It’s the dawn of a new summer — a new summer that we hope brings more joy than the previous one. And whether you’re mentally preparing for a small (responsible) outdoor gathering or simply looking for a refined aperitif to savor, there’s a fresh summer drink you should consider. Enter the Rémy 75: an effervescent, sophisticated, Cognac-based take on the French 75, just in time for National Cognac Day on June 4.
The appeal of the French 75 is its simplicity — just a spirit, some lemon, and a touch of sweetness, with a hearty pour of Champagne. Most cocktail fans will be familiar with the gin-based version of this drink, but it has a long history with Cognac, a refined French spirit that’s a natural base for a cocktail with “French” right in the name. Made with Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, the drink is smooth, elegant, and perfect for warm summer evenings. But before sharing the exceptionally simple recipe — a few notes on what makes the cocktail so special.
From the Roaring Twenties to 2021
Cognac’s luxury reputation should have made it a constant staple for craft cocktails throughout the decades, yet many of today’s cocktail-drinkers aren’t as familiar with how to enjoy it. So for starters: Cognac is a brandy, distilled from (primarily Ugni Blanc) grapes grown in idyllic vineyards in southwestern France. The grapes become a low-alcohol white wine, which is distilled twice in small copper stills. That creates high-alcohol distillates known as eau-de-vie (“water of life”) that are aged in oak barrels: some for years, others for decades. Cognac, with fruity and floral notes balanced by weight from aging, could appeal to any adult who appreciates the depth of a fine whiskey, the nuanced sweetness of an aged rum, or the finesse of a beautiful wine.
Cognac is perfect for mixing with other grape-based ingredients, like Champagne in the French 75. The history of that cocktail, though, is steeped in lore with suspect facts. We know that by the height of the Roaring Twenties, a gin-based French 75 had found its way into cocktail books. In the 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, which many bartenders consider to be canon, we specifically see a Cognac-based 75. “Gin is sometimes used in place of Cognac in this drink,” the book reads, “but then, of course, it should no longer be called French.”
The 1980s and 1990s wiped out much of classic cocktail culture with appletinis and neon, vodka-spiked everything, but the return of speakeasy culture in the early 2000s brought back drinks like the French 75 in full force. Today, any bar with knowledgeable bartenders can serve a well-made French 75 — and a good number prefer theirs with Cognac.
Because of its nuanced craftsmanship, Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal is ideal for a 75. The citrus notes are brightened by lemon juice, while the well-balanced Cognac provides character. With notes of warm butterscotch, 1738 Accord Royal pairs perfectly with the toasty warmth of a fine Champagne. All to say: a Rémy 75 retains all of Cognac’s sophistication, taking a classic cocktail to an elevated new level.
How to enjoy a Rémy 75
The French 75 is a surprisingly simple cocktail for how complex it tastes on the first sip. And as we ease back into responsibly socializing, having a go-to cocktail means less time preparing for entertaining and more time actually enjoying moments with friends or family.
Cognac brings the jubilant spirit of the Roaring Twenties into today, admittedly with less raucous implications. You can make a single Rémy 75 to savor yourself or a round for a small gathering, on a summer evening that just might feel more hopeful again. A simple recipe is below, and with that, you’ll be ready to toast the coming summer and whatever it might bring for you. Santé!