Every now and again I'll get the itch. I begin to feel stuck and start craving something new. Unfortunately, I don't have the means to just pack up and go every time I have the urge. So I come up with little ways to bring the world to me. I've hosted Spanish inspired brunches and epic Irish feasts, but on this particular Friday, the carbs and cocktails of France were calling my name. So I ran to the store and grabbed a baguette, a hunk of brie, and a bottle of brut. It was going to be a good night.
My initial plan was to make a fancy cheese platter, but I was far too hungry for all that nonsense. So in true Rissa fashion, I tore apart the baguette with my bare hands and shoved it into the brie like an animal. No cute little cheese knife required.
Ever since I can remember, I've eaten bread and cheese in France like a monster. I was constantly on the go during my early travel days, so most meals were quick and usually took place on the metro. In fact, I once ate half of a chicken standing on the platform waiting for a train. I honestly should have won some sort of medal for that. Anyway, sitting down at a restaurant costs time and a significant amount money (that I didn't have back then), so I'd just pop into a bakery, grab a loaf of bread, and start chomping down.
As I stuffed my face with carbs and cheese, I started prepping cocktails. One of my favorite cocktails in France is the French 75. It's a delicious blend of gin, champagne, lemon, and sugar. It's a light and beautiful cocktail that I love sipping in the summer next to the Seine.
The best thing about a French 75 is that it's incredibly easy to make and only requires 4 ingredients. I hate making cocktails that have more ingredients than my dinner.
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Gin*
3 oz. Chilled Champagne (or brut)
Combine everything but the Champagne/brut into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Strain into a glass and top it with the Champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel.
*I use Bombay Sapphire for my gin and I often put in an extra 1/2 oz. because I like a boozy cocktail. Surprise, surprise.
After the first round of cocktails, I decided to change things up. Since I had a beautiful bottle of Rémy Martin VSOP on my top shelf, I decided to switch out the gin for cognac. Oh man, it was so good. It turned out to be the perfect early autumn cocktail. The cognac adds a warm, spicy flavor, but the dry Champagne keeps a wonderful aperitif.
Once the bottle of brut was drained, we moved on to the stronger stuff. Whiskey. My favorite.
Elderflower Old Fashioned | The French Embassy
2 1/2 oz. Bourbon*
1/2 oz. Elderflower Liqueur*
2-3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Strip of Lemon Zest
Stir bourbon, elderflower liqueur, and bitters in a mixing glass or tin until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with a large cube of ice (optional) and garnish with lemon zest. You can also enjoy this neat.
If you want to weaken it a bit, just add a little club soda and a splash of lemon juice.
*I use Bulleit for my bourbon and St. Germain for my elderflower liqueur.
The rest of the night may have been a little hazy... but man, it was a good night in France.
UPDATE: See how I put a few French cocktails together on an episode of Culture Cravings.