Right on Target

By Kara Newman

Published on July 27, 2014

A century ago, World War I broke out, and with it came a cocktail. While blends of champagne, cognac, and lemon preceded it, without the war, the drink may have been lost to obscurity; surely, it would have a different name, as "French 75" was American slang for the 75-mm field gun. One tale credits it to flier Raoul Lufbery of the French air squadron the Lafayette Escadrille, who allegedly spiked his bubbly with cognac for oomph. Easier to pinpoint is the modern recipe made with gin; historian David Wondrich says it first ran in the 1927 bartending book Here's How! Today the 75 still inspires. A rosé take from San Francisco's Slanted Door, a blood orange one from Manhattan's Louro—like the namesake gun, these are light but pack a wallop. As WWI reporter Irvin S. Cobb wrote, "I couldn't tell whether a shell or the drink hit me."

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