French 75: Gin or Cognac?

There was an online discussion started recently by Maxton Kennedy, current bar manager at Forbidden Island and previously from The Kon-Tiki in Oakland and Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans. Notably, Maxton also previously had a stint at the French 75 Bar in NOLA.

Maxton’s premise was that many are making the French 75 incorrectly, since most published recipes use Gin rather than the French spirit, Cognac. It does seem like if the cocktail is a French origin, then the pair of Cognac and Champagne would make sense. 

This idea intrigued me and so without getting into the politics we made these side by side. I also did a poll on my Instagram stories, which split 60/40 in favor of Gin.

French 75
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Gin or Cognac
Top with 1 oz Champagne

I tried both and to me the Gin version with Beefeater Gin tasted better than the one with Ferrand Cognac. Perhaps different spirits in each category would have given a different result, but among these two the floral notes from the Gin seemed to work better with the Champagne.

Though, honestly, straight Champagne tasted better than either.

Molokai Mule

This is a recipe from Steve Crane’s Kon-Tiki restaurant from the Sheraton Waikiki resort circa 1960s, according to the entry in Beachbum Berry’s Taboo Table, and the Total Tiki app. I liked my first sip but it quickly turned into something else, a weird combination of flavors that did not play well on my tongue. I actually dumped it.

Molokai Mule
2 oz Orange juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orgeat
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Demerara Rum
Shake with ice cubes.

Have you ever tried this? What did you think?

Glassware by Woody Miller.