What to Drink This Week: The French 75 (aka The Southampton)

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This installment of “What to Drink This Week” features a drink that for me is a summer time staple. It’s supposed to feel like close to 30 degrees today, and I’m sure that won’t last, so why not try to squeeze out a little more summer with a cocktail today before we all hunker down for the winter with dark beer, brown liquor, and German erotica….er, just me?

Anyway, this is a summer drink I thought I invented–but most certainly didn’t.

The beverage is technically the French 75, though my version is modified slightly and rechristened The Southampton. 

Both beverages are a ridiculously potent mix of champagne or proseco and gin.

The French 75 was so named because the act of having a few is not unlike the feeling of being assaulted by the French 75mm light field gun, arguably the first piece of modern artillery, capable of  delivering 15 rounds-per-minute (which was not bad when facing an enemy with bolt-action rifles in 1897).

The Southampton is less cleverly named after the place I first slapped the ingredients together in a pitcher and got numbingly drunk with two ladies named Kate and a chain-smoking man they call Goose.

The French 75 was invented in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris, France. The Southampton was “invented” at a cottage in Southampton, Ontario, likely when I somehow stumbled upon the recipe for the French 75 and added some mint. Either way, the drink is ridiculously tasty and packs enough booze stop the heart of a rhino.

No, really. I don’t know if it’s some magic chemical reaction that happens when you combine gin and proseco or the fact that its demure sweetness and bubbles evoke ideas of a much tamer drink, but a few of these will put you on your ass.

The recipe

Standard recipes for the French 75 call for something like 2oz of gin, a teaspoon of sugar or superfine sugar, an ounce or half ounce of lemon juice and a topping off with champagne in a Collins glass. While I’m sure that recipe will serve you just fine, I had great success substituting simple syrup for the sugar, prosecco for champagne, and adding a generous portion of mint because I’m all Martha Stewart like that.

I also highly recommend making this drink in pitcher-sized portions because a) you’re going to want more than one and b) after you have more than one you’ll want to make sure there are other people around so you don’t go screaming into a cold lake or put your fist through a windshield.

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Here’s how to make a pitcher and render yourself and a couple friends useless for an afternoon:

  • Make a cup or two of simple sugar (equal parts water and sugar dissolved slowly over low heat). Let cool.
  • Pack plenty of ice into a pitcher and pour in good gin until you think, “That might be too much gin.”
  • Add the simple syrup and the juice of an entire lemon
  • Add a handful of hand-shredded mint
  • If you’re feeling fancy, throw in a healthy splash of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec.
  • Slowly pour in some dry Prosecco or sparkling wine–no need to break the bank on the bottle. I tend to use Barefoot Wines’ bubbly pinot grigio since it’s typically available at the Southampton LCBO)
  • Stir
  • Cancel your other plans

*(If you want to make this drink less potent, as I occasionally do when sharing a pitcher with my inlaws, you can add in some club soda, but you might want to up to the simple syrup portion if you do to compensate)

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