In France, New Year’s Eve is La Reveillon de Saint-Sylvestre and is celebrated much like everywhere in the world, with friends and family and champagne, but with the addition of oysters. While I highly recommend this, I also suggest adding one more festive drink: the French 75 cocktail.
New Year’s Eve In France
Mireille Guiliano, author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” has written a wonderful book called, “Meet Paris Oyster” which explores Parisian’s love affair with oysters. So, when I was in Paris a few year’s ago, my friend Laurie and I had wine, steak and oysters for dinner. While we did not go to Huîtrerie Régis which is in Guiliano’s book, Laurie was nice enough to pick up a couple of dozen from the nearby seafood restaurant.
After dinner, we walked to the Eiffel Tower area to watch the light show, toasting the New Year with champagne. Sadly there are no fireworks and you cannot stand beneath the Eiffel Tower as the area is blocked off.
We stood on Pont de Bir-Hakeim which had the advantage of a covering which was perfect as the weather in December/January is unpredictable and that night it was damp and rainy. We didn’t care. We were in Paris!
Let me introduce you to a famous and delicious drink that is easy to make and could (should) begin your New Year’s Eve celebrations.
A Little History About French 75:
French 75 is a cocktail called, “Soixante Quinze” and dates back to World War I. The story goes that in 1915 the drink was created in the New York Bar (now Harry’s Bar) in Paris and it had such a kick when you drank it, you felt like you were being shelled with a French 75mm field gun.
This drink was popularized in New York at the Stork Club and it appeared in the movie, “Casablanca” in 1942. It is very similar to the popular drink, Tom Collins, but uses champagne rather than carbonated water. The key ingredients in the French 75 are: gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar. It is traditionally served in a highball glass, but I personally think it’s much better in a champagne flute.
French 75 Recipe
- 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp (1.5 oz) gin
- 1.5 tbsp (0.75 oz) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp (0.5 oz) simple syrup
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) Brut (dry) Champagne (or sparkling wine), chilled
- Make sure the glass and Champagne are well chilled
- Slice peel from lemon in a long, thin sprial
- In shaker, combine gin, lemon juice and simple syrup**
- Add ice and shake for 20 seconds
- Strain into champagne flute (chilled) and top with champagne
- Garnish with lemon
**Simple syrup: 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water-boil together over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool before adding to the cocktail.