“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Confession: I had never seen Casablanca up until a few weeks ago. Nor have I seen Gone with the Wind, so if you want to erase me from your address books now, I fully understand. It’s irresponsible, and I have no excuse.
However, as I aways say, “Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around,” (thanks, Vanilla Sky!) and recently I watched the entirety of this gorgeous classic.
Centered around a bar called Rick’s, the characters are frequently accessorized with cocktails.
A closer listen revealed one particular drink - the one Yvonne and her Nazi suitor enjoy, the French 75. The effervescent mood-elevator involves gin, lemon juice and champagne, and you can find the recipe here.
My first French 75 was enjoyed at Del Posto, Mario Batali’s Meatpacking masterpiece. The bar there is an experience on its own. Please check it out and report back.
History of the French 75:
It was discovered by French air force pilot Raoul Lufbery who was part of Escadrille Américaine air fighting unit. Legend has it that he liked champagne, but wanted something with more of a kick to it, so he mixed it with cognac which was readily available. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm howitzer artillery piece, also called a “75 Cocktail”, or “Soixante Quinze” in French. The French 75 was popularized in America at the Stork Club.
Praise for the French 75:
For some reason, there is debate about whether this cocktail should be made with Cognac or gin. The first published recipe—gin-based—seems to have appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, but 20 years later David Embury wrote, in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, “Gin is sometimes used in place of cognac in this drink, but then, of course, it no longer should be called French.” Embury ignores Champagne’s French origins, not to mention the 75-millimeter cannon for which the drink was named. - July 1960 Issue of Gourmet Magazine
In the same family as the various versions of champagne cocktail is the celebrated French 75, an elixir which, if it did not actually have its origin in the first of the German wars, at least came to the general attention of American drinkers at that time and was immediately enshrined in the pharmacopoeia of alcohol artistry in the United States upon the conclusion of hostilities in 1919. - Lucius Beebe, The Stork Club Bar Book
It’s unclear what makes the French 75 so powerful—maybe it’s the combination of liquors— but, whoo boy, do you feel it when you down one! - Jean Shepherd, raconteur and author
Hits with remarkable precision. - Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book