White Lady – Classic Recipe

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White Lady Cocktail

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British






Total time



Learn how to make the a White Lady.


  • 1 Whole 1 Egg Whites

  • 2/3 oz 2/3 Lemon Juice

  • 1 oz 1 Orange Liqueur

  • 2 oz 2 Dry Gin


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add one medium or two small ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake until the ice fully melts.
  • Without a strainer, pour the chilled and aerated drink into a glass.


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The History Of The White Lady.

The oldest known White Lady recipe comes from the 1923 Harry MacElhone book “Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails,” His recipe is very different from the more popular Savoy recipe. The original White Lady is 1 oz brandy, 1 oz creme de menthe, and 2 oz Cointreau, shaken and strained. This version of the white lady never quite caught on; the more popular version is the Harry Craddock recipe from the Savoy.

A Short History Of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel In London.

In 1893, The American Bar at the Savoy hotel started serving American-style cocktails in London to the British upper class. The American Bar has always been a high-end bar but what set it on the map was when Harry Craddock became its head bartender in the 1920s. Harry Craddock was a British-born bartender who immigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a US citizen and head bartender of several high-end hotel bars. Still, Harry found himself out of work with the start of prohibition in 1920. He then immigrated back to England and became head bartender of the Savoy Hotel’s Bar. Harry transformed The American Bar from a high-end bar to one of the seminal cocktail bars of the 20th century. As the American prohibition was ending, the hotel realized it should record all of its most famous recipes and the innovations Harry brought to the bar. A year later, they published the Savoy Cocktail Book. Printed in 1934, the Savoy Cocktail Book documents the bar’s best recipes from the 1890s to the 1930s and stands as the pillar of prohibition-era European cocktail innovation. If Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide is the best cocktail book the 1800s gave us, then The Savoy Cocktail Book is the best cocktail book of the first half of the 1900s. I don’t think I will ever be able to drink there, though. A cocktail cost around $250 there, and they have one that’s almost $1000, and I’m not the Amazon guy, so good thing we have their recipe book.

What Does The White Lady Taste Like?

The white lady is a fantastic velvety smooth cocktail that tastes like a gin lemon meringue. The flavor profile is similar to the sidecar or margarita, but the egg whites add a wonderful texture and smoothness.

Should You Use Cointreau, Triple Sec, Or Curaçao?

You can use Cointreau or triple sec/Curaçao/orange liqueur. Technically they are all orange liqueurs, and the only reason for the different names is history, marketing gimmicks, and brand names. Check out my orange liqueur description for a more detailed account of that. Again you don’t have to use Cointreau; any orange liqueur will work. On that note, though, Cointreau is the best and makes for what I think is a noticeably better cocktail. The only downside to Cointreau is its price tag. It’s a little pricier than other brands (around 50 bucks for a liter), but it’s worth it. There have been other delicious and pricy orange liqueurs to hit the market in the last few years, but Cointreau is still the go-to.

How To Get Great Foam On Cocktails With Egg Whites.

Egg Whites are challenging to get right in cocktails. Everyone struggles with them at some point, and bartenders search for any way to make whipping them into a fluffy meringue easier. Henry Ramos hired “shaker boys” to shake for him. Some use the dry shake or reverse dry shake, others swear by only using one large ice cube, and some say you have to shake till your arms fall off. The method I like is called the Saxe Shake, and De Forest Saxe invented it in the 1880s.

The Saxe Shake is largely unknown in the cocktail world because De Forest Saxe was a soda fountain operator in Chicago, Illinois. His 1890 book “Saxe’s New Guide Hints to Soda Water Dispensers” details his shaking technique for egg drinks that produces the best foam and can be accomplished with minimal effort. Saxe states to shake drinks with eggs with only one chestnut-sized ice cube. An Ice cube from a standard ice tray is about chestnut-sized, so one or two small cubes will work. Then shake until the ice fully melts, and pour into the serving glass without straining. The small amount of ice is just enough to cool and dilute the drink, and since there are no remaining bits of ice left in the shaker, there is nothing to strain. Passing the mixture through a strainer destroys most of the bubbles you worked so hard to make. As you add soda water, the escaping carbon dioxide fills the tiny bubbles in the drink, forcing them to expand and form a large fluffy foam. Give it a try. Using the Saxe Shake, I have turned out Ramos Gin Fizzes as fast and efficiently as any other shaken cocktail with excellent results.

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