The sunny, citrus flavor makes this a perfect pre-dinner drink for summer
On hot summer days, drinks like the Cuba Libre, the Gin Rickey, the Mojito, and the Gin and Tonic rule. They’re just right for lazy, hot hours by the pool or at the beach — where you want a nice, slow sipper that cools you down and takes a while to finish.
But when the sun goes down, most of us want something less voluminous — but still with bracing and refreshing flavor. We could try old favorites like the Martini or the Manhattan Cocktail, of course, but they seem way too heavy for a warm-weather drink. How about something lighter, preferably with a sunny citrus flavor?
Something like the Maiden’s Prayer. This delightful combination of dry gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and orange juice delivers an authoritative flavor that sharpens your appetite for dinner, but isn’t too boozy for hot summer nights.
And it’s a drink most of your friends probably haven’t heard of. So when you serve it, they’ll admire your vast knowledge of cocktails (and your good taste in drinks). Go ahead and take a bow – you deserve it for introducing them to a top-flight tipple.
Recipe: The Maiden's Prayer Cocktail
The Maiden’s Prayer is essentially a gin sour, with Cointreau replacing the simple syrup or sugar that’s found in most sours (such as the Whiskey Sour). This drink also replaces some of the lemon juice with orange juice, making it just a touch sweeter than other sours, while adding a nice note of complexity.
Speaking of which: Getting the correct balance of sweetness in a drink that contains lemon juice is always a bit of a juggling act. I’ve tried various permutations of this cocktail, and I prefer the formula that David Wondrich suggests. But in the Notes, I offer some different ratios that you might want to experiment with.
This recipe takes several minutes to make, and serves one.
- 1½ ounces gin (see Notes)
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (you can substitute refrigerated not-from-concentrate, but the drink won’t taste as fresh)
- lemon or orange slice, wheel, or twist for garnish (optional; see Notes)
- Add the gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and orange juice to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice.
- Shake until well chilled – 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s already chilled).
- Garnish with a lemon or orange slice or twist if you like, and serve.
- Any brand of good “London dry” gin should work in this drink. (Most of the gin you see in liquor stores is the London dry variety. So if you stick to labels you know, that’s what you’ll probably be buying.) I like Beefeater and Plymouth gin a lot in this cocktail, but other brands work too
- IMO there’s no substitute for Cointreau, which is a type of orange-flavored liqueur called a triple sec. You can try substitutes (they’ll be called “triple sec”), but I’ve found that anything under $20 tends to be a bit nasty tasting.
- When it comes to OJ, freshly squeezed always tastes a lot better in cocktails.
- Same with lemon juice. In fact, don’t even think of using bottled lemon juice in cocktails. You won’t be happy with the result.
- A lemon twist or wheel is probably the most common garnish for this drink, but an orange twist or slice is nice, too.
- I’ve seen a recipe for this drink that specifies an ounce and a half each of gin and Cointreau, and ½ ounce each of lemon juice and orange juice. That ratio doesn’t work for my taste.
- Gary Regan likes an ounce each of gin and Cointreau in this drink, along with ½ ounce each of lemon juice and orange juice. Not a bad ratio, but I still prefer the one I present above.
- Regan also suggests adding a dash or two of Angostura bitters (to taste). I usually like bitters in cocktails, and often add them even when they’re not traditional (which they aren’t in this drink). But in this case, the Angostura bitters don’t work for me.
- I’ve also seen recipes that call for orange bitters. Again, they just don’t suit my taste in this drink.
More About the Maiden’s Prayer
“Refreshing drink!” exclaimed Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she took her first sip.
“It is,” I agreed. “Perfect for summer.”
“So,” asked Mrs K R, “any special history about this cocktail? With a name like Maiden’s Prayer, there must be.”
“Well, as with so many drinks, the origins are a bit murky,” I replied. “The name probably comes from a piano piece originally titled ‘La prière d'une vierge,’ by the Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska, published in 1856.”
“Sounds a bit sappy,” said Mrs K R.
“Yeah, a lot of people consider it overly sentimental,” I agreed. “But anyway, John Stowell Adams wrote some lyrics in English to accompany the tune and called it the ‘Maiden’s Prayer.’ It was a song – and a title – that was pretty familiar to people in the late 19th century. The tune eventually became a pretty well-known country song.”
“So where’s the drink part of this?” asked Mrs K R.
“Well, the drink itself was created sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century,” I said. “David Wondrich found a printed version of the recipe that goes back to 1907.”
