Three French Cocktails for Bastille Day!

Even if you’re not French, Liberté, Egalité & Fraternité -  the rallying cry of the revolutionaries who stormed the Bastille Prison -  is a pretty good motto to live by.

There’s a je ne sais quois I love about French culture, idea of taking pleasure in sharing a meal made with fine seasonal ingredients with friends and embracing your own special style. I still get choked up when Les Misérables comes on KQED. To celebrated Bastille Day, I thought I’d share three of my favorite French-inspired cocktails.

1. The French 75

The French 75 - image from The Bubbly Bar

This spirited combination of champagne, lemon and either gin or cognac depending on the season, is a quintessential aperitif. As the story goes, it was created by WWI American officers serving in France who marvelled at the 75mm artillery guns that were still quite powerful and smooth The piquant quality primes your appetite. Since it’s warm outside, I’ll be making mine with gin. In cooler weather, switch to cognac.

1 ounce gin (like Citadel or G’Vine from France)

1/2 ounce homemade sour mix

4 ounces brut champagne, chilled

brandy-soaked cherry, for garnish

Add the gin and sour mix to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a champagne flute. Top with the champagne and drop in the cherry.

 

2. The French Martini

French Martini - image courtesy Chambord

France has been the source of some amazing liqueurs  and mixers – Grand Marnier, Chartreuse, Creme de Violette and the new darling St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. But few are as beloved as Chambord, the black raspberry liqueur in the sherical bottle that dates to the late 1600s. The company created a French martini as a marketing campaign and the cocktail has found an appreciative audience.

1-1/2 ounces Chambord flavored vodka

1/2 ounce Chambord Liqueur

2 ounces pineapple juice

fresh raspberries, for garnish

Add the vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a petite martini glass. Garnish with raspberries.

3. Kir Royale

 

The Kir Royale - image from The Bubbly Bar

This old favorite of mine honors Felix Kir, the former mayor of Dijon, France who was a heroic figure in the 1940s French Resistance. The regular Kir features white Burgundy (chardonnay) wine and crème de cassis; the upgraded Kir Royale is always made with champagne. Old Felix must have been an amazing guy to have such an elegant and enduring cocktail named after him.

½ ounce crème de cassis

5 to 6 ounces brut champagne, chilled

Lemon twist, for garnish

Add crème de cassis to a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

 

Parmesan Toasts – A Champagne-Perfect Snack for #Let’sLunch

These Parmesan Toasts are perfect with sparklin wines of all kinds and they couldn't be easier to make.

As the hostess of The Bubbly Girl, it’s probably no surprise that I think about enjoying champagne and sparkling wine a lot. But many people are surprised to learn that these effervescent wines are perfect for pairing with all kinds of foods.

When people hear the word “champagne,” high-end fare like caviar, lobster and cracked blue crab comes to mind. Those are all delicious with champagne and it’s sparkling sisters. But so are a range of foods that aren’t so high-falutin.

Potato chips, popcorn, french fries – basically anything salty, slightly greasy or crispy is wonderful with champagne and sparkling wine.  Pizza and prosecco is fabulous.  A juicy burger can be deliciously paired with a sparkling wine, as long as it’s got some gravitas from long-aging or richness from pinot noir.

The recipe section of The Bubbly Girl.com shares recipes for seasoned popcorn, savory cheddar shortbread and all sorts of foods that play well with bubbly. When I was invited to contribute a recipe to the #Let’sLunch champagne-friendly snacks lunch, I wanted to do something new and easy.

I kept thinking of the ghetto-gourmet spread I made for grilled corn on the cob this past weekend. The mix of mayonnaise, grated parmesan, seasoned salt and chili powder was exquisite on corn – and tasted pretty good by itself.  I thought this slightly salty, slightly rich spread would taste even toasted on a baguette.

 

Parmesan Toasts

1/4 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan (the crumbly kind)

seasoned salt, to taste

dash of paprika

1/4 French baguette, cut into thin rounds

Mix the mayonnaise, Parmesan, salt and paprika in a small bowl to make a uniform paste. Spread the mixture onto the baguette rounds, so you can’t see through to the bread.

Toast under a broiler – watching them carefully – until golden brown.

Eat while warm with your favorite bubbly.