Relaxing on the patio on a summer evening is always more fun when you can share a cocktail with a friend (socially distanced, of course) or with your own partner. As the worries of the workday begin to slip away, a summer cocktail can help relieve some of the stresses of these surreal times. We at Spice For Life, have a couple of our favorite cocktails we would like to share. And of course, being a spice store, we like to add our own unique flavors to them. The classic French 75 cocktail is one of our selections for you, and the other, our own Spice For Life cocktail, the Lavender Bee, created by our resident mixologist.
First a little history about this cocktail, which can pack a punch like its namesake. As with many histories about the origin of a food or drink, who created it is a little murky. However, what is agreed upon about this drink is the origin of the name. This cocktail was named after the “Canon de 75 Modele 1897”. The French military rapid fire, explosive shell, artillery cannon, which was partly responsible for France’s victory in WWI. Cocktails are often named after people, places, and events. This firearm symbolized hope in the battle against Germany. It is believed that in 1915, Henry Te’pe’ of Henry’s Bar in Paris created a cocktail named 75 (after the cannon), later becoming known as the French 75. For a thorough history of the French 75 and other variations on it, see the Difford’s Guide.
The French 75 was originally made with cognac and champagne. However, it has become more popular to now use gin instead of cognac. In the Spice For Life summer cocktail version, we use gin. Instead of the usual sugar or simple syrup we add a little bitter-sweet note by using Campari. Campari is an Italian low alcohol aperitif made with a combination of herbs, spices, and fruit peel. It adds a refreshing summer appeal and a reddish hue to the drink. We also include some pink peppercorns. These are not real peppercorns but berries from a tree, sometimes called a pepper tree, native to South America. They are called peppercorns because of their subtle light peppery taste which has some sweet undertones. The Campari and pink peppercorns together add another layer of complexity, color, and fun to the drink.
This very refreshing summer cocktail was created by one of our Spice For Life team members, who is also our resident mixologist. It is a take off on the drink the Bees Knees, first made popular during Prohibition. As Alan explains in his video, which shows how to make the Lavender Bee, this drink with the sweetness of the honey and orange juice combined with the tartness of fresh lemon juice creates a well-balanced light cocktail. The alcohol used is gin, so adding the culinary lavender enhances the botanical flavors already present in gin. Our culinary lavender flowers (no, not the type you buy in craft stores) are grown in France. Lavender is in the mint family and has an intense spicy, sweet floral like flavor with citrusy undertones. However, remember a little bit of lavender goes a long way.
As the dog days of summer begin to fade, now is the time to enjoy refreshing, easy, and fun summer cocktails!