“But what does it have to do with the song?” she asked.
“Well, the drink came to be considered a sure-fire seduction potion,” I said. “You know, something that gentlemen — if we can call them that — would offer young ladies in order to, um, lower their resistance.”
“And the ladies had to appeal to a higher power to withstand the onslaught?” asked Mrs K R.
“Something like that,” I said.
“Well, this is a very smooth drink without much boozy flavor,” she observed. “I can imagine someone having an extra round or two, without realizing how much they were actually drinking.”
Mrs K R drained her glass, and looked at it pointedly. “Aren’t you going to ply me with — I mean offer me! — another?”
Well, as C. H. Spurgeon said, “Prayer can never be in excess.”
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Well I know I'd never heard of it but it sounds awesome. Course I'm a sucker for gin. Heh.
Hi Bob, it's a great drink! Well worth experimenting with. Thanks for the comment.
Never heard of this one but I think I would love it because of the nice citrus flavours! I could use a cocktail right about now :P
Sounds wonderful. This is one I am going to try....today!~
Hi Natalie, it really has a delish flavor! Very refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Leslie, I hope you'll enjoy it - we certainly did! Thanks for the comment.
refreshing sip...burst of citrus,awesome :-)
Never heard of this! Where do you find these drinks! We are not keen on gin, but are willing to give it a try, especially with citrus.
Hi Kumar, it really does have a nice burst of citrus! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, I read a lot of old cocktail books to find interesting drinks! You will taste the gin a bit in this drink, so if gin's not your thing, you might not like it (the flavor of it is very much an undertone, however). But the citrus flavor is so nice! Thanks for the comment.
John, you really have a taste for a terrific cocktail! This looks so cool, refreshing and perfectly citrusy. Slide one over this way!
Hi Georgia, I'd love to slide one over! It's really so tasty and refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
Your drinks always look so refreshing and delicious...especially the gin ones!
We will try this one on the weekend.
Sounds like a great change from a standard gin and tonic. I'll say a prayer while imbibing! And now it will be tiki month! I'm so ready!!!!!
Do you really have those conversations? Because I'm a bit jealous...mine would more typically involve a dog waiting underfoot hoping I would spill a drop of something so she's crying or a daughter who can't seem to find any adjectives beyond good or tasty. :)
I had not heard of this cocktail but now dying to give it a try; thanks John.
Hi Randi, it's a really pleasant, drink, particularly when it's hot outside. Enjoy! And thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, yup, Tiki Month starts Sunday! I'm psyched. And I'm psyched about the Maiden's Prayer, too - wonderful drink. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, this is a pretty obscure cocktail, so I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it. I only know it because I read a lot! And we actually have pretty similar conversations. The tone of them is totally accurate (though we tend to take turns making fun of each other). I actually write them, but Mrs K R edits every post (I'm a pretty good writer, but she's even better, so it works out well) and sometimes makes some pretty fun changes to the endings. So we're conversing on paper. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Very interesting conversations you have. :) I love all the history you give us. Good lookin' drink.
Hi Debra, those conversations are fun! As is the history of this drink. Thanks for the comment.
I love citrusy cocktails in summer. Just hits the spot. The name of this drink is so intriguing. Do you know the story behind it?
Lol, I live the name an the gorgeous orange color! What a treat! I can't wait to try this one :)
Hi Carolyn, no one knows the exact story, although I mention some history in the last section. And citrus is so refreshing in summer! I love it too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gourmet Getaways, it's a terrific drink! Enjoy. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Never heard of the Maiden's Prayer Cocktail , now I will find an excuse to invite guests this weekend and thanks John , I will take a bow .
John , I'm getting to be an awesome cocktail maker in this part of the woods ... thanks to you :) .
Hi Nee, always happy to help your reputation among your friends! ;-) This is a good one - they'll like it. Thanks for the comment.
Never heard of this cocktail before -- but it looks so so delish!
Very nice John, love the name!!
Haha...I knew there had to be a good story behind the name of this cocktail. Thanks for the recipe :)
I am just picturing myself with one of these on a beach right now...if only it were true!!!
We always have a bottle of Cointreau in the house, which we drink straight out of a shot glass. Now I'll have to get out of my rut and expand my cocktail repertoire! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Kiran, it's not that well known of a drink, although it's so delish it deserves to be! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, fun name, great cocktail! What more could you ask for? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, there are so many great stories about cocktails! To me that's most of the fun of them. Well, the drinking is fun too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, this is such a great cocktail for summer - very refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Fran, Cointreau is excellent on its own (I like it after dinner), but it's such a great mixer in cocktail. And this is a good one. Thanks for the comment.
