Sip on a classic cocktail with a twist and enjoy this delightful French 76! You’ll love how this Champagne cocktail features a citrusy, bright pop of lemon with a bubbly, crisp finish. Plus, you can whip it up in just a few minutes with only a handful of simple ingredients, and it’s great for serving a crowd.
So let's pop the cork and mix together some French 76 cocktails. No party is complete without a Champagne flute in hand.
What Is a French 76?
The French 76 is the cocktail sister of the traditional French 75, which was created at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the early 1900s. While the French 75's original recipe calls for gin, the French 76 is a vodka-based drink. And that’s the key difference — other than the spirit, these two drinks use the same ingredient list.
Both are light and refreshing sippers, but the Champagne really shines in a French 76, thanks to vodka’s neutral flavor base. Gin, however, is distilled with juniper berries, which gives it a stronger, distinct earthy quality.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Elegant yet simple: Sipping bubbly from a Champagne glass always feels fancy. But just because you’re sipping with your pinky out doesn’t mean advanced mixology skills are required. Even beginner bartenders can mix this Champagne drink with ease.
Perfect for any occasion: The French 76 makes a lovely Sunday brunch drink or pre-dinner sipper for Saturday night, but it also works beautifully as a simple signature cocktail for all your special occasions — think Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. This is one trusty cocktail recipe to always keep in your back pocket.
Easily batch the recipe for parties: Don’t want to make individual drinks? No worries. You can easily make a pitcher of French 76 cocktails to make hosting as simple as can be.
Related: For more sparkling cocktail recipes, make sure you also try my rosé French 75, French 77 and St. Germain elderflower spritz. These Champagne floats from Joyfully Mad Kitchen are also a fun option.
Champagne: Champagne is traditional, but any type of white sparkling wine will do. Prosecco, cava or an American sparkling wine all make great substitutions. Just use something you’d be happy drinking on its own.
Vodka: Don’t use low-quality vodka. You don’t have to get anything too expensive, but a poorly made vodka is too harsh. In case you need a little inspiration, check out this list of best vodka for cocktails.
Lemon juice: Make sure you use freshly squeezed lemon juice. While you can buy bottled lemon juice, it’s not nearly as bright as real juice. The best cocktails are always made with freshly squeezed citrus juice.
Simple syrup: This gives us just a touch of sweetness to balance the citrus and round out the drink.
Step 1: We pour the vodka, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we put on the cocktail shaker top and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds (photo 2).
Step 3: From here, we strain the chilled vodka mixture into our wine glass (photo 3) and top with 2 to 3 ounces of Champagne (photo 4).
Step 4: For the perfect garnish, we place a dainty lemon twist on the side of the glass (photo 5). Some people also like to add a maraschino cherry to the bottom of the glass, though I prefer to keep it simple with the lemon twist. How you garnish is completely up to you.
In just a few simple steps, we now have the perfect French 76. Take a sip and enjoy one of your new favorite cocktails. Lucky you.
How to Batch for a Pitcher
As promised, you can absolutely make a pitcher of French 76 drinks. For this method, we follow these steps.
- Add the vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup to a pitcher with a handful of ice and stir for about 20 seconds.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the ice. This adds the dilution we’d get with shaking to ensure it isn’t too strong.
- Store the pitcher in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. After a day, the lemon starts to lose its brightness.
- When ready to serve, pour in a bottle of Champagne. We want to make sure we do this when we’re ready to start sipping so that we don’t lose those delightful bubbles.
You can find the full ingredient proportions for a pitcher in the notes section of the recipe card.
This classy cocktail calls for a brut Champagne. With this style of Champagne, we get a crisp, dry finish that’s perfect with the pop of lemon.
Traditionally, the original French 75 was often served in a Collins or highball glass, but these days, you most often see a French 76 or 75 served in a Champagne flute. A coupe glass is also common for a bubbly cocktail.
Although you can buy simple syrup, it’s much more economical to make your own, and you don’t have to worry about any weird ingredients. To make simple syrup, bring together 1 cup water and 1 cup white sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring here and there to dissolve the sugar. Once it boils, we turn off the heat, allow the mixture to cool and store in a sterile, airtight container in the refrigerator.
As long as you store the simple syrup properly, it should last several weeks. When the mixture turns cloudy, it’s time to make a new batch.
Don’t get too spendy with your bubbly: Save that expensive Champagne to drink unadorned. When using sparkling wine in a cocktail, you want something that’s tasty enough to drink without the additional ingredients, but we don’t need to break the bank. Here's a list of 10 sparkling wines that are great for cocktails.
Chill your Champagne first: Considering that Champagne is half the drink, it will not be nearly as refreshing if you use room-temperature sparkling wine. Make sure you keep your Champagne in the refrigerator or pick up a chilled bottle at the store. The ideal serving temperature is about 47 degrees F.
Create your own spin with flavored simple syrups: A flavored simple syrup is a great way to give this classic drink a fun twist. For instance, my cranberry French 75 uses this spiced cranberry simple syrup, which is especially fun for the holidays. My ginger simple syrup and cherry simple syrup are also tasty options. I recommend double the amount of a custom simple syrup to really extract the flavor.
As if you need one more reason to love this drink — the French 76 pairs with so many wonderful dishes. Oysters and caviar are a classic pairing, but don’t feel like you have to stop there.
For a pre-dinner pairing, this drink is perfect with this herbed whipped ricotta dip served next to a charcuterie board full of cured meats. As you move to dinner, you’ll love this drink with my roasted blood orange salmon. This zippy citrus and bubbly finish help cut through the salmon to make one palate-refreshing drink.
Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to finding a perfect food pairing with this drink. Feel free to get creative and let me know how you paired this food-friendly cocktail.
When you need the perfect drink for any occasion, look no further than this French 76. You’ll adore every bubbly sip.
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- Cocktail shaker
- Handheld citrus juicer
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- Champagne flute
- 1 ½ ounces vodka
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 2-3 ounces chilled Champagne
- Lemon twist for garnish, optional
- Add the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker.
- Put on the top and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Strain into a Champagne flute. Top with chilled Champagne.
- If desired, add a lemon twist to the side of the glass for a garnish. Enjoy!
- Champagne is best served at 47 degrees, so make sure it's nice and chilled.
- Don't feel like you need an expensive Champagne. You can also substitute prosecco, cava or your favorite sparkling white wine.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.