As everybody knows, wine is the most popular beverage in France. 😉 However, there are several other refreshing alcoholic and non-alcoholic French drinks that are very famous.
In fact, France is one of the most versatile places when it comes to drinks. It is home to some of the best and most unique cocktails. Each of the cocktails features a unique ingredient combination and a story to accompany it, as I will detail below. The non-alcoholic drinks also stand out from anything you will find in other parts of the world.
Below are some of the best and most popular alcoholic and non-alcoholic French drinks.
15 of the most popular French drinks
1. Café Au Lait
This is one of the most popular drinks in France. It is basically the French version of coffee and warm milk. Café Au Lait is made with brewed coffee using the French press.
The perfect Café au Lait features an equal amount of coffee and milk, and does not have any foam on top like another common drink called caffe latte. Café Au Lait is common in most French households and offices, and it is one of the most ordered drinks in coffee shops in France.
It is an ideal drink in the morning. However, coffee enthusiasts also enjoy a cup of café Au Lait in the afternoon, when hanging out with friends, or when watching French series on Netflix. 😉
The name Champagne comes from the French region called Champagne. This speaks to the fact that Champagne has its origins in France, and it is one of the most popular drinks in the country.
Champagne is produced using a method known unofficially as the Champenoise technique. The method includes secondary fermentation of the drink’s bottle by adding yeast and rock sugar to it. The drink is made using traditional blends of chardonnay, pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier.
Champagne is commonly taken during celebrations and special occasions but it is also a good drink for relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and loved ones. In the French culture, special events are often celebrated with a glass of Champagne.
Cognac is a classic French brandy distilled from grapes to produce eau-de-vie. The product is often aged and blended to create the Cognac, and it is also made from distilling old wine.
It is worth noting that the drink is named after the commune of Cognac, located in France. The drink is also produced in the Charente and Charente-Maritime departments.
As a revered alcoholic spirit, Cognac features remarkable flavors achieved from the ageing process. It notably features vinous flavors because of the distilled wine, and these flavors are the main reasons why Cognac is very popular among locals and tourists in France.
The Cognac bought in bottles is typically a blended product. There is no wrong way to drink Cognac as long as you enjoy it, but traditionally, in France, Cognac is served neat. However, it can still be enjoyed with ice or as part of a cocktail.
Another poplar French drink is the Pastis, a spirit traditionally consisting of a blend of herbs and spices like star anise and licorice root. However, modern versions of Pastis is made by combining a base alcohol with a commercially prepared flavoring and caramel coloring.
It typically contains less than 100g/l of sugar and about 40-45% alcohol by volume. The drink features a distinctive flavor almost similar to Sambuca, an Italian Drink, and Ouzu, a drink common in Greece. It is typically drunk as an appetizer before a meal.
It is commonly served on the rocks, and it is diluted with water. When it is served with ice, the ice interacts with water and oils in the drink, making it anise and cloudy or a distinctive milkiness.
Pastis is common in the South Eastern region of France, Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur, particularly in the city of Marseille. It is sometimes served after meals as a digestif, but can also be appreciated paired with meals like cheese and fish.
5. Vin Chaud
Vin Chaud is a seasonal drink taken during the winter holidays. It is particularly popular at Christmas markets, and some people even refer to it as “Christmas in a glass“.
Vin Chaud is a mulled wine, often hot, and comes in red and white. The two versions are not so different from each other, but red is harsher than white Vin Chaud. White is also a tad sweeter than its counterpart.
The drink features flavors of citrus and specialty herbs like star anise and cinnamon. Vin Chaud is a delicious, easy, and authentic French drink that is quickly making its way into international homes.
Mimosa is a cocktail consisting of Champagne and chilled citrus juice, mostly orange juice. It can also comprise of any other sparkling wine depending on your taste and preference.
For the best mimosa, make sure the Champagne does not overpower the orange or citrus juice of your choice. This is especially important if the Champagne is extra dry.
Traditionally, mimosa is served inside a tall champagne flute and is a popular drink at weddings. It is also commonly served on airplanes and railways to first-class and business class passengers.
Mimosa is one of the best cocktails to accompany a brunch recipe or to have during a relaxing day at the beach. In France, Mimosa is taken at lunch alongside meals like French toast, home fries, or sausages.
7. French Connection
French Connection is a classic French cocktail made using only two ingredients: equal parts of Cognac and Amaretto. The cocktail is straightforward to prepare since all you have to do is pour the components inside an old-fashioned glass packed with ice cubes.
After mixing the ingredients, the concoction has to be stirred gently before it is served. The French Connection is popular in France because the Cognac warms up the chilled drink while the flavor pairs incredibly with high-quality Amaretto liqueur.
Its flavor is unique and incredible. Since it is an alcoholic drink, it is best served in the evening… to adults.
Boulevardier, sometimes referred to as Negroni’s long-lost autumnal cousin is a mixed drink, made using a combination of bourbon or rye whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
The three ingredients are mixed with ice before they are strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Boulevardier was the signature cocktail drink of Erskine Gwynne, editor of The Boulevardier, a monthly magazine in Paris, hence its name.