I've never heard of this drink but I have to try it just for the name alone. Gorgeous!
Hi Maureen, the name is pretty interesting, I agree! And a great looking (and tasting!) cocktail. Thanks for the comment.
I just love your conversations with Mrs KR! Such a great story behind this cocktail. I can think of no better summer cocktail than one that features freshly squeezed citrus! John...your photography is soooo beautiful! Honestly, I find cocktails to be one of the most difficult things for me to photograph. That opening shot...is it on a mirror? Beautiful reflection of the stem of the glass! I am finally getting a bit of time to unwind this weekend....and I think this cocktail will certainly help me along! : )
This looks beautiful and refreshing. I love your images! It has an engaging name to be sure. I buy gin in that blue bottle - I just think it looks so pretty (can't remember the name of it!) xx
Oh my, it's unbelievable that you are doing this on your own. I can't wait to try one
Hi Anne, those conversations are a lot of fun to write! Glad you like the photos! That opening shot is on black acrylic. The photograph is backlit, so the black acrylic is reflecting light towards the camera lens - and looks like it is much lighter than it is (you're actually seeing a reflection of the light itself). (I can make the surface black by reducing the exposure, but then the cocktail glass wouldn't be properly lit; or by changing the angle of the light.) You can do the same thing with a mirror, but sometimes you get double reflections (because the camera will see the reflection on top of the glass, and on the silvered surface that's slightly beneath the glass - that serves as the reflector that most of us see when we look in a mirror). Black acrylic is easier to use except it collects dust like crazy so you are always cleaning it. Anyway, thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Hi Charlie, I'm not sure which gin is sold in a blue bottle - I'll have to look! As long as it's not the really cheap stuff (which can be unpleasant), any decent gin works. Thanks for the comment.
Hi cquek, it's a great cocktail - hope you have a chance to enjoy one! Thanks for the comment.
This drink is such a pretty color and I bet the flavor is just as bright. Perfect for summer! I think I will try it with vodka.
Hi Laura, you'll miss a bit of flavor with vodka, but just a bit - that should work well. Enjoy! And thanks for the comment.
I'm the first to admit, I've never heard of this cocktail before, but the name only sounds intriguing! I think it'd be a success at any dinner/cocktail party!
Hi Gourmantine, it's a fairly obscure cocktail, but a good one. And one I think most people would like. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Another great post and cocktail John, and the "More..." section has me smiling. :) But it does leave me wondering what exactly was the Maiden's prayer? I do like the simplicity of this cocktail as well as the citrus. What is it about orange and cocktails? It adds so much to a drink. Thanks for sharing!
Hi MJ, I think the suggestion behind the name is if you slip someone one or two of these, and have nefarious intentions, the only chance the victim has of escaping is having a prayer answered. Today the name sounds pretty lame, but I bet 100 years ago it made more sense. Anyway it's a great drink - well worth trying.
I do hope you're saving all these photos and recipes for a book someday. This photo is so beautiful, it makes me sick that I haven't a clue how to photograph something like this.
I've never heard of this drink before but it sounds so refreshing. I may have to give it a shot.
Hi Vicki, never fear, I always keep everything! Although I doubt if I'd ever be motivated to do a book. I used to work in publishing, and book publishing is a good business for those that work in it. For most (not all) of the authors? Not so much. It really is a fun drink - worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
What a beautiful name for a beautiful cocktail. I would definitely be using Cointreau and fresh juice too. There are no substitutes for them.
I don't about you but I can finish a Mojito pretty quickly! ;) Please don't judge me. And this cocktail sounds right up my alley. Sounds super refreshing! Thanks for the recipe John!
Love the very intriguing name of this cocktail, John. Also love your beautiful photos, it's a sunshiny happy cocktail.
I can see myself sipping the Maidens Prayer during a winter lunch. Here our days are still sunny and tops of 25'c. Our citrus season is slowly closing as we come into spring. Nice one.
I love the name and colcor of that cocktail! Wonderful.
Ha! Great quote. I never fail to be educated and amused when I read your blog.
And reading your last comment, I was interested to see that you used to work in publishing. I'm one of those authors to whom you referred. It's pretty tough to make any money, but it's still a job I love!
