Drink Up December:
Mandarin Cherry French 75
December 23, 2021
Send 2021 out with a bang by enjoying Drink Up December! Five Thursdays (or four and a Tuesday), five cocktails perfect for chilly weather, the holiday season, and spending time with loved ones. Whether you are celebrating family, an accomplishment, or simply making it through another year, this sweet and bold take on a classic is the perfect bubbly of choice. A Mandarin Cherry French 75 brings a tasty twist to a truly historic drink, making it perfect for clinking glasses!
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Like most pre-prohibition cocktails, the French 75 has a storied history, and has evolved greatly over time, with one constant – gin. The other ingredients, the glass, even whether it’s served with ice or not have shifted throughout time. These days, the name mostly refers to a gin and champagne cocktail.
This version is based on that modern style of French 75, using a dry prosecco instead of champagne, and adding a few additional flavors to make it a bit more festive. Cherry liqueur is a throwback to the grenadine in the original recipe, and mandarin orange replaces lemon juice.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these Cherry Mandarin French 75 cocktails at your local stores:
- Produce: Mandarin orange
- Pantry: Powdered sugar
- From the Bar: Gin, Cherry liqueur, Prosecco, Cocktail cherries
- Equipment: Boston-style shaker with glass, Cocktail strainer, Coupe or flute glasses
Let’s Make Mandarin Cherry French 75 Cocktails
Not only is this drink delicious, refreshing, and bubbly, but it’s also very fast to mix and serve. You can serve it in either coupe glasses or flutes, both of which are fun for any sparkling wine-based cocktail.
I like the look of coupes better, and they feel a little more pre-prohibition to me. However, if you will be clinking glasses all evening, flutes may be better for splash control. To get started, add the cherry liqueur to the bottom of two chilled glasses of whichever shape you choose.
There are different types of cherry liqueurs out there, but for this recipe I recommend using one that has a balance of sweet and tart. I used one from the local Finger Lakes Distilling. If you can’t find any cherry liqueur, you can easily replace it with cherry syrup or grenadine and add a couple dashes of cherry bitters instead.
In the glass of a Boston shaker, add the fresh-squeezed mandarin orange juice and powdered sugar. Stir with a long-handled spoon or bar spoon to mix these together until the sugar has dissolved. Using powdered sugar here will help it dissolve faster, but you could also use a rich simple syrup.
Add the gin and ice to the glass. When it comes to types of gin, I recommend using either a citrus-forward or dry variety here to compliment the flavors. I wouldn’t use anything too piney or floral. I used a gin from the local Black Button Distilling.
Cover the glass with the other half of the shaker and press to create a seal. Shake the drink until everything is combined and the shaker feels very cold, about 15 seconds.
Pour the shaken cocktail through a hawthorne strainer into the prepared glasses. If you don’t have this style, a mesh strainer will work fine. You can also use the built-in strainer from a cobbler shaker, if that’s what you have available.
Top each glass with the prosecco. I suggest using a dry or brut variety that doesn’t set you back too much. The Zonin that I used is affordable and generally easy to find. Finally, add a few cocktail cherries each to a couple skewers, and place one in each drink.
When it comes to preparing ahead, this cocktail tastes best when it’s mixed to serve, just before enjoying. You can multiply the ingredients to make more at once if you have a large enough shaker. I definitely recommend a Boston-style shaker if you are mixing large batches at the same time.
Celebrating? Try this sweet and sparkly drink that’s a twist on a classic: Mandarin Cherry French 75!
How to Serve a Mandarin Cherry French 75
I designed this drink with New Year’s Eve in mind, but it’s perfect for any sort of celebration. Try serving these with a small group for a party, alongside a grazing table-type meal. Finish off with a cookie spread featuring cherry chocolate chip cookies, persimmon rye thumbprints, and lemon curd sandwich cookies.
The fruity flavors and bubbly texture of this cocktail also lend themselves to brunch. I love the idea of leaning into the citrus flavors and serving this with a mandarin orange posset tart. If you prefer to highlight the cherry, then try it alongside a classic tart cherry cobbler with sour milk biscuit topping.
This drink is also a wonderful idea for any sort of toast celebrating love, such as a wedding or intimate and romantic date night. For a dessert just as fun and fancy, try pairing this drink with cherry cheesecake napoleons.
Other Sparkling Cocktails
Mandarin Cherry French 75
- 1 oz Fresh Mandarin Orange Juice about 1 small-medium mandarin orange
- ½ tsp Powdered Sugar
- 3 oz Gin dry or citrus-forward
- ½ oz Cherry Liqueur see note
- 6 oz Prosecco or any dry or brut sparkling wine
- 2-4 Cocktail cherries optional, for garnish
- Add the cherry liqueur to the bottom of two chilled coupe glasses (or champagne flutes).
- In the glass of a Boston shaker, add the fresh-squeezed mandarin orange juice and powdered sugar. Stir to mix until dissolved.
- Add the gin and ice to the shaker glass. Cover with the metal half of the shaker, and shake until combined and very cold, about 15 seconds. Pour through a hawthorne strainer into the prepared glasses.
- Top with the prosecco and then garnish with cocktail cherries to serve.
- Cherry liqueur: There are different types of cherry liqueurs, and for this recipe I recommend using one that has a balance of sweet and tart. If you can't find the liqueur, replace with cherry syrup or grenadine and add a couple dashes of cherry bitters instead.
- Make ahead tip: This drink is very fast to mix and serve, and it taste best when prepared just before enjoying. You can multiply the ingredients to make more at once, if you have a large enough shaker. I recommend a Boston-style shaker if baking large batches at once.