For the perfect elegant sipper, look no further than this effervescent French 77 cocktail! Made with sweet elderflower liqueur, citrusy lemon and bubbly Champagne, this refreshing wine cocktail is full of crisp, bright flavors. No advanced bartending skills are required, and this drink comes together in a snap. Don't be surprised if this lovely Champagne cocktail makes a regular appearance on your drink menu.
What Is a French 77?
The French 77 puts a floral twist on the classic French 75 cocktail. While a traditional French 75 uses simple syrup as a sweetener and gin for an extra kick, this drink uses elderflower liqueur for both purposes instead.
While the two drinks are cocktail cousins, they share different histories. According to common cocktail folklore, Harry’s New York Bar in Paris first crafted the French 75 in 1915 as a nod to the French military. Barman Harry MacElhone took one stiff sip and thought it was like being shelled. Of course, I have to imagine he meant this in the best way because it sure is a tasty drink.
The French 77, however, is a more modern cocktail. Simon Difford, a respected cocktail writer and publisher, only invented the French 77 in 2006, but it quickly became a favorite among Champagne lovers. Let’s call it a modern classic cocktail.
In addition to the French 77 and 75, we also have the French 76. This drink includes lemon juice, simple syrup and Champagne like a French 75, but it swaps the gin for vodka.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Serve day or night for any occasion: Need a brunch cocktail? The French 77 adds a sophisticated flair. At the same time, it works as a lovely pre-dinner or after-dinner cocktail. And don’t forget those special holidays — New Year's Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are all perfect occasions to pop the bubbly for this drink. You’ll want to keep this recipe handy.
Prepare as single drinks or pitcher style: Talk about versatility. You can prepare a few cocktails at a time for ultimate freshness, or you can mix most of the ingredients ahead of serving in a pitcher for easy entertaining.
Only three ingredients required: Whether you’re a beginner bartender or expert with years of experience, you can whip up this cocktail in no time, and it couldn't be more simple.
Elderflower liqueur: St. Germain is the most well-known elderflower liqueur, which adds sweet and floral notes to our drink. This is what I used, and it’s lovely. You can certainly use another brand, but St. Germain is the gold standard.
Lemon juice: I always recommend freshly squeezed lemon juice in my cocktails, but with only three ingredients, it’s even more important. Bottled juice isn’t nearly as vibrant tasting as fresh lemon juice.
Champagne (or any sparkling white wine): No need to get anything extravagant — $20 and under is fine. Save your fancy Champagne for sipping unadorned. Also, make sure it’s nice and chilled before pouring.
Step 1: We begin by adding the elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we place the top back on and shake vigorously (photo 2). About 20 seconds will do.
Step 3: With our elderflower mixture chilled, we strain it into a Champagne flute (photo 3).
Step 4: For our final step, we top with Champagne and add a lemon twist for garnish (photos 4 and 5). The lemon twist is optional, but it makes for a beautiful touch and adds a wonderful fragrance.
Wasn’t that simple? With very little effort, we have the daintiest cocktail ready for toasting and sipping.
How to Make a Pitcher Ahead of Time
To make your hosting duties simple and stress free, let’s chat about how you can prepare a large batch of French 77 cocktails. The exact proportions are in the notes section of the recipe card.
- Pour the elderflower liqueur and lemon juice in a pitcher.
- Add a handful of ice and stir for about 20-30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leftover ice. This gives you some of the dilution you’d get from shaking.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. After that, the lemon juice starts to lose its brightness.
- Right before serving, gently pour the Champagne into the pitcher. Alternatively, pour 2 ounces into each Champagne flute and top with Champagne.
The easiest way is to run a channel knife along the lemon peel to cut off a thin strip. You then wrap the peel into a twist shape and apply pressure with your fingers to help maintain that form. You can buy a channel knife separately, or you may find a channel knife knob on your citrus zester.
If you don’t have a channel knife in your bar tool collection, don’t worry — we can use a paring knife to make a lemon twist. For this method, slice a thin lemon wheel and then cut a slit into the peel. Use the paring knife to cut away the fruit and any excess pith. Now you can shape it as above.
We want a dry, brut-style sparkling white wine. Since the elderflower is sweet on its own, an asti-style wine, for instance, would be too cloying.
Champagne is the traditional choice, but other sparkling wines work well. An Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or American sparkling wine are just as nice. As long as it's a dry sparkling white wine, you're good to go.
In the early days, a bartender would serve a French 75 in a Collins or highball glass, but that has largely changed. Typically, modern bartenders serve this in a Champagne flute. A coupe glass is also a lovely option for sparkling wine cocktails.
Mark the opening date on your elderflower liqueur: I recommend using your elderflower liqueur within six months. Many liqueurs start to oxidize, which changes the flavor, and don’t have the shelf life of your straight spirits. If you can’t get through an entire 750-milliliter bottle, you can often find small bottles of St. Germain — I’ve seen it sold in 50, 200 and 375 milliliters.
No cocktail shaker, no problem: Use a mason jar with a solid lid, and you’re ready for shaking.
Chill your serving glass: Place your champagne flute in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving, and you have a perfectly chilled glass. If you forget, fill the flute with ice and water while you measure and shake. Stir the ice water with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds, throw out the contents and you’ll be left with a cold flute.
Pour slowly: This ensures you don’t accidentally overflow your glass and waste that wonderful bubbly.
Open your Champagne bottle over a sink: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to run to the sink because of overflowing bubbles. Even if the Champagne has had time to sit in the refrigerator undisturbed, it’s still a good idea to pop open the bottle over the sink just in case the carbonation surprises you.
Elderflower is wonderful with all sorts of fruits, so this French 77’s perfect dinner accompaniment is my grilled peach pizza with pesto. Peaches especially work nicely with floral notes, and you’ll love how the bubbles cut through the pesto and cheese.
This drink also works nicely as a dessert cocktail, and you can’t go wrong pairing it with this fresh strawberry-ginger cheesecake. These delicate flavors were made for each other, and like the pizza, the carbonation is great for refreshing the palate from the rich cheesecake filling.
For the perfect sophisticated cocktail that’s ready for any occasion, I hope you try this French 77 recipe. With that delightful floral flavor and twist of lemon, this refreshing cocktail is sure to be a new favorite.
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French 77 Cocktail
- Cocktail shaker
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- 1 ounce elderflower liqueur preferably St. Germain
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 ounces chilled Champagne or sparkling white wine use a dry, brut style
- Lemon twist for garnish, optional
- Add the elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled Champagne flute or coupe glass.
- Top with Champagne. If desired, garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!
- Mark the opening date on your elderflower liqueur. I recommend using your elderflower liqueur within six months. Many liqueurs start to oxidize, which changes the flavor, and don’t have the shelf life of your straight spirits. You can find St. Germain in multiple size options.
- Place your champagne flute in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving, and you have a perfectly chilled glass. If you forget, fill the flute with ice and water while you measure and shake. Stir the ice water with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds, throw out the contents and you’ll be left with a cold flute.
- Pour slowly. This ensures you don’t accidentally overflow your glass and waste that wonderful bubbly. You may also want to open the bottle over a sink in case the carbonation bubbles up.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.