20 French Drinks And Cocktails

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France is a country that’s known around the world for its cuisine, café-lined boulevards and impeccable natural scenery that has inspired artists, thinkers and writers for centuries. French wines and liqueurs are world-renowned, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France’s drinks and beverage scene.

Drinks such as Pastis, Cointreau and Picon Bière prove that there’s more than just wine and Champagne to keep you hydrated in this delightful nation. Enjoy the German-influenced beverages of northern France, the elegant cocktails of southern France, or the many wine-inspired cocktails and liqueurs which take the best Bordeaux and Burgundy artisanal wines and give them a unique twist like only the French could. So pack your bags, grab your beret, and say bonjour to these French drinks and cocktails.

French Drinks

French Liqueurs

1- Kirsch

foods and drinks in french
Kirsche is a cherry liqueur and a popular French alcoholic drink.

Kirsch is a delectable eau-de-vie that’s quite popular in France’s northern Alsace region.

Made from fermented black Morello cherries, this Germanic-inspired liqueur is notoriously potent, with an alcohol by volume percentage that can get as high as 57%.

Traditional Kirsch, or Kirschwasser as Germans call it, is produced in Alsace, in Germany’s Black Forest across the Rhine, and in certain German-speaking Swiss cantons.

Made the traditional way by mashing the cherries to a pulp in a wooden vat, Kirsch is unlike any other French liqueur or alcoholic beverage you’ll come across in France.

2- Pastis

pastis french drinks
One of the French alcoholic drinks you may want to try is pastis.

Pastis is one of France’s most popular aperitifs, especially in the country’s south-eastern regions near Marseille, where the drink originated.

Made up of spices such as anise, cinnamon, pepper, liquorice, and various other herbs, the drink’s name comes from the French word pastisson, which translates to ‘mixture’ in English.

First created 17 years after France’s ban on Absinthe and sold commercially by Paul Ricard in 1932, Pastis remains a popular drink in France and a mainstay in many of the country’s most popular dishes.

While there’s no standard way of enjoying some Pastis, locals often dilute it with water or enjoy the drink with ice, however, feel free to experiment with it to find the best combination that works for you.

3- Cognac

french drinks alcoholic
Cognac is one of the fine French drinks to try in France.

Cognac is France’s traditional brandy and perhaps the country’s best-known liqueur variety worldwide.

Named after the Cognac commune in France’s south, this drink is made by distilling grapes into eau-de-vie before ageing the mixture.

For Cognac to be considered authentic French Cognac, the liqueur must be prepared in copper pots, aged in French oak barrels for two years and produced solely in the Cognac AOC region.

A drink that was widely enjoyed by British nobility throughout the centuries, you don’t have to be royalty to get your hands on some excellent French Cognac today, as the drink is exported and sold in most countries worldwide.

4- Picon Bière

Combining beer with Picon, an authentic French bitter alcohol made from orange zest, Picon Bière is a uniquely French liqueur that’s quite popular among those living in France’s northeast.

Slightly underappreciated and relatively unknown outside of the northeast, Picon Bière is France’s take on the very popular and timeless classic beer shandy.

Best enjoyed over ice with a hint of orange peel for garnish, Picon Bière is refreshing, delicious and 100% French.

5- Cointreau

popular french drinks
Cointreau is a French liqueur that is a popular ingredient for various French cocktails.

Triple distilled with a distinct taste of orange, Cointreau is a mainstay on any French drinks list and is one of the country’s best-selling liqueurs internationally and domestically.

Invented in 1875 in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, a commune in France’s rural west known for its liqueurs, Cointreau can serve as an aperitif or a digestif.

Cointreau’s unique flavour has made it a popular choice for cocktails, with popular cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan, the Mimosa, the Sidecar and the Margharita all using Cointreau as an ingredient.

With such a storied legacy as one of France’s best liqueurs and its use as a mixer in some of the world’s most beloved cocktails, you just can’t miss out on drinking some Cointreau while in France.

6- Absinthe

traditional french drinks
Absinthe is a popular drink in France.

While the Swiss may have originally created Absinthe in Switzerland, it’s in France where this simple yet potent alcoholic spirit liqueur first became popular.

Made from fennel, wormwood, anise and various other medicinal herbs and spices, Absinthe arrived in France via Switzerland sometime during the 19th century.

Due to its high alcoholic content and extremely potent taste, Absinthe was banned in France, Europe and the United States for over 100 years before being legalised in 1990 after the European Union introduced new food and beverage legislation.

While it’s not a drink for the faint-hearted, Absinthe is certainly right up there as one of France’s best and most popular liqueurs.

7- Pineau

Pineau Des Charentes, or just Pineau as most call it, is a French fortified wine produced from fermented grapes and Cognac.

