Named for a World War I-era field gun—it “hits with remarkable precision,” notes the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book—the French 75 is usually made with gin. This season, graduate to a mellower, richer version using cognac; you don’t lose any of the tart lemony sweetness, and effervescent Champagne mixes neatly with a spirit that’s also distilled from French grapes.
“It’s a fuller drink with cognac,” says Chris Hannah, head bartender at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, which opened in New Orleans in 1918. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate.”
The drink improves the higher up the shelf you go: Caesars Palace in Las Vegas serves a version with the rare Richard Hennessy cognac ($4,500), blended from 100 aged eaux-de-vie and 2003 Dom Pérignon rosé ($275). For special occasions at the Regent Hotel’s Manhattan Bar in Singapore, head bartender Philip Bischoff swaps out the standard Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve ($55) and tops the drink off with Dom Pérignon ($175 for 2004 vintage).
Make your own version using the Arnaud’s recipe below. Hannah says to serve it before dinner—you’ll start the night off with a bang.
Arnaud’s Cognac French 75
1½ oz. Courvoisier VS
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp simple syrup
2¾ oz. Moët & Chandon
1 lemon twist
Pour cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice and shake only long enough to chill. Strain into a frosted Champagne glass, top with bubbly, and garnish with a lemon twist.