Cocktail of the Week: French 75

Anna StockwellWhile sorting through books for an upcoming move, I came upon my husband's cache of Agatha Christie mysteries and have been devouring them all summer. My favorites were written during the 1920's and 1930s, a period that roughly coincides with the heyday of the cocktail. While Christie's characters aren't heavy drinkers, they do like their gin: pink gin, double gin, gin fizz. In The Murder at the Vicarage, the fussy Mrs. Ridley describes her reaction to hearing a gun shot: "Clara had to bring me a glass of damson gin!" And here's Tony Marston, pausing on his way to an island retreat in And Then There Were None: "Heaps of time! . . . He'd have a gin and ginger beer. Fizzing hot day!" Given his fate, poor Mr. Marston should have stayed for a second and missed his ferry to Indian Island.

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No wonder I've been craving gin cocktails. While I've never met a gin drink I didn't like, it's the French 75 I turn to when I want something that's pretty to look at, equally easy to make and drink, and yet complex enough to stay interesting all the way down. With nose-tickling bubbly as the gateway to a perfectly integrated combination of floral gin and citrus, the French 75 was named for an innovative piece of French artillery. And when made properly, it is as seductive as a Christie who-dunnit, and will always deliver the vivifying jolt I need to get the weekend started. -Stacey Harwood

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MAKES 1 COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS 1 oz. gin
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Brut champagne or a dry sparkling white wine
Lemon twist, to garnish

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INSTRUCTIONS Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.

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