Pineau originated in the French region of Charente sometime during the late 16th century when, according to legend, a local winemaker poured wine into a barrel of Cognac that was thought to be empty, thus creating the first batch of Pineau.

Whether or not that’s how the drink started remains a mystery, however, the liqueur’s popularity in Charente and across France remains unquestionable.

Commonly served as an aperitif, Pineau can also be enjoyed alongside dinner or dessert or as a mixer in a cocktail, making it a versatile French liqueur that’s well worth trying out.

8- Crème de Cassis

french soft drinks in wineglass on dark blue concrete surface. European aperitif drink.
Another variation is a banana flavoured liqueur, which French call creme de banana.

Produced in Dijon and the wine-dominant French region of Burgundy, Crème de Cassis is, after wine, the region’s biggest alcoholic export.

This sweet, blackcurrant-flavoured, deep purple liqueur is made by crushing freshly picked blackcurrants, drenching the pulp in alcohol, and mixing plenty of sugar into the concoction to produce this sweet and tart liqueur.

Produced in astonishing quantities annually, 16 million litres (4.2 million gallons) to be precise, Crème de Cassis is consumed in copious amounts across France and internationally.

Enjoyable at room temperature after dinner or in coffee for an extra fruity flavour, Crème de Cassis is one of France’s favourite liqueurs.

French Cocktails

french drinks non alcoholic list Collection of most popular alcoholic cocktails with sparkling wine
Champagne, Bellini, Kir Royal and French 75, take your pick of French cocktails and drinks to celebrate.

9- Kir

This famous French cocktail combines two popular French alcoholic beverages, white wine and Crème de Cassis, to create a simple yet tasty cocktail that’s the perfect before-meal aperitif.

Named after former mayor and Kir connoisseur Félix Kir, the cocktail was first known as Blanc-Cassis before locals decided to name the drink in honour of Kir, who played an instrumental role in popularising the cocktail after World War II.

Traditionally served in flute glasses in bistros, bars and restaurants across France, Kir perfectly complements the blackcurrant liqueur’s tartness with the white wine’s softness in exquisite fashion.

For a unique spin, try substituting white wine with a French Champagne to spruce the traditional Kir with a modern twist.

10- Monaco

The Monaco, contrary to what the name suggests, is not limited only to the country of Monaco and is a famous French cocktail that you can find in bars and bistros across the country.

The Monaco is not too far removed from the popular English Shandy or German Radler, made up of a 60-40 mixture of beer and lemonade, with a dollop of grenadine syrup for colouring.

However, the addition of pink grenadine syrup separates the Monaco from your typical Shandy or Radler, which gives the beer and lemonade mixture a unique sweet taste and a lovely pink colour for added flair.

Super refreshing and a low alcoholic cocktail, the Monaco is the perfect summertime drink to sip on while out and about on the French Côte d’Azur.

11- Jacqueline

Consisting of a mixture of French white wine, grenadine syrup and a hint of lemonade, the popular Jacqueline cocktail is to white wine what the Monaco is to beer.

Much like its sister cocktail, the Monaco, the Jacqueline is simple yet elegant and refreshing, not to mention an affordable option in French bars compared to other flamboyant cocktails.

The Jacqueline has a unique taste, even when compared to the near identical Monaco, making it a more palatable cocktail for those who prefer wine over beer.

12- French 75

A cocktail that’s as synonymous with Paris and France as the Eiffel Tower, the classic French 75 can trace its origins back to 1915, when a bartender from the famous New York bar, Harry’s, invented this timeless cocktail in Paris.

Commemorating the Canon de 75 modèle 1897, a French canon used during the First World War, many describe the drink as being as mighty as the canon it was named after.

While the French 75 is today prepared using Champagne, the original French 75 cocktail was made without it, with the first recorded instance of Champagne being added to the drink dating to 10 years after it was initially created.

It remains the most popular cocktail in France during holidays, weddings or brunches and is at the top of the list of French cocktails to try whenever you’re in France.

13- Ti Punch

french mixed drinks Glass of ti punch on a table on the beach.
Ti punch is one of the popular French drinks in the Caribbean.

Ti Punch, which translates to ‘small punch’ in English, is a cocktail consisting of Rhum Agricole, lime, and cane syrup that originated not on the French mainland but in the French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

While the cocktail might have originated in the Caribbean, Ti Punch is popular in every region in France, so you don’t need to fly halfway across the world to order Ti Punch.

The traditional Martinique Ti Punch guidelines, which state that the bartender must supply customers with the rum, lime, syrup, and glasses so that they can each prepare the drink by themselves, is the authentic way to enjoy a Ti Punch.

