Cocktails

How to Make a French 76 – A Fun Spin on the Classic Cocktail

A French 76 is a sparkling, citrus cocktail made with lemon juice, champagne, syrup, and vodka. It’s a spin on a classic French 75 cocktail.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just a night with friends, you can’t go wrong with delicious champagne cocktails. The French 76 is a variation of the classic cocktail, the French 75. The cocktail is made with 4 simple ingredients vodka, champagne, fresh lemon juice, and syrup. It is simple, sweet, tart, and bubbly.

French 76 in a coupe glass with a Maraschino cherry and lemon twist garnish.

A French 76 is the perfect drink for a cocktail party. It is light and crisp, so it pairs well with salty and rich foods. Or make one to enjoy with popcorn for a movie night at home!

What’s the Difference Between a French 75 and a French 76?

A French 75 is a classic alcoholic beverage with a rich cocktail history. The drink dates back to the early 1900s when it was featured in famous cocktail books from Harry’s New York Bar. But many believe its origins predate this feature and began in France. The cocktail is strong and its name comes from a French gun used in World War I. It is made with gin, lemon juice, and champagne. Gin contains juniper berries which give the spirit a distinct botanical flavor.

A French 76 is made with vodka instead of gin. Vodka has less of a distinct flavor that is easily disguised in cocktails. If you aren’t a fan of gin-based cocktails, try substituting gin with vodka. There are many recipe variations of the French 75, such as the French 77, also called a French 75 St. Germain. This version adds elderflower liqueur to the cocktail as well. The French 96 is made with bourbon rather than gin or vodka.

A French 76 in a coupe glass with a Maraschino cherry and lemon twist garnish being picked up by a hand.

French 76 Ingredients

  • Vodka – Vodka is a popular spirit for cocktails because it has a smooth finish, but isn’t very flavorful. It adds a bit more alcohol to cocktails without changing the flavor. If you don’t care much for the taste of alcohol, then vodka cocktails may appeal to you. This cocktail tastes best with a top-shelf vodka or a nice mid-shelf option. Grey Goose is popular but I prefer Sobieski Rye Vodka.
  • Champagne (or Sparkling Wine) – Traditionally French 75s are made with brut champagne. However, sparkling wines like Prosecco or Cava are great alternatives. Sparkling wines are often more affordable options as well. My favorite Prosecco is the Kirkland Signature Prosecco from Costco. It is less than $8 per bottle and is delicious.
  • Lemon Juice – Add some brightness and acidity to this delicious drink with fresh lemon juice. Lime juice is a great substitute if needed, but lemon is best.
  • Simple Syrup – Sweeten this classic drink with a splash of syrup.

Homemade Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is one of the best ingredients for adding sweetness to a cocktail. Plus, it’s incredibly SIMPLE to make! See what I did there? Here’s how you do it!

  • Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a small saucepan.
  • Heat the saucepan on medium-low heat. It does not need to boil!
  • Continuously stir the water-sugar mixture until all of the sugar dissolves.
  • Pour into a glass jar.
  • Allow the syrup to cool. Then, place it in the refrigerator.

A homemade simple syrup lasts for about 6 months in the refrigerator. If it starts to appear cloudy, toss it out and make another batch!

How to Make a French 76

This delicious French 76 is sure to be one of your new favorite bubbly cocktails. It is a great choice for bridal shower toasts, New Year’s Eve, or any other celebratory drink.

Step One – In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. 

Step Two – Add a handful of ice cubes to the shaker. Then firmly place the lid on the cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds to combine the cocktail ingredients and chill them.

Step Three – Strain the cocktail into a champagne coupe. Fill the remainder of the glass with about 3 ounces of champagne or sparkling wine.

Garnish with a Maraschino cherry in the bottom of the glass and a lemon twist.

French 76 in a coupe glass with a Maraschino cherry and lemon twist garnish.

What Type of Glass Do I Use?

  • Champagne Flute – Flutes have less surface area at the top of the cocktail. A small surface area helps the carbonation of champagne or sparkling wine last longer.
  • Coupe Glass – Coupe glasses have a larger surface area, so the carbonation doesn’t last as long. However, the large mouth of the glass allows you to take in the scents of the cocktail as you drink. Smelling a cocktail as you drink it changes the flavor profile.

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This Cocktail Pairs Well With:

Champagne and champagne-based cocktails are excellent aperitives because they stimulate the appetite. The bright, slightly sweet flavor of a French 76 pairs well with antipasti, like cheese, cured meats, and olives. It also compliments salty dishes, like a dip with Feta cheese or popcorn. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a light pasta dish.

Can I Make a French 76 Ahead of Time?

Yes and no. The vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup can be mixed in advance. However, the champagne will lose its effervescence over time. Prepare all of the ingredients, except the champagne, and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve cocktails. Then add the champagne to each glass as you serve your guests.

Can I Make This Cocktail in Bulk?

Again, yes and no. The vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup may be mixed in bulk. Multiply the recipe by the number of drinks you wish to serve, then combine them in a small pitcher and chill. When serving your guests, pour the mixture into the cocktail glasses. Then top off the drink with champagne and a garnish.

Whether you prefer the gin version or the vodka version, the French 76 is sure to be one of your new favorite cocktails. It’s simple to make in a few simple steps but feels elevated for special occasions.

More Cocktail Ideas Using Sparkling Wines

french 76

French 76

A French 76 is a sparkling, citrus cocktail made with lemon juice, champagne, syrup, and vodka. It's a spin on a classic French 75 cocktail.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Cocktails
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • 1 cocktail shaker
  • Champagne flutes or coupe glasses

Ingredients
  

  • 4 oz vodka
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 4-6 oz champagne or sparkling wine
  • cherries

Instructions
 

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  • Add a handful of ice to the shaker.
  • Firmly place the top on the shaker.
  • Shake for 30 seconds to a full minute.
  • Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass or champagne flute.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel twist or a cherry.
Keyword champagne, vodka

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