This is hands down the best cocktail for the least effort – you don’t even really have to measure it, if you’re lazy, and you can build it right in the glass.
The history of this drink is hazy, as is the actual recipe. We first came across it in Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. Regan calls for Grand Marnier as the second ingredient, mentioning that he heard of the drink from the folks who produce the orange liqueur. He doesn’t say anything about amaretto, even though most other sources for this recipe insist that it’s made with the Italian nut liqueur. That doesn’t square with the name, but it does have the weight of public opinion behind it!
Many of the recipes we found said that the drink was named after the 1971 film The French Connection. Unfortunately, we’ve found no evidence that this is the case, and at least a couple references to the drink’s popularity in the 60s, before either the movie or the book it was based on existed. It is possible, though, that it was named for the actual heroin-smuggling scheme that spawned both works – and if that’s so, perhaps the use of a French spirit and an Italian liqueur was a nod to the Corsican origin of the scheme’s masterminds.
Personally, we like it well enough with amaretto, but we love it with Grand Marnier (or any other full-bodied orange liqueur, like Caribbean shrubb). If you have both liqueurs, try it both ways and see which one you prefer.
Stir with ice and strain into an ice-filled short glass… or just build it in the glass, if it’s been one of those kinds of days. You know what we’re talking about.