Here are 10 Easy French Cocktails that you can make at home for a sophisticated start to a dinner party or simply a refreshing apéritif with friends. Transport yourself to a bistro in Paris or a seaside café on the French Riviera. The world of French cocktails is really fun because they are often simple to make and very enjoyable to drink. A two-ingredient cocktail , like a Kir Royale cocktail or a Pastis, that can be made in seconds as guest arrives is a dinner party saver.
French people often start a meal with an aperitif as it opens the appetite and is an enjoyable way to start a meal, not only on special occasions.
Classic Cocktail Bars in France are worth visiting. You will never forget a visit to the Ernest Hemingway Bar at the Ritz in Paris or the Fitzgerald Bar at the Hotel Belles Rives on the French Riviera.
Read below for my favorite Classic French Cocktails
- Kir Royale
- Piscine Pêche
- Vin Chaud au Grand Marnier
- St Germain Spritz
- Grand 75
- French 75
How to stock a French Bar Cart
- Ricard or Pernod (we always carry Ricard in our house!)
- St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
- Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
- Champagne (chilled)
- Dry white wine (a lightly oaked chardonnay like those from Burgundy)
- Grand Marnier
- Red wine (Pinot Noir)
- Dry Vermouth (like Noilly Prat)
- Soda Water
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Lime Juice
- Simple syrup
- lemon twist
- orange juice
- Cocktail Shaker
- Champagne Glass
- Wine Glass
- Martini Glass
My Favorite Champagne Cocktail : Kir Royale
This Kir Royale cocktail recipe is chic and refreshing. My favorite cocktail, made with champagne and crème de cassis, as seen on the latest season of Emily in Paris.
Most French Café menus feature this delicious cocktail, it is a favorite for an afterwork apéro (cocktail hour) with friends. I personally love to welcome guests to a dinner party with this cocktail - it always puts people in a festive mood!
- 5 oz Champagne or Sparkling Wine (dry - not sweet)
- 1 tbsp Crème de Cassis Liqueur
- Pour the Crème de Cassis Liqueur into the bottom of a champagne flute
- Top with chilled Champagne or Sparkling Wine
- Stir and serve immediately
Le Chef's Wife Tip: Make sure you are using dry champagne (classified as Brut) or sparking wine for this recipe. The Crème de cassis is already quite sweet - if you use a sweet sparkling wine (demi-sec or doux) the drink will be much too sweet. I find that 5 to 1 is the perfect balance of champagne.
What Champagne to use in French Cocktails
All sparkling wine is not Champagne. Champagne is made from the Champagne region of France and upholds very strict standards for vinification. Italy and Spain are also very proud of their sparkling wines, Prosecco and Cava. When in doubt - call it bubbly. My favorite champagnes for cocktails are veuve clicquot, moet chandon or Laurent Perrier. More recently I have been using Chandon Sparkling wine , which is the Napa version of Moët Chandon that is excellent quality for money.
I don't suggest using your very best champagne for cocktails - you can't appreciate all the flavors once they have a mixer added to them!
Just like the Kir Royale, except it is made with a dry white wine and crème de cassis instead of Champagne. I also like this refreshing cocktail that is available at every cocktail bar in France, and usually for only a few euros. A classic French drink.
The Kir takes its name from priest Félix Kir who first mixed white burgundy wine (Chardonnay) with creme de cassis.
- 5 oz Dry White Wine (Such as a White Burgundy or Chardonnay)
- 1 tbsp Crème de Cassis Liqueur
- Pour the Crème de Cassis Liqueur into the bottom of a wine glass
- Top with chilled white wine
- Stir and serve immediately
One sip of this Sparkling Rosemary Peach Piscine Cocktail immediately brings me back to beach days on the French Riviera.
Legend has it that Brigitte Bardot herself coined the term “Piscine” to refer to the oversized glasses of Rosé served over ice cubes in the glamorous beach clubs of Saint-Tropez.
