The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel In London
Opened in 1893 The American Bar at the Savoy hotel started serving American style cocktails in London to the British upperclass. The American Bar has always been a high end bar but what really set it on the map was when Harry Craddock became it’s 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, but 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 coming to an end the hotel realized it should record all of its most famous recipes and the innovations Harry brought to the bar and a year later they published the Savoy Cocktail Book. Printed in 1934 The Savoy Cocktail Book documents all of the bars 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.
How Does The White Lily Taste
The white lily is an amazing cocktail. It somehow is both 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 some many things right that it’s really impressive. lightly sweet, strong, delicate flavor, citrusy and herbal.
The Most Important Ingredient
The most important 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 its 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 great stuff and wonderful to drink by itself but the color is off and aged oaked brandy flavors compete with the cocktails other flavors. It’s great for sipping, not so much for mixing drinks. The reason it specifically has to be Cointreau and not another brand of dry neutral orange liqueur is Cointreau has a ton of orange peel oils dissolved in it. What gives this cocktails its beautiful pale white color is the dissolved oils in the orange liqueur braking off the alcohol molecule they are attached to in a process called the Ouzo effect or louching. Similar to how absinth turns pale white when you add water cointreau does too, but to a much lesser degree since it has much less dissolved oils than absinthe. The amount of oil capable of being dissolved in a liqueur will be proportional to the ABV of the liqueur. Sitting in at 40% ABV, Cointreau has far more orange peel oil than an orange liqueur would at 35, 30, or 25% ABV. Obviously the oil also adds a lot of flavor 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.