Dec 18, 2022 • 56M

Podcast: Classic Cocktails with French Spirits

With Forest Collins of 52 Martinis in Paris

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David Lebovitz
Talks with my favorite bakers, food producers, pastry chefs, bartenders, cooks, spirits experts, and on other topics, such as travel, Paris, and French culinary culture.
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It’s the time of year to celebrate, and if I’m serving a cocktail, I’m always inclined to include one with a French spirit in it. Thankfully, a number of classic cocktails are made even better with French spirits, and I invited my friend Forest Collins to cover over, who writes 52 Martinis, a website dedicated to featuring the best cocktail bars in Paris, to shake, stir, and share a few of her favorite cocktail recipes with us.

During our chat, Forest made three classic cocktails using French ingredients (the recipes are below), and each one was better than the next. The biggest surprise? The 50:50 Martini.

There’s a tendency for some people who enjoy Martinis to make it known to others that they like theirs stingy with the vermouth. But with a flavorful vermouth (or in this case, Cap Corse), you can enjoy a lower ABV cocktail. I’d never had a 50:50 before (sometimes called a Fitty-Fitty), and as you can tell in the podcast, I was overjoyed with it.

Visit 52 Martinis website

(Speaking of variations on the Martini, the vermouth-heavy one may hew closer to the original Martini. Robert Simonson, who wrote The Martini Book, mentioned a theory that the drink might have been named after Martini & Rossi vermouth and was perhaps a more vermouth-forward, apéritif-style drink than we know it today, and served over ice!)

If you’re one of those people who’s used to a martini that’s more gin-forward, give the 50:50 a try. The Jack Rose is also going to go on rotation in my house, and who doesn’t love a good Sidecar?

Enjoy the podcast, and the drinks!


Visit Forest Collins at her website: 52 Martinis

Listen to Forest’s podcast: Paris Cocktail Talk

Follow Forest on Instagram and Facebook

Download Forest’s Paris (free) cocktail app, for iOS: Paris Cocktails

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One cocktail

David’s Note: Some bartenders like to use Cointreau in a Sidecar because it’s transparent. Pierre Ferrand curaçao is distilled, then macerated with Laraha oranges, the fruits that are traditionally used for making curaçao, so it has some natural color and is bright with the flavor and color. Hence, this cocktail will be a little darker than the bright yellow, but (in my opinion) more flavorful.

2 ounces cognac

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice (measured after straining out the pulp)

3/4 ounce dry curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao

1/2 teaspoon rich simple syrup*

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker two-thirds full of ice.

Cover and shake for 10-15 seconds. (David Note: Forest stirs this cocktail because she doesn’t love the look of the bubbles crowding a brown cocktail, but standard practice is to shake it.)

Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe glass.

*To make rich simple syrup: 1 part filtered water and 2 parts granulated sugar shaken together in a jar or bottle with a lid until sugar dissolves. Alternatively, you can heat gently to dissolve the sugar. 

Jack Rose

One cocktail

David Note: Christian Drouin makes a Calvados specifically formulated for using cocktails. It’s available in the U.S. at Astor Wine and Spirits. St. Georges makes a terrific apple brandy in the U.S. But you can find others.

2 ounces Calvados (the more apple forward, the better - )

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice (measured after straining the pulp)

3/4 ounce homemade grenadine syrup*

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker two-thirds full of ice. 

Cover and shake for 10-15 seconds.

Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe glass.

*To make grenadine: equal parts 100% pomegranate juice and granulated sugar, shaken together in a jar or bottle with a lid until sugar dissolves. Alternatively, you can heat gently to dissolve the sugar. For more depth of flavor, add a dash of orange blossom water. 

Download the Paris Cocktails App!

French 50-50 Martini

David Note: Cap Corse is a lesser-known French apéritif made in Corsica. The white version, used here, is a great substitute for gin and is redolent with citron, as well as quinine and various other botanicals cultivated in Corsica. It’s also excellent served over ice with a twist and makes a delicious Cap Corse and Tonic, served in a goblet filled with ice. Once opened, keep the bottle in the refrigerator; being wine-based, it’s best enjoyed a month after it’s opened.

1 1/2 ounces French gin (Forest used Citadelle)

1 1/2 ounces Cap Corse Mattei Blanc

Lemon twist

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, Fill halfway with ice.

Stir for 30 seconds.

Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe glass.

Express the lemon twist over the cocktail, squeezing its skin side facing the drink, to flavor it with lemon oil.

Option: Garnish with the zest or a small slice of preserved lemon.

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