It became popular in France when it was included in Barflies and Cocktails, a book by Harry MacElhone released in 1927. In France, the drink is often garnished with a twist of cherry or an orange peel.
Like any other cocktail, the recipe for Boulevardier varies. Regardless, the three main ingredients remain the same in each recipe.
Ciroc is a refreshing vodka drink prepared using distilled grapes and vanilla flavors. The name Ciroc is a portmanteau of the French words, “cime” (summit) and “roche” (rock).
Ciroc features a sweet taste of grapes and an aromatic vanilla flavor. Combining these two flavors makes it an incredible drink and is the reason behind its popularity in France. It also features a distinctly fruity taste from the fine French grapes that are used to create it.
Most of the time, Ciroc is served straight up. However, it can also be served with lemonade, often in an extra-tall highball glass.
10. French 75
Also known as the 75 cocktail or Soixante Quinze, this is one of the most sought-after French drinks in existence. It is a cocktail made up of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and Champagne.
French 75 was introduced to France during the First World War. Its early form was created at the New York Bar in Paris. The drink became so popular that people started comparing it to a French 75 mm field gun. This was the origin of the drink’s name.
The French 75 features a strong taste of gin coupled with a sour flavor of lemon juice, and the Champagne gives it an incredibly refreshing flavor.
11. Citron Pressé
This is a famous non-alcoholic drink in France, made using fresh lemon juice with ice cubes, water, and a bit of sweetener. Depending on how you make it and the ingredients’ quantity, the drink can be exceptionally sweet or sour.
Most bars in France do not serve the complete drink. They serve the components separately to blend them as they wish, depending on their taste and preference.
It is often compared with lemonade, the only difference between the two is the way it is served. It can be taken at any time of the day, or with food.
12. Between the Sheets
Between the Sheets is a famous cocktail in France made with lemon juice and equal portions of Cognac, Cointreau, and rum. The ingredients are shaken with ice before they are strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
It is believed that Between the Sheets was invented in the early 1930s in Paris’s New York Bar. However, the first version of Between the Sheets called for a tad of lemon, but caused the drink to become too sweet and strong. Over time, the recipe changed, and lemon is not a mandatory ingredient anymore.
There are also claims that the first Between the Sheets cocktail was prepared at the Berkley in 1921. A few other theories about the drink also exist. One of them is that prostitutes invented it in French brothels. Thus, it is an ideal drink for a night of relaxation and can also be taken during brunch.
Also known as the French honey drink, Chouchen is an alcoholic drink prepared by fermenting honey with water. Buckwheat honey is used to prepare this drink, and is responsible for the intense hue and distinct flavor.
Traditionally, Chouchen was prepared using honeycombs, which made it highly intoxicating. It would be so intoxicating that the person who took it would take up to three days to wake up. It would also cause an intense headache after a long sleep.
For this reason, honeycombs are no longer used, and were replaced with buckwheat honey. Chouchen features a sweet soothing taste, can be chilled without using ice, and is an excellent digestive drink. It is also worth noting that it pairs perfectly with a platter of seafood.
Kir is a cocktail made using blackcurrant liqueur combined with white wine. It is a traditional French drink consumed as an aperitif, and can also be used as a pre-dinner drink. The glass got its name from a man known as Felix Kir, who make the drink popular after World War II.
Felix Kir used the drink during the twinning movement; an event meant to promote friendships between different towns, countries, cultures, and even small and large cities. At the time, the beverage was known as Blanc-Cassis and it was made exclusively with a bit of liqueur added to Bourgogne Aligote.
Currently, it is made up of various white wines and is typically served in a flute glass. However, if it is combined with Champagne as opposed to white wine, then it is called Kir Royale. Kir can be made using a variety of recipes depending on the user’s taste. It can also be referred to as Kir Bianco, Kir Imperial, and other titles depending on the ingredients.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Earthquake. Some theories suggest that the cocktail was invented by a French painter known as Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The beverage is made using equal amounts of absinthe and Cognac. However, the ingredients are not standard in all recipes, and some recipes use gin as a third ingredient. The name “Earthquake” is derived from the fact that the drink produces some of the most powerful effects of any alcoholic beverage, which can be attributed to the alcohol combination in the cocktail.
During preparation, the mixture of liquids is shaken vigorously before being strained and served in a brandy or martini glass. The Earthquake is typically served with ice. It can also be garnished with a lime wheel or a lump of sugar, depending on the person taking it and the recipe. Side note: this is not a drink for the faint of heart.
Each of the French drinks mentioned above features a distinct taste that makes it stand out from the rest. Most of them are easy to prepare, and you may find that some recipes mentioned above differ from what you know. This is because when it comes to cocktails, you have the freedom to add and exclude any ingredient as you wish.
While most of the drinks originated in France, some of them have found their way across the globe. Did you know that France is also popular for its beers? Check out my list of the most famous French beers.
What other French drinks do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments if I have missed any of them!