14- Vin Chaud

Vin Chaud, or ‘hot wine’ as it’s known in English, is a very popular wintertime alcoholic drink found throughout France, however, it is most popular in the country’s north.

Locals prepare Vin Chaud according to their own recipes passed down from generation to generation, however, most Vin Chaud recipes consist of a combination of red wine, cinnamon, honey and orange.

Served warm in restaurants and Christmas marketplaces across France during winter, a hot serving of Vin Chaud is the perfect cocktail to combat the chilly temperatures.

French Non-Alcoholic Drinks

french coffee drinks Cup of coffee with coffee beans on saucer and delicious macarons cakes of different color on white porcelain plate with peach colored background.
Coffee and macarons anyone? Coffee is one of the popular French drinks.

15- Perrier

Perhaps the most widely consumed non-alcoholic beverage across France, Perrier is mineral water bottled on-site at a natural spring in Vergèze, a commune in southern France.

Consumed worldwide and known for its distinctive green bottle, Perrier’s water comes straight from a spring that was once widely used as a bath during ancient Roman times.

Filtered and carbonated for a crisp taste, a bottle of Perrier is always highly refreshing.

16- Gini Lemon

Created by popular French brand Perrier in 1971, Gini Lemon is one of France’s most beloved soft drinks that’s delicious by itself or as a mixer in a cocktail.

Known for its edgy marketing that often pushes the boundaries, Gini Lemon has been nicknamed ‘La plus chaude des boissons froides’, or ‘the hottest cold drink of all time’ in English.

Gini Lemon has risen to become one of Europe’s most sought-after lemon-flavoured soft drinks, with people all across Europe loving the crisp taste of a cold Gini Lemon.

French Wines

17- Champagne

famous french drinks A professional bartender serves chilled champagne sparkling with gases in glass on the bar.
Champagne is one of the top French alcoholic drinks consumed around the world.

Champagne is one of the country’s most popular alcoholic beverages worldwide for its elegance and sophisticated taste.

Usually produced from a mixture of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, you can find sparkling wines worldwide, but not all sparkling wines are called Champagne.

Following strict regulations imposed by the European Union, authentic Champagne can only be produced in France’s Champagne region and according to specific production methods to protect Champagne’s heritage on the international scene.

Found in eastern France, the Champagne is the best place to sample some authentic French Champagne, just like the French nobility did back in the 17th century.

18- Merlot

french drinks row of vines
Red Merlot grapes in a Bordeaux vineyard. French wine is some of the best in the world.

Merlot wine is one of France’s most popular red wine varieties made from the Merlot grape variant.

Produced in regions and countries throughout the world, it’s near Bordeaux, where the heart of France’s, and indeed the world’s, Merlot industry lies.

Communes and villages in southern France’s Bordeaux region, such as the quaint town of Saint-Émilion, produce some of the world’s best and most expensive Merlot wines known for their low acidity and distinct hints of cherry and plum.

This versatile French wine you can pair with virtually any meal. A glass of French Merlot is sure to be a delight for the senses.

19- Bourgogne

how to say drinks in french
Village in the famous winemaking region of Beaujolais in France.

Grapes from France’s Bourgogne region, or Burgundy region, have produced some of the best red and white wine varieties throughout history.

Known for perfect flavour and steep price tag, Burgundy wines are some of the most exclusive wines in the world enjoyed by vinophiles worldwide.

The Bourgogne region is best known for its Chardonnay and Pinot-Noir wine variants, classified either as an AOC Grands Crus, an AOC Villages, or an AOC Régionales, depending on the wine’s quality, with AOC Grands Crus being the top Bourgogne wines.

Naturally, AOC Grands Crus wines are very sought after, however, representing just 1% of the total wine produced in the Burgundy region, you might struggle to get your hands on some.

Regardless of which Bourgogne wine you decide to try, you are surely in for a spectacular treat.

20- Provence Rosé

french foods and drinks A woman drinks wine in a lavender field. Selective focus.
Drinking French wine and having a picnic in a lavender field is a fabulous experience.

Provence’s Rosé variants always come to mind of all the wines in southern France.

Making up 82% of the total wine production in the Provence region, Provence Rosé wines perfectly complement the Mediterranean –inspired dishes found in restaurants and bistros throughout southern France.

Brought to France by the Greeks and first pressed by the Phocaeans, Provence Rosé is now synonymous with French culture and a popular wine variant on the international stage.

While most of the original Rosé vineyards were wiped out during the 19th century by the Phylloxera epidemic, it spurred winemakers to plant new variants such as Mourvèdre or Marsanne, creating a brand new selection of Provence Rosés in the process.

Crisp, slightly dry, and with a slight tint of pink, you can never go wrong with a great glass of Provence Rosé.

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.