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Saltbox

Hotel Palomar, 1047 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego

When the old folks talk about the ritual evening cocktail as “shooting the sunset gun,” they probably had the French 75 in mind.

Stroll into the Saltbox any evening at the right time and manager Ali Terrill and her team of mixers will be sure to set the charge just right on their version of the drink.

As part of the Saltbox’s “Wells Done Well” program, the French 75 is primed and ready — with an armory of other well-known classics in reserve — for less than half the price another high-end drinkery might charge.

Ali Terrill

Ali Terrill

“They’re $5 during happy hour,” says Terrill. “We’re trying to introduce that middle ground between not wanting to spend $14 on a cocktail you’re not sure you’ll like” and bland cocktails bought on the cheap.

As for the Saltbox’s French 75, Terrill says that, like the French artillery piece for which it was named, the cocktail has a bracing recoil — and an equally astonishing balance and finish.

“No one that has a French 75 says, ‘Oh, my God, there’s gin in my champagne!’” Terrill says with a laugh. “It’s definitely balanced because you have that little bit of sugar in there — so there’s a play between the sweet and sour. First they’re going to smell the citrus — the lemon on top. There’s this bright, lemony aroma. Then there’s going to be this really crisp, refreshing bubbly drink behind it.”

Kitchen Proof: The lemon and ginned-up bubbly pull all the right triggers: harmonious blend of sweet action and mellow reaction.

In a champagne flute, pour:

  • • 1 oz. Gordon’s gin
  • • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • • ½ oz. lemon juice

Top off with La Marca Prosecco, garnish with a lemon twist.

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