Occasionally, at the new bar I work in, I get requests for a French Martini. Prior to this I had never heard of one, nor had I made one, but after a quick look through Difford’s Guide to Cocktails, it was a simple effort to shake one up. What strikes me odd about this cocktails is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of "french" in this cocktail. But then again so many cocktails suffer from this problem. The part that makes this a French Martini, is the Chambord raspberry liqueur. The vodka and pineapple juice are not that french, but they do combine nicely in this cocktail, in a martini fashion.
The key ingredient in this cocktails is Chambord, which is made from black raspberries, honey, vanilla and some herbs. Chambord has been made for about 300 years in France (since 1685) and is a sweet, but tasty liqueur. Chambord is all natural, unlike other synthetically flavour liqueurs and is a very versatile liqueur in cocktails. It is relatively light in alcohol strength, at 23%, and has a retail price, for a 750ml bottle, of $38 CDN ($30US).
The French Martini was created by the Chambord liqueur company for a world wide promotion. It seems to have worked, and the cocktail is now quite popular. This is what liqueur and spirit companies need to do when creating cocktails. Most spirit companies just take the name of their product and apply it to a long list of classic cocktails. That’s just so boring and unimaginative. But is Chambord’s case, they created a popular cocktail that is original and tied to the product. This is good marketing.
2 oz Vodka
½ oz Chambord
2 ½ oz Pineapple Juice
Back a shaker full of ice and add all ingredients. Shake or stir*. Stain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
* I shake because the pineapple juice makes the drink cloudy anyway, and the shaking give the drink a nice light texture because pineapple juice froths nicely.
When the Chambord company was creating the French Martini, it might have been more French to include brandy instead of vodka. One of these days I’ll shake one up with brandy and check out whether it works or not. They probably tried it and decided that for mass appeal and the martini moniker, vodka was the proper choice. For now, if you want to put a little more “;french” in your French Martini, use Ciroc vodka which is a grape based vodka (sounds like grappa to me). Or you can use the ubiquitous Grey Goose vodka which is of french origin.
Another good cocktail to make with Chambord is simply adding an ounce to a flute of champagne. This is a much nicer cocktail than a Kir Royale, even though a Kir Royale is a great drink also. It’s good to mix thing up every once in a while.
Want to try something different? How about a Sex on the Beach