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Entertaining
9 Mostly French Cocktails to Celebrate Bastille Day

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July is a month of revolutionary celebration, not only for Americans but also the French, who recognize Bastille Day on July 14. La Fête Nationale, or “The National Celebration,” as it’s called in France, marks the the day in 1789 when, fed up with the tyrannous Bourbon monarchy, an angry mob of Parisians stormed the Bastille fortress. Though it housed only a handful of prisoners, the Bastille was seen as a symbol of monarchic rule, and the bloody assault kicked off the French Revolution.

The occasion is celebrated throughout France and in Francophile communities around the world. In Paris there is a parade on the Champs-Elysées, a flyover by the French air force, fireworks, music and general Champagne-fueled revelry. Since American revolutionary ideas partially inspired the French uprising, it seems only right we all celebrate the holiday together. Here are a few festive, French (or pseudo-Francophile) cocktails to toast La Révolution at your Bastille Day party.

After a few French 75s, you may realize the seemingly modest drink has a kick akin to its namesake WWI-era 75mm artillery. The most commonly cited recipe specifies gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, but it was originally made with Cognac instead of gin. Both versions (the relatively new and old) realize Champagne’s potential as a world-class mixer, and both have their super fans. If you can’t decide between gin and Cognac, try splitting the difference by using  a gin produced in the Cognac region like Citadelle or G’Vine. That way, you honor Bastille Day’s theme of French unity and avoid a fight at your party between opinionated French 75 zealots.

The Essentials

Gin
lemon juice
Champagne
The Boulevardier was invented by American expat Erskine Gwynne, who founded a literary magazine in Paris by the same name in the 1920s. A variant of the Negroni, the Boulevardier calls for whiskey instead of gin. Ironically, Gwynne’s description of his Boulevardier magazine as “fast but clean” is better suited to the crisp Negroni than the publication’s eponymous drink, in which whiskey makes a rich, complex trio with Campari and sweet vermouth.

The Essentials

Rye
Campari
Sweet Vermouth
Both the Kir, a mix of crème de cassis (a black currant liqueur) and white wine, and the Kir Royale (which swaps out white wine for Champagne) were invented by Félix Kir. An ordained priest, the mayor of Dijon and a resistance fighter during WWII, Kir’s signature aperitifs certainly weren’t his greatest accomplishments, but they aren’t far behind. Given Kir’s contributions during another wartime in France, both drinks are appropriate for Bastille Day, but the spritzy Kir Royale is much more festive.

The Essentials

Crème de Cassis
Champagne
The French Martini isn’t really French, and it isn’t really a Martini. The drink mixes vodka with pineapple and black raspberry liqueur—often the French brand Chambord, for which the cocktail is actually named. It was invented in New York during the fruity cocktail explosion of the 1980s, an era during which anything served in a V-shaped glass was called a Martini. Despite its taxonomic flaws, the French Martini is quite tasty. Overthrow the cocktail monarchy, honor the fruity drinks of the people, and dig in to a French Martini.

The Essentials

Vodka
Pineapple Juice
Chambord
If your Bastille Day celebration is starting early, consider serving Bloody Marys. Few roundups of French cocktails mention the classic brunch drink, but it does indeed deserve a place. Legend has it that the savory cocktail was born in Paris at the New York Bar in the 1920s. Plus, blood was indeed shed at the storming of the Bastille, so the cocktail is on point—as gory a point as that may be. Use a French vodka like Grey Goose and serve alongside a baguette or quiche for a truly French start to your (holi)day-drinking.

The Essentials

Vodka
Tomato Juice
Worcestershire Sauce
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
If you plan to start your Bastille Day celebrations early with a brunch-tail, definitely go with the Mimosa. Frank Meier supposedly invented the easy mix of vodka and OJ at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1925, if you believe any one person truly “invented” this classic duo. Pair your glass of fruity bubbly with a croissant or maybe a baguette with creamy brie for full, Frenchy effect.

The Essentials

Orange Juice
Champagne
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
The Sidecar actually derives from an American tipple, the Brandy Crusta, but the two drinks differ in their use of bitters, which bartenders nixed at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1930. Without the bitters, the Sidecar is bright and fruity. French Cognac and Cointreau lead the way with rich, orange flavor, all perked up by a hit of fresh lemon juice.

The Essentials

Cognac
Cointreau
Lemon Juice
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier helped popularize boozy shaved ice in the early 20th century, including this haute rum-spiked granita. White rum, orange juice, white wine, egg white and lemon juice combine to make a frosty treat. It’s topped with a good helping of Champagne for good measure. Consider this the luxe dessert for any good Bastille Day party.

The Essentials

white rum
white wine
orange juice
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
While the origin of this underrated cocktail remains disputed, there’s a good bet Harry’s New York Bar is responsible for bringing this gin drink into the world. Yet again the French Cointreau makes an appearance, this time combining with gin, lemon juice and egg white for a frothy Sour. It’s elegant and refined, like a fine French delicacy.

The Essentials

Gin
Fresh Lemon Juice
Egg White

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