Hi Suzanne, it's really a nice change of pace drink. And I so agree you really need Cointreau and fresh juice. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, ;-) Well, maybe the first, but not the second! Never any juding here at Kitchen Riffs!And the Maiden's Prayer truly is refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nazneen, it really is a happy cocktail! Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Hi Lizzie, a winter' lunch would be nice! And 25 degrees C is in the upper 70s F, so that's close enough to summer for me! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosa, isn't the color great? And a fun name. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, being an author is awfully rewarding, and some make a terrific living at it. But most don't, unless they have a decent number of books in print. But most of the authors I've known worked in addition to write, so financially they were covered. Anyway, glad I entertain you, and thanks for the comment.
Well I'll be! I've read of the Merry Widow Cocktail (I think it's made with Vermouth) but, I've never read of The Maiden's Prayer until just this moment. Fascinating. I do wish all the history of food and drinks were contained in one huge encyclopedia in my brain. I read a lot too but I just can't remember it all, lol. Sipping on this drink may not help matters either, John. Like Anne, I can polish off quite a few Mojitos and the citrus combination in this drink is not reminding me of those orange juice mishaps of yore. So, pour another round and let me read those history tidbits just one more time:)
Love this post, John. Can't wait for Tiki Month!
Hi Louise, the Merry Widow was actually on my list of potential cocktails for this summer, but I decided it wasn't really a summer drink (I'd need to look it up, but as I recall it's a lot of gin with some dry vermouth, and dashes of other things - kind of a fancy martini). But I'll be doing that at some point. ;-) And I wish there was one big book with all of the food and drinks history, too! Not too much OJ in this drink, so you'll probably be safe. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I am not a gin drinker at all, John, but this may make a convert out of me. My initial disappointment when I saw gin in the ingredient list soon turned to wonder. It really has been quite some time since I last tasted gin and this cocktail is a real beauty. Love the mix of citrus juices with Cointreau, too. Besides, if I don't do something with that bottle of gin on the bar soon its seal will probably fall off. Better to at least crack it. :)
Thanks for sharing another great cocktail recipe and history with us, John. This was a great post. If I end up enjoying gin again, I'd call it miraculous.
Hi John, it's worth giving gin a try again, and this would be a perfect drink - there are a lot of flavors you're going to notice before you get to the gin. The gin is definitely there, but you might get a new appreciation for it. And if you don't? Well, you can always dump the contents in the sink! When I'm testing cocktails, I'll often do that with variations I'm not all that keen on (not because I can't stand them, but because if I'm testing a bunch of variations and finished every drink, then I'd be finished!). Thanks for the comment.
Goodness...doesn't this sound lovely? Especially after the long week we've had! I would love to sip on this. If only you could come and make it for me! Yours would turn out SO MUCH BETTER than mine. And I loved hearing about the meaning behind the name. So classic. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Monet, I'd love to come make you one, and see Lucy. ;-) But yours will turn out perfectly if you follow my instructions - promise! It's a fun drink, and I really do enjoy the history of it. Thanks for the comment.
Love the conversation between you and Mrs KR. This does look refreshing and it also has an interesting name! When we come to your blog, we can get the recipes and all the interesting facts about the drinks. Your gorgeous pictures should be used for magazine covers!
gorgeous colour and super clicks as well !!
Hi Nami, you're such a great photographer, that any photo compliment from you is really special! Thanks for that, and for taking time to comment.
Hi Sona, it's a pretty drink, isn't it? Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Ha-ha! Love the name of the drink! So creative and funny! And I'll drink anything with Cointreau.
Hi Julia, I'm with you on Cointreau! And this really is a nice drink - quite tasty, with a lovely color. Thanks for the comment.
First time I've heard of this drink and it looks refreshing for a cocktail!
Hi Peachy, it's not all that well known a cocktail, so no mystery that you haven't heard of it! But it's awfully good, and as you say, refreshing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, love this cocktail, very impressive. I always enjoyed admiring your very well taken photo, excellent and really beautiful. The one with black background, very elegant.
Hi Amelia, it's a really interesting cocktail, and tasty! Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
I love that this drink is not to sweet. Using the citrus as a natural sweetener, and provides your natural sugar is wonderful! This drink really does sound refreshing and delicious! Take care, Terra
Hi Terra, it's really a tasty drink - well worth making. And quite refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
I have never heard of this drink, but it sounds wonderful. I could see myself sipping it on a nice warm eveing.
Hi Dawn, it really is a great summer drink - extremely refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
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