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 want a fun cocktail for sipping, you can’t go wrong with a delicious champagne-based drink. Especially when the drink is tart, sweet, and refreshing!
A French 76 is the perfect drink for a cocktail party. It pairs well with salty and rich foods. And it is light and crisp. Or just make one to enjoy while curled up with popcorn and a movie at home!
What Is a French 76?
A French 76 is a vodka and champagne cocktail. It is a spin on a French 75 cocktail. A French 76 combines vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne. It is crisp, refreshing, and tart. The cocktail is ideal for slow sipping.
What’s the Difference Between a French 75 and a French 76?
A French 75 is made with gin, whereas the 76 is made with vodka. Gin contains juniper berries. These berries give the spirit a distinct pine-like flavor. On the other hand, vodka has less of a distinct flavor. If you aren’t a fan of gin-based cocktails, try substituting the gin for vodka. Which is exactly what a French 76 does!
The Cocktail Ingredients
- Champagne or sparkling wine
- Lemon juice
- Simple syrup
- Cherries (for garnish)
Using Champagne versus Sparkling Wine
Traditionally, French 76s are made with champagne. The drink originated in France, where champagne is the most popular. However, sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava, are great alternatives. And many sparkling wines are more affordable than a bottle of decent champagne.
When I enjoy a French 76 at home I use Prosecco. I typically always have a bottle on hand. And there are several Prosecco brands that I love that cost less than $12 a bottle.
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!
This Cocktail Pairs Well With:
- Charcuterie Boards
- Green Goddess Dip
- Layered Greek Dip
- Chocolate Covered Popcorn
- Creamy Chicken Broccoli Pasta
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.
How to Make a French 76
In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add a handful of ice to the shaker. Then firmly place the lid on the cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds to combine the cocktail ingredients and chill them.
Strain the cocktail into a champagne flute. Fill the remainder of the glass, almost to the top, with chilled champagne or sparkling wine. Then garnish with a cherry in the bottom of the glass. Or add a lemon peel twist.
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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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 carbonation over time. So prepare all of the ingredients, except the champagne, and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve cocktails. Then you only need to add the champagne to the glasses for your guests. It could certainly save a bit of time!
Can I Make This Cocktail in Bulk?
Again, yes and no. The vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup may be mixed in bulk. Simply multiply the recipe by the number of drinks you wish to serve. 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.
More Cocktail Ideas Using Sparkling Wines
- 1 cocktail shaker
- Champagne flutes or coupe glasses
- 4 oz vodka
- 2 oz lemon juice
- 2 oz simple syrup
- 4-6 oz champagne or sparkling wine
- 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.