The French 75 is a fun and sophisticated classic, and arguably the most popular and famous of all sparkling wine cocktails (even more so than the Champagne Cocktail). A mixture of either gin or brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling wine (preferably Champagne), it’s a drink that lends itself well to variations and tweaks. One such approach to variation is the Romancing the Stone, which comes from bartending professionals Chad Solomon and Christy Pope. This romantic take on the French classic involves apricot brandy and honey, but manages to stay balanced in its sweetness.
Rather than cognac—which is the preferred choice for a brandy-based French 75—Solomon and Pope use Blume Marillen, a specific eau-de-vie made with apricots from the Wachau Valley of Austria. Blume Marillen can be more difficult to find than pear (Poire Williams), apple (pomme) or raspberry (framboise) eaux-de-vie, and you may need to turn to online markets to find it, if your local liquor store doesn’t carry any.
While packed with apricot flavor, the eau-de-vie is quite dry, and will not lead to an overly sweet drink, even with the half-ounce of rich honey syrup the recipe calls for. It’s further balanced with lemon juice for acidity and brightness. A single dash of the bright red Peychaud’s bitters adds additional complexity and color to the drink, making it more nuanced and layered.
When it comes to the choice of sparkling wine, Champagne is always a good bet. Dry, bready and beautifully effervescent, it pairs lovingly with the apricot brandy. However, not everyone is keen on using the expensive and lauded French wine in a mixed drink—instead, you can always use another sparkling white wine, especially those made with methode traditionnelle, as many French and American wines are.
- 1 ounce Blume Marillen apricot eau-de-vie
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce rich honey syrup (2 parts honey, 1 part water)
- 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
- Sparkling wine, chilled, to top
Add the Blume Marillen apricot eau-de-vie, lemon juice, honey syrup and Peychaud’s bitters into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a chilled Champagne flute.
Top with Champagne (or other sparkling white wine).