Eating and drinking during the holiday season is all about two things—comfort and classics. That might mean your grandmother’s famous sage turkey stuffing served on your great-aunt’s best China, or maybe cozying up in your threadbare Ralph Lauren sweater to watch It’s A Wonderful Life, but I think we can all agree that occasionally even a classic needs an upgrade.
With fresh cranberries in season and ready to go, now is the perfect time to give a new twist to the French 75, one of our favorite holiday cocktails that happens to be named for a French field gun. The potent combination of gin and champagne has been around for almost 100 years and remains one of our favorites.
Before you pop the cork, you will need to whip up a cranberry simple syrup before your guests arrive, but it’s incredibly easy: combine 1 1/2 c. of fresh cranberries, 1 c. of sugar, 1 c. of water, the zest of one lemon, and a pinch of salt in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Let simmer for around 10 minutes, until the cranberries are beginning to fall apart. Strain twice, reserving the solids and allowing the liquid to cool before using. (The cranberry remnants are a delicious beginning for a cranberry jam or compote!)
To make the Cranberry 75, combine a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice, a 1/2 oz. of cranberry syrup and 1 oz. of gin in a shaker with ice and give a good shake, until frost begins to form on the shaker’s exterior. Strain into a champagne flute or coupe and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a few fresh cranberries (which will float, creating your own micro-cranberry bog) and a few strips of lemon zest.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to use bank-breaking champagne here. In fact, any decent sparkler will do the trick. Lately, we’ve discovered an extremely affordable Cava that would be perfect to buy in bulk for impending celebrations.