The French Montana

Pen & Palate The French Montana Cocktail

Illustration: Tram Nguyen


Let’s talk baby names. I’m not pregnant, nor do I plan to be any time soon. (Can you hear that *creeaaaakkkk*? That’s my empty womb calling out to you.) I am at that age where everyone I know is either popping out babies or just about to make that leap, so the topic of what to name a child has been on the forefront of my mind lately. Every so often, I like to run an up-to-date list by Lucy, just to get a rise out of her. (Some recent candidates: DRose, Theory, and the letter “K”. All of these would work equally well for a boy or a girl!) After Lucy asks what the hell is wrong with me and voices concerns about the welfare of my hypothetical children, I usually reconsider.

My parents became U.S. citizens when I was about ten and gave me the option of legally changing my name to something more “traditionally American.” I briefly considered a few monikers, popular amongst 10-year-old girls and 90’s strippers alike (“Jade” and “Chloë”-the umlaut was crucial), but ultimately I declined, deciding that I’d already lived a decade being called Tram, changing it at that point would be too weird. By the time they’d had my little brother my parents spoke English fluently, and so they named him Jimmy. My brother, coincidentally, has a best friend also named Jimmy. His Cambodian parents did not have such a strong grasp of English when he was born, and so his legal name is “Jame.” 

Almost as tricky and important as naming a baby, is naming a drink. You can’t just name a cocktail after any old loser. The namesake must be iconic and idiosyncratic enough to lend certain qualities to the drink beyond the sum of its ingredients. Take for instance, one of my absolute favourite drinks, The Hemingway. It’s pretty uncomplicated: Rhum Agricole, Maraschino Liqueur, and fresh grapefruit and lime juices. Bright, crisp, and refreshing, just one sip and you immediately experience a kind of synesthesia. It tastes of pre-revolution Cuba, homoeroticism, and six-toed cats. When we first started the blog, I wanted Lucy to write about “The Murphy Brown,” a drink that our friend Naomi invented, which consists of that classic pairing of Diet Coke and Jack Daniels. But then Lucy delicately pointed out that Murphy Brown was a recovering alcoholic and perhaps it wasn’t the most tasteful choice for our inaugural post.

I named this cocktail after French Montana, a Moroccan rapper/producer who, admittedly, I know almost nothing about. And so I set about to do some serious, hard-hitting, internet research. Here’s what I’ve learned: He has a wonderful name, hangs out with famous strumpets such as Miley Cyrus, and according to his Wikipedia entry, “French Montana is believed to be in a relationship with Khloe Kardashian, as the pair are continuously seen together, sharing romantic actions.”

A quick Google image search gave even more insight into Monsieur Montana. He is a man of simple pleasures, preferring to don pragmatic yet stylish sweatsuit outfits almost exclusively. And he loves animals (see image above).

All of this new information raises his esteem in my eyes, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because I love his name. So wonderfully evocative, it brings to mind the sophistication and je ne sais quoi of the Gauls, along with the wild expansiveness that is the state of Montana. Manifest Destiny! Herds of bison and purple mountains majesty! Bravo French Montana, for picking such a glorious name! And now, dear readers, we have him to thank for an even more glorious cocktail.

This is a riff on the classic French 75, invented in Paris in 1915, it is traditionally made with champagne, gin, simple syrup, and fresh citrus. Legend has it that this cocktail had such a powerful kick that they named it after the French 75mm field gun. The French Montana* takes this one step further, switching out Buffalo Trace bourbon (the Montana!) in lieu of gin.

*Okay, I suppose that technically, you could call this a French 95, but that’s so much lamer, no?


Yield: 1 cocktail

1 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon
3/4 oz. simple syrup (1:1 water and sugar)
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
Dash of orange bitters

In a shaker, combine all the ingredients with ice, save for the champagne. Make sure the lid is on tightly, so as not to get French Montana all over your kitchen floor, cabinets, and person. Not that you would do that. That would be ridiculous and amateur hour and possibly, very mortifying if you call yourself a food blogger. Then, shake it off, shake it off! Now pour your French Montana in a champagne flute, top with champagne, put on a sweatsuit, and cuddle up with some endangered baby tiger cubs by the fire.

5 Comments Write a comment

  1. What a great way to begin my week – with the big grin that I can’t control when reading your posts. I love a good French 75, a gin more than bourbon girl myself. But you’ve piqued my interest in a Hemmingway – “It tastes of pre-revolution Cuba, homoeroticism, and six-toed cats.” – who can resist that?

  2. Gorgeous artwork and riveting prose, as always. I hear Beyonce’ is a popular name now. I feel like in 15 years my kid wouldn’t appreciate that very much. I secretly (though not anymore) want to name my kid “Everybody” just for the havoc at school:
    “Everybody, be quiet.”
    “Just Everybody. Not everybody.”

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