Oh, oui! Celebrate Bastille Day with these 3 classic gin cocktails from France

We have a lot to thank the French for: camembert, Champagne, Michel Roux Jr’s twinkling eyes. Of course, we all associate France with the best that food and drink has to offer, but the one area we perhaps don’t often link to les Francais is cocktails. However, did you know that several of the world’s best-loved gin cocktails originated in France? Oui, oui, c’est vrai!

So, without further ado - or should that be ‘adieu’? - here are three of the best gin cocktails invented in France. Let’s all raise a toast to our French friends this Bastille Day and say ‘merci’ for gifting these cocktails to the world!

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Monkey Gland

Created in the 1920s by the famous Harry MacElhone*, owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris, the Monkey Gland was apparently a cheeky nod to the (unscientific) theory that grafting tissue from monkey’s, er, naughty bits onto humans would increase longevity…. maybe whoever thought that up had already had a few gins too many?! Anyway, it’s pretty, punchy, and delicious.

40ml gin
20ml orange juice
Dash of grenadine
Dash of Absinthe

Pack a shaker with ice, add all the ingredients, shake and strain into a Martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

*Yes, Harry was English… but let’s not focus on that, eh? We don’t want to start another Napoleonic war!


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White Lady

There is some debate about the origins of the White Lady, but for the purposes of this feature we’ll gloss over the versions that claim it was invented in New York or London and settle for the story that it was - again - Harry’s New York Bar in Paris that was the birthplace of the delicious cocktail we have come to know and love.

50ml gin
24ml triple sec
15ml lemon juice
Egg white (optional)

Combine your ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake for 20 seconds, until the egg is emulsified. Add ice and shake again, straining into a chilled cocktail coupe and serving straightaway.


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French 75

Well, it wouldn’t be a celebration of French cocktails without the most famous of them all, now would it? Invented in 1915, it gained its name as a result of the powerful after-effects of the drink, which was jokingly said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with a French 75mm field gun.

30ml gin
20ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled, to top up

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into a flute. Top with champagne or sparkling wine and serve.


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