- ¼ of a ripe peach cut into thin slices
- 5 oz Champagne or Sparkling wine
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- Crushed ice
A half hour before serving, remove the rosemary leaves off each sprig, leaving just the tops for visual effect. Set aside the sprigs to decorate the cocktail before serving.
Place the removed leaves of rosemary in a shallow bowl with the peach slices. Pour 3oz of Sparkling wine to cover and let the mixture infuse for a half hour in the fridge.
When you are ready to serve, arrange the infused peach slices at the bottom of each large wine glass (I personally like to fan them out over the bottom). Add one handful of crushed ice in each glass. Strain the rosemary infused sparkling wine (discard the leaves) and pour over the peaches and ice until the glasses are half full, topping up with more chilled sparkling wine as needed.
Use the rosemary sprig as a mixing straw and serve.
Vin Chaud au Grand Marnier
Vin Chaud, also known as Mulled Wine, is a classic Après-Ski drink. This winter Le Chef taught me how to make his recipe that he learned while working in Courchevel and I don't think I will ever go back to regular mulled wine again!
INGREDIENTS FOR LE CHEF'S VIN CHAUD AU GRAND MARNIER RECIPE (makes 5 cocktails)
- 1 bottle Red Wine (no need for an expensive bottle - go with something fruity like a Pinot Noir)
- ¼ cup Grand Marnier
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 whole star anis
- 3 orange peels (equivalent of about ½ of an orange skin)
- 4 tablespoons of Brown Sugar (the cheaper your wine the more sugar you will want to add)
Pour the entire bottle of wine into a sauce pan. Add the spices and orange peel and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer (very lightly) for 10 minutes. At this point your home will smell absolutely delicious!
Bring the heat down to low and add in the brown sugar. Gently stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat.
With a slotted spoon, remove the spices and orange peel and discard.
Add the Grand Marnier. Gently whisk for 30 seconds then let rest on the stove without heat for 5 minutes.
Serve into tempered glasses (like my favorite Duralex tumblers) or mugs. Top with a slice of orange. Enjoy immediately!
One of my all time favorite french martinis. A Gin cocktail that is softened by the addition of St Germain.
- ½ oz St Germain
- 1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
- 1 oz Gin (an aromatic dry gin, like Bombay Sapphire is suggested by St-Germain)
- 1 green olive
- Combine gin, dry vermouth and gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until fully combined and chilled.
Pour into a chilled martini glass and serve.
St Germain Spritz
An effervescent cocktail you will love made with:
- 1 ½ oz St Germain
- 2 oz sparking wine
- 2 oz sparkling water
- Lemon zeste
Can be served in a champagne flute or in a wine glass with ice if you choose.
- 1.5 oz Grand Marnier
- ½ oz Fresh Lemon juice
- 3 oz Champagne
Pour the ingredients together in a champagne flute and serve.
One of the most popular Paris cocktails, loved almost even more in the United States.
- 1 oz Gin
- ½ oz lemon juice
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 3 oz champagne
Pour the ingredients together in a champagne flute and top with a lemon twist.
What to serve with French Cocktails
What is your favorite French cocktail? Let me know if there are any recipes you would like me to share.
Le Chef's Wife
ABOUT LE CHEF'S WIFE
Bonjour! I am Anina Belle. I translate the fancy cooking of my Michelin-star trained French Chef Husband, Le Chef, into easy to make dishes that busy people with no culinary training (like me!) can make at home. We have two young kids (5 and 2) and I have a full time job in hospitality in addition to this blog. I strongly believe that even busy people deserve to eat well at home.
Look inside our Kitchen with this recent Washington Post Article. We were recently featured on the TODAY SHOW for our recipes of French Onion Soup Gratinée and Moelleux au Chocolat. You can watch our full segment here:
I share our home cooking on Instagram, pinterest and tiktok. Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to receive my new recipes and have advance access to cooking classes. I look forward to cooking with you!
(This post contains affiliate links - if you purchase from the links I have share I receive a small commission - at no cost to you! Thank you for supporting my business. )