July 14: La Fête Nationale

Liberty-Leading-the-Peopl-001Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

Bonjour, Mesdames et Messieurs and a happy Bastille Day to you and yours. Today is the 125th anniversary of the storming of the Parisian prison-fortress known as the Bastille, marking the beginning of the French Revolution.

It all began when King Louis XVI dismissed one of his best regarded advisers. The people of France began to fear that Louis was planning to reassert his dominance over France by sending the royal military to attack Paris and capture or kill the members of the National Constituent Assembly, an attempt to create a governmental body that would represent the common people. The people of Paris stormed the Bastille in the hope of acquiring weapons and freeing political prisoners. Ironically, there were only seven prisoners in the Bastille at the time, and none of them were political. Riots soon broke out around Paris, with some French Guard soldiers joining the people’s cause.

In light of these events, Louis would back down and allow a constitutional monarchy to take effect in France. Unfortunately, this only lasted until the summer of 1792; when the French royal family was arrested, the monarchy dissolved, and a new republic was established. Eventually, protests got out of hand until everything turned to merde and execution by guillotine became the leading form of popular entertainment, until Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799.

Nowadays, Bastille Day is celebrated as the dawn of a new era for France, a celebration of the noble ideals of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” that led the people of Paris to stand up to the king and destroy the Bastille, one of the great symbols of oppression under Louis XVI and the (unfortunately bloody) path to a government for and by the people.

So, as you celebrate Bastille Day today, why not make a French 75 cocktail? This drink was invented by legendary barman Harry MacElhone at his New York Bar in Paris and named after the famous field gun of the same name because it was said to pack the same punch. Although there is debate about whether the drink should be made with gin or cognac, as it’s Bastille Day we’re going to use the finest French Cognac to make this drink.

French 75

  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • Champagne

Pour the Cognac, syrup and lemon juice in a ice filled cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a chilled champagne glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with Champagne, and garnish with a lemon twist. Bon appétit!

Tomorrow: STOP

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