French 75 Gallery and Lounge is located in downtown Aurora. A place taking elements of 1920s Paris, France, showcasing beautiful art and hand-crafted cocktails. Our local cocktail lounge has specialty drinks inspired by the art hanging on the wall to custom-cut ice blocks to keep your drink cold and fresh tasting.
Joey Thurman: If you could step back in time to the 1920s in Paris, France, in a gallery and fuse that with a bar, you would have French 75 in downtown Aurora. Joey Thurman: I feel like I'm stepping back in time. Paris, I hope? Hope Ashworth: Yes. That's the vibe. Joey Thurman: That's the vibe. We're at French 75. And why open a place like this? Hope Ashworth: Why not? It's just people need art. They need camaraderie. They need to slow down and I'm hoping to provide a bit of that. People seem to just feel at home in here and that's a big compliment to me. Joey Thurman: It does have that at home vibe and even going into the bathroom, it feels nice and comfortable and not your typical bar feeling. Is that what you're going for? Hope Ashworth: It was an art gallery first, but I like to combine ideas. And being on this location next to the Paramount and these other beautiful buildings, I wanted to offer something more, and hence the craft cocktail. Big part of the inspiration is I love to go into art galleries. Sometimes there's just a cold feeling in the art galleries that you don't have a chance to take in the art. You're always on your feet. There's no place to really sit down. And I like the idea of ... Because we have some incredible artists here. Daniel Mundy, David Hedinger, Sally Yost. My work is here as well. Hope Ashworth: It's a chance for people to sit down, have a cocktail, relax, and really bond with the artwork. My son, Braden, who was brilliant in that craft, once I found the space and got excited about the space and ready to open another art gallery ... This isn't my first art gallery. I had one in California. Then he was on board and so here we are. We just started rocking and rolling straight out of the gate. Joey Thurman: Drinking on the job. That's okay? Braden Smith: Yes. It's encouraged when you come in to have a drink here. Joey Thurman: Now you guys have this interesting concept where drinks also correlate to the artwork. Can you tell me about that? Braden Smith: Yeah, so we have, I think five artists hanging here in the moment and we ask each one of them what they like to drink and we built a cocktail based on their personal preference. So this one that you're drinking is called Mundy's mood. It's for Daniel Mundy. He lives in Mexico now and he's a bourbon drinker. So we've built a Manhattan style drink on a hand chipped piece of ice. Has a little bit of a variation on a traditional Manhattan, so it's original cocktail for him. And each of our artists has a cocktail that's built in a similar way. Braden Smith: Yeah, so a Mundy's mood is specifically for two paintings that we have on the wall that are called Sundown and Sunset Over The Marsh. And it's really dark colors in the painting. And that's what I was going for in the drink. And that worked out perfectly because he's a bourbon drinker, so that color scheme ties in. The Waiting Game is for the painting on the back bar here, which is one of my mother's. The painting's called Waiting. And I went for all of her favorite ingredients. It's a Vesper martini with elderflower liqueur and an absent wash on the glass, which are pretty much my mother's four favorite things to drink. Braden Smith: And then the third one I made was called Hender's Empress. It uses a beautiful purple gin called Empress, which is this one here. It's a nice violet color. And his artwork is really colorful. So there's a painting up front called Forever And Ever that has purple and green. And I thought doing some rosemary gin and tonic, would correspond that painting specifically color-wise, and it also is really refreshing and delicious. People come back because it's comfortable and they like engaging with us and they like being in a place where they can visit with one another. Braden Smith: There's no TVs. They're around excellent exceptional artwork. And the cocktail menu execution is a bonus on top of all that. It's really an excellent cocktail program that I'm really proud of. But having that excellence in a space that feels really comfortable and is classy, but not stuffy, is the goal, and I think the coolest thing about how our guests feel when they come in. Joey Thurman: Love it, man. Braden Smith: Yeah. Joey Thurman: French 75. Cheers. He's on the job. I can drink. I'm on the job too.