I had the pleasure to invent a cocktail for a group of friends to drink this weekend — and not just any group of friends, but the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Our holiday party went virtual like everything else has this year, and they asked me to bartend something festive that people could make and enjoy while we had the rest of the evening’s festivities.
If you’ve been following my cocktail posts for a while, you know that making cocktails that everyone can make isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. I spend a lot of time finding new ingredients and leveraging all the odd stuff in my liquor cabinet. But this felt like an opportunity to do something simple and fun.
I ended up going with a principle of classic cocktail making that always makes me shake my head, but was awfully convenient for this exercise: if you take a classic cocktail and change one ingredient in it, it’s a new cocktail and you get to name it!
So with past TFC parties in mind, I started with the French 75, which once upon a time was much consumed at the late lamented Brasserie Jo after concerts. (The fact that it’s named after a French artillery piece also means it’s never far from my cocktail imagination.) The name was natural, given the year: the French 75 becomes the TFC 50.
And to get to festive, I got rid of the powdered sugar, which I always hate because it doesn’t mix well, and replaced it with something else sweet and also festive in color: grenadine. I’m not normally a big fan, but I had just ordered some nice grenadine after being disappointed by the flavor profile of the old supermarket standby and figured I’d give it a go.
A few notes about the cocktail:
- The kind of gin matters. London Dry gin (e.g. Beefeaters, Tanqueray) can be substituted with some other gins, but you have to know the flavor profile. Something botanical heavy like Hendricks is going to yield a completely different drink, while something like Berkshire Greylock Gin will substitute pretty successfully. In this drink you can go a little less dry as well, but only a little: Plymouth works, but Old Tom does not.
- Surprisingly, the kind of grenadine matters. Turns out that using Stirrings tastes nicer, but you need to use more of it to counterbalance the sourness from the lemon. And it doesn’t do much to the color. On the other hand, using just a little Rose’s yields just exactly the right festive color and sweetness.
- And of course, the kind of bubbly matters. Since I was getting rid of the powdered sugar, I went with a less dry sparkling wine—namely prosecco.
Anyway, please enjoy! I sadly didn’t take pictures of this one but you can enjoy the recipe anyway; as always, you can import this image into Highball if you use that fine app.