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The Best French Cocktails to Satisfy Your Inner Parisian

Cocktail culture is a reflection of the world itself, from the best Italian cocktails to the best champagnes, all with diverse and teeming styles that vary by geography, era, and more. France has to be on the shortlist of mixed drinks powers, a nation known for wine but equally capable of creating utter magic behind the bar.

Settling on the best French cocktails wasn’t easy. We combed through the best cocktail books and chatted up experts from places like Bicylcette Bistro in Los Angeles. We came away with a handsome list that will give you a lasting taste of Paris or Lyon, even if you can’t actually cross the Atlantic in the name of bar hopping. And while we want you to try your hand at making a Sidecar, many of these are easier to make and equally easy to enjoy.

À ta santé!

Calvarac

Calvarac cocktail on table.
Anne Fishbein

(Created by Shawn Lickliter, Bicyclette)

Combining some iconic French elements, like Absinthe (although Switzerland may technically have concocted it first) and Calvados, the Calvarac over-delivers. As you may have guessed, the name reflects part of the Sazerac drink’s inspiration.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz Earl Grey-infused bourbon*
  • .5 oz Strega
  • 1 tsp citrus oleo saccharine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud Bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • Absinthe rinse

Earl Grey-Infused Bourbon:

  1. Combine 25 grams of Earl Grey tea with a bottle (750-ml) of Old Forester Single Barrel Bourbon in a non-reactive container.
  2. Let steed for 20 minutes, then fine strain.

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir to chill.
  3. Strain into an absinthe rinsed rocks glass.
  4. Express a grapefruit peel and lemon peel over top.

Boulevardier

Boulevardier.
Liquor.com

If you don’t know about the perfect Boulevardier, get to know it. The cocktail is basically a Negroni using to whiskey, concocted in Paris in the early 20th century. It remains a commanding classic among its cocktail peers.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • .75 oz Campari
  • .75 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

Method:

  1. Stir in mixing glass with ice.
  2. Strain over ice and garnish with an orange twist, following its expression.

Kir Royale

Kir Royale cocktail.
Flickr/Alex Brown

The best aperitif cocktails are the simplest ones and the Kir Royale is just that. Make it your go-to as you head into November and December, something to sip while prepping a holiday meal or munching on a cheese plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Crème de Casiss
  • 9 parts Champagne (although any good sparkling wine will do)
  • citrus wheel or berry for garnish

Method:

  1. Add Crème de Cassis to flute and top with Champagne or sparkling wine.
  2. Garnish with citrus wheel or berry.

Le Marais

La Marais cocktail.
Anne Fishbein

(Created by Shawn Lickliter, Bicyclette)

Named after the famous Parisian neighborhood, this cocktail hinges around entrancing Floc de Gasgone, the fortified French sweet wine made from local brandy.

Ingredients:

  • .75 oz Absinthe
  • .75 oz Floc de Gascogne
  • .75 oz orgeat
  • 1 oz lime
  • 1 dash celery bitters
  • 3 cucumber slices

Method:

  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the cucumber with the lime juice.
  2. Add the other ingredients.
  3. Shake with ice and fine strain into a large rocks glass filled with pebble ice.

French 75

French 75.
robert84ak / Pixabay

We adore a good French 75 cocktail, a drink from the first real heyday of the cocktail movement. There’s a good reason why it’s become the signature drink at countless weddings and a favorite of many barkeeps. Try mixing in some Absinthe or Calvados here, as well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz Champagne (or sparkling wine)
  • 1 oz gin
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes simple syrup
  • lemon twist for garnish

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients except wine in tin and shake.
  2. Strain into a chilled flute and top with sparkling wine and stir gently.

French Connection

whiskey in a crystal glass sitting on a rock in front of a fire.
Thomas Park/Unsplash

Named after the legendary film with one of the best car chases even, the French Connection mixes brandy and amaretto. The results are decidedly heavenly.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 parts Cognac
  • 1 part Amaretto (like Disaronno)
  • 2-3 dashes of aromatic bitters

Method:

  1. Fill cocktail glass with ice.
  2. Add Cognac and Amaretto and stir briefly.
  3. Add aromatic bitters.

The Sophisticate

Sophisticate cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another cheery French number featuring brandy, bubbles, and aromatic liqueur. You’ll want one for brunch, before nap after lunch, and probably over dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 parts D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac
  • .75 part St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • Top with Prosecco
  • citrus for garnish

Method:

  1. Pour Cognac and liqueur into chilled flute.
  2. Top with Prosecco and garnish with citrus.
Mark Stock

Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since. He spent years making, selling, and sipping Pinot Noir in the Dundee Hills before a full return to his journalistic roots in 2016. He's helplessly tied to European soccer, casting for trout, and grunge rock. In addition to The Manual, he writes for SevenFifty Daily, Sip Northwest, The Somm Journal, The Drake, Willamette Week, Travel Oregon, and more. He has a website and occasionally even updates it: markastock.com.

Send all editorial inquiries HERE.

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