How did the French 75 cocktail get its name – and what did it have to do with the Royal Flying Corps?
Did you know the French 75 cocktail originated from the First World War? Speaking on the HistoryExtra podcast, Paul Beaver explains the drink’s surprising origins...
When the Royal Flying Corps first flew to France in August 1914, at the start of the First World War, it is said they took London Gin to remind themselves of home. They expected the French to have tonic which they could use as a mixer; unfortunately, they did not.
“This proved to be a big problem,” describes Paul Beaver, “as they still needed something to mix with their gin”. Instead, the men decided to add champagne to their drinks.
“In doing so, they created what was probably the first cocktail to be made in war,” Beaver adds. “It was called the French 75, named after the French 75-millimeter light field guns that fired throughout the day and night, and made it impossible for the Corps to sleep.” It was said that the drink had such a kick, that it felt like being shelled by one of these powerful artillery pieces.
“It’s certainly a fun and unexpected bit of trivia about the Royal Flying Corps,” says Beaver. “After all, what do you expect from army officers?”
Want to try your hand at making the famous cocktail? Try this French 75 recipe from BBC Good Food.
On the podcast | Paul Beaver answers listener questions and top internet search queries surrounding military aviation, including origins, allegiances, and popular myths.
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