White Lily – Classic Recipe

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White Lily Cocktail
White Lily Cocktail

What Does The White Lily Taste Like?

The white lily is a fantastic cocktail. It is clean and strong with a delicate orange and herbal flavor. If you wanted to group it, then it’s more along the lines of a vesper or dry martini. The white lily does many things right that it’s really impressive—lightly sweet, strong, and delicate flavor, citrusy and herbal.

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.

Use The Right Orange Liqueur.

The most essential ingredient in the white lily is the orange liqueur. You have to use Cointreau, no other brand works, and I will tell you why. When mixing any cocktail, it’s best to use a neutral base spirit, orange liqueur, like Cointreau, and not one that uses an aged-based spirit, like Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier is excellent stuff and wonderful to drink by itself, but the color is off, and aged oaked brandy flavors compete with the cocktail’s other flavors. It’s excellent for sipping, not so much for mixing drinks. It specifically has to be Cointreau and not another brand of dry neutral orange liqueur because Cointreau has a ton of orange peel oils dissolved in it. This cocktail’s beautiful pale white color is the dissolved oils in the orange liqueur breaking off the alcohol molecule they are attached to in a process called the Ouzo effect or louching. It is similar to how absinthe turns pale white when you add water. Cointreau does too, but to a much lesser degree since it has fewer dissolved oils than absinthe. The amount of oil capable of being dissolved in a liqueur will be proportional to the ABV of the liqueur. At 40% ABV, Cointreau has far more orange peel oil than an orange liqueur would at 35, 30, or 25% ABV. The oil also adds a lot of flavors, but only Cointreau will give you that beautiful look and intense orange flavor. Again other orange liqueurs will still taste good but will not have the same appearance. Check out my Absinthe drip description for a more detailed explanation of the Ouzo effect.

Recipe Resources


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White Lily

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British






Total time



Learn how to make the a classic White Lily.


  • 5 dashes Absinthe

  • 1 oz Orange Liqueur

  • 1 oz White Rum

  • 1 oz Dry Gin


  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass. Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass.
  • Garnish with an expressed lemon peel.

Recipe Video



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