5 French-Inspired Cocktails to Make This Summer

By Vicki Denig

Although French wine gets all of the love, the country certainly knows a thing or two about creating tasty distillates. From Cointreau to Calvados to Lillet and beyond, there’s a reason why French spirits / liqueurs so frequently find themselves in international cocktail creations – they’re well made, they’re reliable, and they certainly overdeliver in terms of quality-to-price ratio. We enlisted the help of four bar professionals around the United States to share their favorite French-inspired cocktail recipes, all based upon a variety of French distillates. Get your shakers ready!  

5 French-Inspired Cocktails to Make This Summer

In this article

Just Vibe - by DeAndre Jackson, bar manager at Bar Bohémien 

A shaken, French-inspired riff on a crowd favorite, the spicy margarita. 

2 oz. Altos Reposado 
.75 Yellow Chartreuse  
1 oz. Lime 
.25 Agave 
3 dashes Bittermens Hellfire Bitters (more or less depending on your tolerance to spice) 

Method: Shake all ingredients together and strain over ice.  
AC Baker, general manager at Bar Bohémien at Citizen Public Market notes that the bar is inspired by the greatest cities in the world, particularly Paris. “This is why we use a lot of French liquors/liqueurs in our cocktails,” she says. “As a lover of versatility and Chartreuse’s herbaceous flavor, it adds depth to the flavor profile of any cocktail.” 

© ©Just Vibe Cocktail

Summer of Love - by AC Baker, general manager at Bar Bohémien 

Whether you are in the South of France or a beach in Hawaii, this is Bar Bohemien’s variation of a classic 1944 Mai Tai. 

2oz Havana Club Añejo Blanco rum 
.5oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice 
.5oz Orgeat (Almond Syrup) 
.5oz Cointreau 

Method: Shake all ingredients together and strain over ice.  
“Cointreau’s zesty orange flavor should be the standard and essential triple sec for all bars. These two items [Cointreau and Chartreuse] live up to the ethos of the Bohémiem lifestyle: simple yet artistic,” says Baker.

© ©Summer of Love

Water Lily Pond - by Slava Borisov, mixologist at Travelle at the Langham 

1 oz Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint vodka 
1 oz Lillet Blanc 
0.5 oz elderflower liqueur 
1.5 oz Prosecco 
1.5 oz Soda water 

Method: Pour Ketel One Botanical, Lillet Blanc, and elderflower liqueur into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes and stir. Strain the liquid into a wine glass and fill with cubed ice. Pour soda water and Prosecco on top. With a bar spoon gently stir the cocktail several times to make sure all ingredients are incorporated well. Garnish with a cucumber spear and a mint sprig. 

“The inspiration for this cocktail came from one of the remarkable paintings of Claude Monet’s Water Lily Pond,” Borisov explains. “Another aromatic component is a French wine-based aperitif, Lillet Blanc, which highlights the connection between the cocktail ingredients and Monet's country of origin, where he created his famous masterpieces.”

© ©Water Lily Pond

Calvarac - by Shawn Lickliter, director of bar operations at Bicyclette  

1oz Calvados 
1oz Earl Grey Infused Bourbon 
.5oz Strega 
Tsp Citrus Oleo Saccharine 
2 dashes Peychaud Bitters 
1 dash Aromatic Bitters 
Absinthe rinse 

Method: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to chill. Strain into an absinthe rinsed rocks glass. Express a grapefruit peel and lemon peel over top. 

“Calvados is one of the greatest spirits in the world and tragically underused in cocktails,” Lickliter reveals, stating that his Calvarac cocktail is a spin on the classic Sazerac. “The warming spice and tart green apple notes from Calvados really shine with the earl grey tea and the saffron laced Strega.” Lickliter explains that since Calvados sees wood aging, the distillate is an easy (and insanely delicious) substitute in whiskey-based cocktails.  

© ©Calvarac

 Le Marais - by Shawn Lickliter, director of bar operations at Bicyclette  

.75oz Absinthe 
.75oz Floc de Gascogne 
.75oz Orgeat 
1oz Lime 
1 dash Celery Bitters 
3 cucumber slices 

Method: In a mixing tin, muddle the cucumber with the lime juice. Add the other ingredients. Shake with ice and fine strain into a large rocks glass filled with pebble ice. 

“For the Le Marais, I wanted to make a cocktail that showcases the versatility of absinthe, [as well as] break the stereotype of it being too strong,” explains Lickliter. “I love Floc de Gascogne as an aperitif, and the two marry together beautifully with cucumber and almond.” 

© ©Le Marais

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