For the last three years, I’ve thrown myself a dessert party for my birthday. “I can make my own birthday cake if I want” is generally the idea, and the theme is loosely French: cheese, chocolate, champagne. This year, to keep things simple, I decided to only serve a champagne cocktail and sparkling rose. To keep things French, I decided to play off of the classic French 75 cocktail. I infused the simple syrup with lavender and swapped out some of the lemon juice for more floral tasting Meyer lemon juice. Seeing as it was my 28th birthday, I thought my cocktail would be appropriately named the “French 28.” Nobody can agree on where the “75” comes from anyway.
A few things to note: fresh lemon juice is essential for a top-notch cocktail. You don’t have to squeeze it yourself, but please don’t use shelf-stable bottled stuff. I mixed regular (Eureka) lemon juice and Meyer lemon juice, but that’s totally optional. A dry champagne or sparkling wine is ideal, and something more floral than earthy is best. If you’re serving a crowd, you can mix the syrup, lemon juice, and gin ahead and chill in bottles. Come party time, it’s easy to serve with equal parts mixer and champagne. A champagne flute is my preferred glass.
½ oz lavender simple syrup (see below)
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz gin
2 oz dry champagne
Combine syrup, lemon juice, and gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.
Combine 1 cup syrup, 1 cup lemon juice, and 2 cups gin in a 32 oz+ bottle and chill. To serve, add 2 oz. mixer and 2 oz. champagne in a champagne flute. Garnish with lemon twist.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried lavender
Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add lavender, and cover. Allow to cool to room temperature, strain out lavender, and chill in an airtight bottle or jar. (For easy cleanup, I like to use a mesh tea ball for the lavender.)