Perfect for toasting brides – past, present, and future
Wedding season is here. So you need a drink, right?
Fortunately, we have just the thing. The White Lady has a crisp, lively flavor that’s perfect for warm weather. It features a hint of sweetness, but not too much.
So it will whet your appetite for that overpriced reception dinner. And help you endure Uncle Harry. That’s our kind of white wedding.
Recipe: The White Lady Cocktail
The White Lady combines gin, Cointeau, and fresh lemon juice. It’s kinda sorta like a gin Sidecar (which uses brandy as its spirit).
Many bartenders include egg white when they mix a White Lady. The egg white doesn’t add flavor, though it does give the drink more volume and a fuller body. But it’s totally optional.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 1½ ounces dry gin
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg white (optional; see Notes)
- garnish of lemon twist (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake hard for 20 to 30 seconds until the shaker is nicely frosted.
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired, and serve.
- This drink is most commonly served in a cocktail glass, but it also looks great in a champagne saucer (particularly when it includes egg white).
- When mixing any drink that contains egg white, you might want to start by putting the egg white in the shaker by itself, without ice. Shaking sans ice helps develop frothiness. Shake the egg white for 30 seconds, then add ice and proceed with Step 1.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So you may want to consider using pasteurized eggs. Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk?
- You can also use dried egg white powder. Supermarkets usually stock this in the baking aisle. As long as you thoroughly dissolve the powder in warm water before using, it works well in cocktails.
- BTW, when we mix this drink with egg white, we use only one white, whether we’re mixing one drink or two.
- When a cocktail recipe specifies gin, it’s usually understood to mean dry gin. “London” dry gin is the most common style (it originally was distilled in London), but there are other styles of dry gin that are fairly similar (Plymouth gin, for example). Don’t stress about whether a particular gin is London dry. Just buy a decent dry gin with a name label.
- The White Lady Cocktail goes by many different names. You may see it called the Delilah, the Chelsea Sidecar, the Kiernander, the Janikedvence, or Lillian Forever. Same drink, different aliases.
- You may also find other drinks called the “White Lady” with ingredients and recipes that differ markedly from this one. But that’s typical for the world of cocktails, where confusion reigns.
- The version of the White Lady that we feature here derives from a drink that most likely was created by Harry MacElhone, who earned his chops at the Plaza Hotel in New York, and later founded Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. MacElhone is credited with creating several other famous drinks, including the Sidecar, the Monkey Gland, the Bloody Mary, and the French 75.
- Some cocktail historians say that MacElhone first mixed the White Lady in 1919, when he worked at Ciro’s Club in London. Originally, he used crème de menthe (which sounds awful in this drink). He later came to his senses, and replaced that with gin when he served it at Harry’s New York Bar. He also served a brandy version of the drink at one point.
- Other cocktail aficionados insist that the White Lady was invented by Harry Craddock at The Savoy Hotel in London. Maybe. But most people today credit the drink to MacElhone.
- Wherever and whenever it was created, it was a very popular drink between the world wars. It’s said to have been a favorite of comedians Laurel and Hardy.
- Dorothy L. Sayers’s famous sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey drinks a White Lady in her mystery novel Have His Carcase.
- In John le Carré's The Looking Glass War, spy Fred Leiser favors the White Lady as his tipple of choice.
- Programming Note: Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, it’s time to start our annual Summer Sippin’ and Snarfin’ Series. What’s that, you ask? Well, during most of the year, we publish one cocktail recipe a month (on the first Wednesday). But when summer rolls around, we tend to up our drinks quotient – because we all get thirsty in warm weather, right? So expect to see lots more cocktail recipes through Labor Day, along with summer-appropriate food dishes. We may even post back-to-back cocktails. Skoal.
My Big Fat Geek Wedding
“Swell drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This sure would help me endure a wedding reception.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Big weddings just don’t appeal to geeky folk like ourselves.”
“Which is why we got married by a judge,” said Mrs K R. “All those years ago.”
“We wanted something quiet,” I said. “With no fuss.”
“It would have worked too,” said Mrs K R. “If not for that municipal firefighters’ strike.”
“Ah, yes,” I said. “We didn’t realize they were expecting a ruling ordering them back to work on the very day our ceremony was scheduled at city hall.”
“So there we were. Just the two of us – and 100 protesting firemen,” said Mrs K R. “So much for quiet.”
“They were quite a sight in their fire hats and boots,” I said.
“I particularly liked the huge fire axes some of them were carrying,” said Mrs K R. “That was a surreal touch.”
“But we finally made it through the throng and got to the judge’s chambers,” I said.
“And we thought he was sitting behind his desk when we walked in,” said Mrs K R.
“Until he walked around, and we realized he had been standing,” I said. “He must have been the world’s shortest judge.”
“Yes, we were married by a munchkin,” said Mrs K R. “But we managed to keep our composure.”
“By not looking each other in the eye until we stepped outside,” I said.
“At which point we collapsed into giggles,” said Mrs K R.
“You have to admit, it was a fitting start to married life for the likes of us,” I said.
“Indeed,” said Mrs K R. “Looking back now, I realize it set the perfect tone. Sort of a cross between ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Wizard of Oz.’”
“That memory deserves a toast,” I said, raising my glass. “To my bride, always and forever.”
“To my dear husband,” said Mrs K R, clinking her glass with mine. “Not to mention firefighters and short judges everywhere.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Bridal Cocktail
The Monkey Gland
The Bloody Mary
The French 75
Or check out the index for more