The French Martini helped to kick off the flavored Martini craze of the 1990s. Featuring vodka, pineapple juice and Chambord, the cocktail was first brought to prominence in the late-1980s when it debuted at the famous New York City restaurant Balthazar. The cocktail is emblematic of the era’s preference for fruity and sweet drinks, especially those with Martini in the name or anything appended with a ’Tini suffix (looking at you, Appletini).
The reason why this Martini is called a “French” Martini is the inclusion of Chambord black raspberry liqueur, which has been produced in France since the 17th century. The Chambord, along with the pineapple juice, adds rich fruit flavor to the drink. When shaken hard with plenty of ice, the pineapple juice—use the freshest you can find—creates a pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and a frothy head.
There are many variations to the French Martini. Some replace the vodka with gin, giving the cocktail a botanical twist. Others sub a different liqueur for the Chambord. But the original recipe remains intact for a reason: It’s easy, tastes great and looks good in the glass.
2 ounces vodka
1/4 ounce Chambord black raspberry liqueur
1 3/4 ounces pineapple juice
Add the vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
What is Chambord?
Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur made in France’s Loire Valley that combines raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and XO cognac. Its distinct flavor profile highlights the berries, with additional notes of vanilla, citrus, and spice.
What To Use Instead of Chambord in a French Martini
Venerable bartender and distiller Allen Katz suggests substituting creme de cassis for Chambord in a French Martini. This tweak imparts a deeper flavor, as the currants in creme de cassis are sharper than Chambord’s raspberries, while maintaining the drink’s distinct identity.