Break out the bubbly, Boozers. With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, we knew that champagne was on order for today’s Tipple, even though we’re happy to enjoy it any day of the week. Our inspiration is the French 75, also known somewhat more elegantly as the Soixante-Quinze, a truly classic cocktail which made its first appearance in New York in 1915. We like it for its international flair, mixing gin with champagne, but have updated it with our usual American sensibility, rather like Woody Allen’s view of Paris: romantic, fresh, slightly absurd, eminently practical.
The foundation of our Midnight in Paris is a Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup; the Meyer Lemon is named for Frank Meyer, an “agricultural explorer” and employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who came across the fruit while on a trip to China in 1908. Its intensely vibrant lemon flavor and rich color creates a sweetly tart syrup that perfectly compliments the juniper undertones of a good gin — this is not a time to skimp on the liquor; we happen to prefer Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin, which is local to our area, but there are many good varieties out there, from Hendrick’s to Juniper Green to Sipsmith.
As to the bubbly, it need not be strictly French champagne — we are a global society, after all — but any dry sparkling wine will do, and we particularly like using a variety from a local winery when we can, like Thibaut-Janisson’s Virginia Fizz, a fruity sparkling Chardonnay which mixes well into a cocktail.
So even if you find yourself sitting in your flannel pyjamas watching the ball drop on television at midnight (and what’s wrong with that?), you can still feel suitably elegant with this drink at your side while you ring in the new year. Bonne Année!
Midnight in Paris
We like to serve this in an old-fashioned champagne goblet — it makes us feel so French, somehow — but it’s just as lovely in a flute. If you can’t find Meyer Lemons, don’t despair — you can make the syrup with regular lemons, just add a little extra juice to increase the flavor.
Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup (recipe below)
Champagne or sparkling white wine
Thinly-sliced lemon wheels coated in sugar, for garnish
Put one tablespoon Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup and 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne glass, then fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Float the lemon wheel on top and enjoy.
Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup
One large Meyer lemon, cut in half and juiced
3/4 cup water
one cup sugar
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a low simmer, then add the lemon juice and the two halves of the lemon. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool; will keep refrigerated for two weeks.