Smoky French 75 Winter Cocktail Recipe

Winter calls for warming, comforting cocktails, and this smoky French 75 winter cocktail offers an elegant sipper with perfectly balanced flavors. According to Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table, this wintry take on the classic French 75 cocktail substitutes tequila for the usual gin and adds Armagnac, anise-tinged absinthe, and bright orange bitters. The result is a spirit-forward, smooth drink ideal for chillier nights.

With unique ingredients that are brought together by a simple preparation, you can make this sophisticated cocktail at home with low effort and maximum fanfare. The tequila provides a crisp, smoky agave backbone while the Cointreau offers sweet orange richness. The absinthe and bitters lend subtle, herbal complexity without overwhelming the palate. And, the Champagne delivers elegant effervescence.

Each ingredient plays its part, blending citrus, spice, and botanical flavors into a gentle winter warmer. Sip this smoky French 75 when you want to indulge in a special cocktail that's complex yet approachable. It provides quality and comfort without going overboard, making it the perfect choice as the temperatures drop.

Gather the ingredients for this French 75 winter cocktail recipe

To make this smoky French 75 winter cocktail, you will need tequila, Armagnac, red vermouth, Cointreau orange liqueur, Champagne, absinthe, and orange bitters. For garnish, lemon curls add a bright, citrus note. With tequila as the base spirit, the Armagnac and red vermouth provide depth, while Cointreau offers sweetness and a citrusy aroma. The absinthe contributes a smoky, herbal complexity. Bitters enhance the citrus flavor profile further. And finally, the chilled Champagne lifts this alcohol-forward cocktail to new heights and makes it feel light and fun.

Step 1: Add ingredients to a shaker

Add tequila, Armagnac, red vermouth, and Cointreau to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Step 2: Shake

Shake vigorously for 10–15 seconds.

Step 3: Pour into a Champagne flute

Strain into a chilled Champagne flute.

Step 4: Add Champagne

Top with Champagne.

Step 5: Add absinthe

Float the absinthe on top by pouring it gently over an upside-down bar spoon.

Step 6: Add bitters

Add 2 dashes of orange bitters on top.

Step 7: Garnish and serve

Garnish with lemon curls to serve.

Can I make this winter French 75 cocktail without absinthe?

We get it — absinthe is not for everyone. The good news is that you certainly can make this tasty winter cocktail without absinthe if you don't have it on hand or want to avoid the potent anise flavor. The absinthe is used to provide a subtle, herbal complexity, but it is not essential. The drink will still be delicious and well-balanced without it. The tequila, Armagnac, vermouth, Cointreau, bitters, and Champagne are the core ingredients that make this cocktail work, while the absinthe merely adds a finishing touch of licorice flavor. So, don't worry if you don't have any absinthe — go ahead and mix up the rest of the ingredients as directed. You'll end up with a wonderful, citrusy, and lightly spiced winter cocktail that provides comforting warmth with a solid flavor foundation; it carries its own weight even without the aid of the green fairy.

What can I use instead of Champagne in this winter cocktail?

If you want to mix up this wintery cocktail but don't have Champagne, there are several sparkling wines and Proseccos that can nicely stand in for the bubbly Champagne. The key characteristic you want is a dry, effervescent wine that won't overpower the other ingredients. Good options include Cava, Italian Prosecco, French Crémant, and basic brut sparkling wines. Stay away from very sweet sparklers like Asti Spumante or fruity varieties, as you need the wine to act as a palate cleanser between sips, allowing the tequila, citrus, and spice notes to shine. An extra dry Prosecco is ideal, providing lively bubbles to lift the cocktail without added sugar. The Champagne certainly adds elegance, but a more affordable sparkling wine will provide the right texture and flavor balance. Just make sure that it's crisp and dry, and you'll have a delicious, wintry sipper.

What kind of tequila works best in this French 75 winter cocktail recipe?

For this cocktail, you'll want to use a good-quality, 100% agave silver or blanco tequila, or even a reposado. The silver tequilas highlight the fresh, grassy agave flavor rather than the oak and wood notes you find in aged expressions. This allows the bright citrus and botanical ingredients to take center stage, while the tequila provides an anchor of clean agave. Using 100% agave tequila ensures that you get authentic flavors without added sugars and additives. Stay away from golds, aged añejos, or mixtos, as their flavors will clash with the herbal absinthe and orange. A solid but still affordable silver tequila like Espolòn or Olmeca Altos works very well. Just make sure that it's 100% agave to get that crisp, pure agave backbone. This allows the other ingredients to shine rather than overpowering them with the base spirit. If you'd really like to drive the smoky flavor forward, try subbing in a good mezcal, such as mezcal Amaras espadín.

Smoky French 75 Winter Cocktail Recipe
5 from 14 ratings
Give your classic French 75 cocktail a wintry update with this unique variation, which swaps the gin for tequila and features a topping of absinthe.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
1
cocktail
Overhead view of cocktail glass with spoon and lemon
Total time: 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ ounces tequila
  • ½ ounce Armagnac
  • ½ ounce red vermouth
  • ½ ounce Cointreau
  • 2 ounces Champagne
  • 1 splash absinthe
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Lemon curls
Directions
  1. Add tequila, Armagnac, red vermouth, and Cointreau to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for 10–15 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Float the absinthe on top by pouring it gently over an upside-down bar spoon.
  6. Add 2 dashes of orange bitters on top.
  7. Garnish with lemon curls to serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 257
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 0.7 g
Sodium 4.4 mg
Protein 0.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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