The signature drink of an iconic NYC nightclub
The Stork Club delivered. Founded in 1929, it gave New Yorkers a classy place to eat and imbibe – away from the prying eyes of Prohibition enforcers.
And its namesake drink made the cloak-and-dagger worth it. A smooth combo of gin, Cointreau, and citrus juice, the Stork Club Cocktail offers the perfect start to your night on the town. No password needed.
Recipe: The Stork Club Cocktail
Gin has always been a popular cocktail ingredient, but during Prohibition it became the spirit of choice (or at least convenience). That’s because gin, unlike bourbon or rye, doesn’t require aging. So a bootlegger could produce a batch one day, and sell it to a barkeep the next.
The Stork Club Cocktail originally was made with Old Tom gin, a sweetened gin that’s not seen much these days (though it still has a place; we used it to make The Martinez Cocktail). We think Old Tom makes the Stork Club Cocktail too sweet, so we substitute dry gin instead. (Old Tom also isn’t easy to find – almost every gin you’ll see in a liquor store is dry.)
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 1½ ounces dry gin (but see headnote)
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (you may prefer ¾ ounce; see Notes)
- ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- orange twist for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well-chilled (about 20 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Add an orange twist for garnish, if desired, and serve.
- We like to use a full ounce of orange juice in this drink. But if that makes it too sweet for you, try ¾ ounce.
- Some recipes substitute Grand Marnier for Cointreau, which also makes the drink slightly less sweet. But a triple sec like Cointreau was the original ingredient.
- Fresh-squeezed OJ makes the best-tasting drink, though in a pinch you can use bottled.
- But there is no substitute for fresh-squeezed lime juice.
- The Stork Club was founded in 1929 by Sherman Billingsley, a bootlegger from Oklahoma. Billingsley had previously resided in Leavenworth prison for a time.
- The original Stork Club was located on West 58th Street in Manhattan. After it was raided by Prohibition agents in 1931, Billingsley moved it to East 51st Street. In 1934 the club moved again, to 3 East 53rd Street (just off 5th Avenue), where it remained until it closed in 1965. The building that housed The Stork Club no longer exists. 3 East 53rd is now home to Paley Park, a small public space in Manhattan.
- From the beginning, celebrities flocked (so to speak) to The Stork Club. Ernest Hemingway drank there (but of course Hemingway drank everywhere). Other luminaries included Damon Runyon, H.L. Mencken, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Walter Winchell. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John F. Kennedy, and J. Edgar Hoover also showed their faces.
- The Stork Club was a place where people went to be seen. But the food and drink were pretty good, which helped ensure that it remained popular.
- The club had one of the best bar scenes in New York at that time, with many popular drinks being devised by its head bartender, Nathanial “Cookie” Cook. But the namesake Stork Club Cocktail was actually invented by Eddie Whittmer, a captain of the waitstaff.
Welcome to the Club
“So Sherman Billingsley’s club made quite a splash back in the day,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Yup, it attracted all the big names,” I said. “Not to mention the mob, which invested in The Stork Club through a front man.”
“At one point, Billingsley was even kidnapped by a rival mobster named Mad Dog Coll,” said Mrs K R.
“And his nephew Glenn Billingsley later married a girl named Barbara,” I said. “She was an actress who played the perfect suburban mother on Leave it to Beaver.”
“I’m trying to imagine Ward and June Cleaver as bootleggers,” said Mrs K R.
“Eddie Haskell would have made a great bagman,” I said.
And Ward would finally have had a real job.
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