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!
(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.
- 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:
- Combine 25 grams of Earl Grey tea with a bottle (750-ml) of Old Forester Single Barrel Bourbon in a non-reactive container.
- Let steed for 20 minutes, then fine strain.
- Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir to chill.
- Strain into an absinthe rinsed rocks glass.
- Express a grapefruit peel and lemon peel over top.
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.
- 1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- .75 oz Campari
- .75 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
- Stir in mixing glass with ice.
- Strain over ice and garnish with an orange twist, following its expression.
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.
- 1 part Crème de Casiss
- 9 parts Champagne (although any good sparkling wine will do)
- citrus wheel or berry for garnish
- Add Crème de Cassis to flute and top with Champagne or sparkling wine.
- Garnish with citrus wheel or berry.
(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.
- .75 oz Absinthe
- .75 oz Floc de Gascogne
- .75 oz orgeat
- 1 oz lime
- 1 dash celery bitters
- 3 cucumber slices
- In a mixing tin, muddle the cucumber with the lime juice.
- Add the other ingredients.
- Shake with ice and fine strain into a large rocks glass filled with pebble ice.
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.
- 3 oz Champagne (or sparkling wine)
- 1 oz gin
- .5 oz lemon juice
- 2 dashes simple syrup
- lemon twist for garnish
- Combine all ingredients except wine in tin and shake.
- Strain into a chilled flute and top with sparkling wine and stir gently.
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.
- 1.5 parts Cognac
- 1 part Amaretto (like Disaronno)
- 2-3 dashes of aromatic bitters
- Fill cocktail glass with ice.
- Add Cognac and Amaretto and stir briefly.
- Add aromatic bitters.
Another cheery French number featuring brandy, bubbles, and aromatic liqueur. You’ll want one for brunch, before nap after lunch, and probably over dinner.
- 1.5 parts D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac
- .75 part St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- Top with Prosecco
- citrus for garnish
- Pour Cognac and liqueur into chilled flute.
- Top with Prosecco and garnish with citrus.
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