Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The White Lady Cocktail.

Some drinks are naturally summery, the Pimms cocktail tastes like a deconstructed trifle, minus sherry and jelly and condensed cream. Then there are the exotics: the Daquiris, big creamy Pina Coladas and Margaritas. The latter is a favourite of mine. Because I like my cocktails very very cold and in little triangular glasses. When I say cold however I do not mean full of ice. My Californian friend raised the curious disparity in transatlantic drinking. The Brits are mean with their ice and the Americans are over-generous. My idea of a summer drink is not a long glass tube filled with flavoured ice. But I like my drinks icy, that is strained and shaken through ice. Martinis are too strong and the taste of Manhattans and Cosmopolitans only occasionally pleasing. My favourite summer tipple is, after a medicinal Margarita (well they seem to cure all my ills) the White Lady. It was invented by the venerable H. Craddock at the Savoy in 1930 and was Laurel and Hardy’s favourite tipple. More recently LeCarre’s Fred Leiser insistently tried to press it on other characters.

It ticks my boxes, small stylish glass, enough booze and a fresh light taste. But like all good cocktails it is possible to bicker over it. In this case it is egg white vs no egg white. I am pro the egg white, the bearded one is predictably anti. I like the velvety slightly sherbetty edge the egg white provides. It makes it a trickier and slightly more elegant drink, there is nothing gaudy about it, it was after all Lord Peter Wimsey’s favourite tipple. Here is the basic recipe:

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 egg whites (works with less egg white

Glass Type: cocktail glass of Martini type


Shake well with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Do not decorate with a cherry! Glace cherries are nasty things.


Pink Lady: add a dash of Grenadine.

Blue Lady: add a dash of Blue Curacao.

Balalaika: replace gin with vodka.

Where to buy?

Can’t be bothered to faff around with ice and bottles and wotsits, want some nice young person to make one for you? Try:

Brown’s Hotel

Dick’s Bar below El Camino's (no egg white)

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