives up to its name Death in the Afternoon. The writer, who was known for being a fan of lots of alcohol recommended three to five of these drunk slowly from a Champagne glass for optimal effect. Not for the faint hearted the mix consists of “A jigger of absinthe” according to Hemingway (1.5 oz/45 ml) absinthe and enough Champagne to make it look milky (4.5 oz/140ml) or 1 part absinthe to 3 parts Champagne.

Chambord Kiss Cocktail Recipe

The Chambord Kiss a recipe from Chambord Liqueur is a delicious treat any time of the year. Chambord is made from raspberries. Produced in the Loire Valley, the recipe was created in 1685 during Louis XIV’s visit to the Chateau of Chambord. It’s sold in beautiful round bottles with posh stoppers that look like regal perfume bottles. The deep purple liqueur is flavoured with vanilla and cognac and is sweet and sophisticated.

For a Chambord kiss, and really who can resist, just mix:

50ml Irish Cream
25ml Chambord

The Sidecar

The Sidecar’s history has long been debated, but one legend involves an American captain who often travelled to a Parisian bar in the sidecar of his friend’s motorbike! Simply shake two parts Cointreau with two parts Cognac and one part lemon juice. Jazz it up with a sugar rim on the glass.


The d’Artagnan is named after the fourth Musketeer, a native of Gascony and the birthplace of Armagnac, the spirit of Gascony.

15 ml (½ oz) Armagnac
15 ml (½ oz) Grand Marnier
60 ml (2 oz) Orange Juice
7 ml (¼ oz) Simple Syrup*
Champagne (Brut)

Shake the Armagnac, Grand Marnier, orange juice and syrup with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Top up with Champagne.

French 75

Legend has it that the Soixante-Quinze (75) cocktail was invented in Harry’s American Bar in Paris in 1915, named after a WWI 75 millimetre French artillery gun. The gin based drink packs a punch, called the “most powerful drink in the world” by British novelist Alec Waugh.

60ml (2 oz) Champagne
15ml (1/2 oz) lemon juice
7 ml (¼ oz) Simple Syrup *
30ml  (1 oz) gin

Shake the gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup with ice, strain into a glass, then top with champagne.

Calvados Summer Punch

4 cl of Calvados
2 cl of Pommeau (apple brandy)
4 cl of orange juice
2 cl of mango juice
1 cl of strawberry syrup

Serve with ice and a slice! Summer in a glass, any time of the year…

*Make simple syrup by dissolving 2 parts sugar to one part boiled water. Allow to cool. Keeps for one month in a fridge in a sealed jar. Shake before use.

Classic Champagne cocktails
How to drink Pastis
History of absinthe – the ‘green fairy’

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