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Blog written by Mixology & Craft.
The French Connection is an often overlooked beverage, and after you read this blog, you’ll be wondering why. For you see, this cocky little cocktail has an origin story that most of us dream of having - one involving movies, crime, and a synonymous name with a famous international drug smuggling operation.
Pretty badass, right? So, with all of this hype and hootenanny, what could the French Connection cocktail ingredients actually be? Loads of complex aromas? Shots on shots of liquor?? Several ounces of cocaine???
Nope. Well, it’s got some of those things. I’ll let you guess which ones.
I’m sure I’ve piqued your curiosity and you’re chomping at the bit trying to learn more about this beverage (and if not you can skip directly to the recipe by scrolling down. I would add a button here to do so, but I don’t know how to do that). So don’t worry, we’re going to get into all of it - the foggy origins of the French Connection cocktail, the flavor profile behind the classic French Connection cocktail ingredients, the recipe for a feisty French connection that will have your friends fiending for more, and the tools you’ll need to make it with.
Now put your disco shirt and platform boots, because we’re about to take it back to the 1970s!
To do that, let’s start at the top. Despite sharing a name, the French Connection cocktail has nothing to do with the international heroin smuggling trade between Turkey and France. I know that’s disappointing, but the actual origin is pretty cool, too.
It actually gets its name from a 1971 movie called, well, The French Connection - a wild crime drama in which a young Gene Hackman plays the role of ‘Popeye Doyle’, whose name makes him sound like a cartoon character that eats a lot of spinach but also regularly gets shoved in a locker by bullies named Chad or Biff.
I haven’t seen the movie.
Beyond that, not much is known about the French Connection cocktail’s history, other than it is simple, satisfying, and just a little bit sexy. If it’s anything like my conception, I’m sure it got its start in a local bar somewhere.
What’s in a French Connection, you ask? Easy: cognac and amaretto. Boom. That’s it!
And what’s amaretto, you ask? You ask a lot of questions. That’s fine.
Let’s find out together:
Amaretto is an Italian liqueur that is derived from apricot kernels. These kernels give amaretto a bittersweet, almond-y flavor that is perfect to drink with foods on the sweeter side, like biscotti or tiramisu! (Those also happen to be the only Italian desserts I know of, so this works out great).
Semi-fun fact, you can also derive the flavor of this delicious liqueur from the name! ‘Amaretto’ comes from the Italian word ‘Amaro’, meaning bitter. Unclear where the ‘etto’ comes from, but I assume it’s related to Italian, which I do not know.
Don’t let that fool you though! Amaretto is the sweeter half of the French Connection cocktail’s ingredients.
Notes of brown sugar and almonds counter the natural bitterness of the apricot pits, making a perfect, harmonious mix. It perfectly pairs with the hardness of cognac, making a flavor profile that’s right down the middle of fruity, nutty, and bitter.
Excellent question for those of us who are trying to get blitzed. Amaretto has about 21-28% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), so it’s not too much - but don’t worry, the cognac makes up for that…
…Which brings me to my next section about the second ingredient in the French Connection cocktail: cognac. What is it? What goes well with it? Why is it called that? How do you pronounce it?
All will be answered. Worry not, my child.
Well, let’s answer this first - What is cognac? Pronounced Cone-Yak, cognac is a brandy named after Cognac, France. It’s sweet, spicy, bitter, and a little fruity (depending on which cognac you’re getting).
Cognac is a delightful combination of bougie and accessible, in that most can afford it and everyone looks good drinking it. Way to break the class barrier, cognac!
Now let’s get to the mixins’.
Many out there who like cognac don’t think it should be mixed with anything, and to them I say this: Anyone who says cognac shouldn’t be mixed with other things is totally entitled to their opinion, but also I’m entitled to my own opinion in saying that they are a clown.
Cognac is fine on its own, but it can also be mixed with like 100 things, and they’re all delicious. If you’re not interested in creating the fabulous French Connection cocktail, here are some other options for you:
There are others, but these 4 are my personal favorites. Combine these with cognac in a nice whiskey glass (we have lots here) if you want to feel like a strong, hardened 1950s-era father in an armchair by the fire with a pipe.
We made it! Congrats, team! We’ve gone over the origins, flavors, and pairings of the French Connection cocktail ingredients, so now it’s time to get into the actual cocktail. You may want to get a notepad and your reading glasses, because this one is a doozy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
With me so far? Complicated, I know. Now that you have your ingredients, here’s what you need to do to make the perfect French Connection cocktail:
Done. Whew! Complex, am I right?
Okay, I’m done being sarcastic. It’s quite easy. But, you still may want to try out some of our cocktail kits to get the right stirrers, glasses, and cocktail cards to help you make any other drinks you’re in the mood for.
I certainly hope this has helped you. If anything, it helped me figure out how to pronounce ‘cognac’, so at least someone got some benefits. Overall, the French Connection cocktail is a quiet-yet-cunning cocktail that is overlooked, underappreciated, and just the right amount of flavorful. It’s great with any mildly sweet foods, or sipped on its own in a burlesque bar or somewhere dark and sensual.
So give the French Connection cocktail some love and try it out!
(Also, check out our website for other cocktail recipes, excellent products, and handy guides!)
Stay suave, gang.
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor