The French 75- the perfect way to toast the stylishly fierce spirit of Charlotte Perriand
Updated: Apr 15, 2021
Charlotte Perriand's effervescent personality belied her steely determination and prodigious talent. In similar fashion to the French designer, this champagne cocktail is deceptively light and refreshing but packs a powerful punch. According to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the French 75 was named after the French 75 mm field gun, used heavily during WWI . The gun had a very smooth operation which made it a favorite but obviously it packed a wallop. In the same way, the combination of champagne, lemon juice, simple syrup and gin is incredible refreshing and deceptively smooth. But be careful- like the canon, this sparkling coupe packs a wallop and I've seen first hand many fellow revelers downed by this powerful weapon.
Paris in the twenties and thirties was head over heels for Jazz and cocktails, and so was Charlotte Perriand with her ground-breaking design "The Bar in the Attic" from 1927. This incredibly forward -thinking space was meant for a middle class consumer, as attic spaces were typically called “chambres de bonnes” or maid’s room. This tiny bar, with its chrome and tube steel furniture and lack of ornamentation was designed to be easily reproduced and purchased en suite by a new middle-class consumer, someone not unlike herself.
Charlotte Perriand visited New York City for the first time in 1997, when she was accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award in the field of modernism from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Gallerist Cristina Grajales who represented Charlotte Perriand's work helped to arrange the trip and took Madame Perriand on a tour of New York City. She took her to see the Statue of Liberty, and on a boat trip on the Staten Island Ferry. Ms. Grajales described Madame Perriand as incredibly warm and kind yet formidable with her intense blue eyes. She was also incredibly chic. Ms. Grajales had wanted to gift her a pair of in-demand Nike Air Max sneakers but Madame Perriand declined the gift, until she saw a stylish young black woman at the River Cafe in Brooklyn wearing the very same sneakers. "I wear a size five." she promptly informed Ms. Grajales, who arranged for the sneakers to be delivered to her. She wore them all over New York with a white silk ensemble and continued to wear them until her death.
The French 75
According to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the French 75 originated in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. It was a popular watering hole for American expats, especially those in the American Field Service, (the American funded ambulance service, transporting wounded soliders at the front), so it makes perfect sense that they would name a cocktail after the popular field gun. This is a perfect summer drink and very easy to make with ingredients most people have on hand. (Excluding the Champagne)
Recipe 2 oz. gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tspn. simple syrup- (boil H20 + sugar in a 1:1 ration-couldn't be easier)
Shake the first 3 ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker. Pour into a chilled flute or coupe and top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist. No need for fancy ingredients with this cocktail, a dry English style gin like Beefeater and an inexpensive bottle of brut sparkling wine or Champers will do.
Thirsty for more? Read all about Charlotte Perriand here
Check out Cristina Grajales' eponymous gallery here