The White Lady is a gin based, sour style cocktail with a devoted following. Its simple structure hides the wonderful but subtle complexity of the drink. The White Lady is a citrus-led cocktail made using fresh lemon juice, with herbaceous notes from the gin and triple sec. It can be quite dry but the added egg whites contribute to a light, silky smoothness, it is refreshing and uplifting in equal measure.
Gin, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup, Egg Whites – Nick N Nora*
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The White Lady is one of the most famous of the sour family of cocktails. Notably featured in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, this elegant sour features gin, lemon juice, triple sec and egg whites, which give it its distinctive cloud-like appearance and its light silky texture.
The White Lady is a bartender favourite, for good reason, this cocktail is perfectly balanced and beautifully moreish, and makes the perfect addition to a classic-styled menu. There are a range of similar classic cocktails that would be great counterparts to the White Lady; the Clover Club is a fruity pink version of the White Lady featuring grenadine in place of triple sec to lend a vibrant colour and a smooth raspberry note to this cocktail.
The egg whites in these drinks are what give them their silky, fluffy texture, but for those catering to vegans or guests who prefer not to eat eggs, there are alternatives. Aquafaba is the starchy water that can most commonly be found in a can of chickpeas, this relatively flavourless liquid has similar thickening property to egg-white and is completely vegan. If you want to provide egg-free options for these drinks just let your event organiser know.
Another great classic, creamy sour is the Whiskey Sour, this cocktail recipe is nearly identical to the White Lady, simply leaving out the triple sec, replacing the gin with sweet, caramel-y bourbon and serving the whole thing on the rocks rather than straight up. Needless to say there are a huge range of sours using everything from gin and vodka to pisco and cachaca so if you wanted to serve an entirely sour-styled menu there’d certainly be something for everyone.
The White Lady is of course a great inclusion for a gin-based menu too. This classically popular and versatile spirit has lent its unique botanical flavours to hundreds of cocktails over the years and for those eager to showcase some of the greats there’s a wide variety to choose from. Some particular Mixology Events favourites include the Corpse Reviver No.2; a 1920’s pick-me-up featuring gin, triple sec, lemon juice, floral dry vermouth and a dash of absinthe, or the luxurious French 75; a classic Gin Fizz of gin, lemon and sugar, topped lavishly with champagne or prosecco in place of the usual soda water.
If you’re planning to feature a White Lady on your cocktail menu and want to know more about what drinks would sit well alongside it, be sure to speak to your event organiser about your options, or check out some other gin based, classic and sour-style cocktails from our list.
Like all good classics the invention of the White Lady is heavily disputed.
Harry MacElhorne, working in the 1920’s made a drink with equal parts creme de menthe, lemon juice, triple sec. The former was later replaced with gin, and the ratios adjusted. Harry Craddock also claims to have invented the cocktail, and it does appear in The Savoy Cocktail book. We’ll never really know but the drink has now evolved into a very popular classic.
Myths & Legends
According to Joe Gilmore, once head bartender at the Savoy’s American Bar, this was one of Laurel and Hardy’s favourite drinks. It’s also thought that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda drank these at the Savoy and the drink was named for her and her platinum blonde hair.
A brief history of the White Lady from Sipsmith;
“It was dreamed up by legendary bartender Harry MacElhone at London’s Ciro Club in 1919. However, his questionable first draft — which featured an eyebrow-raising glug of white crème de menthe, as well as Cointreau and lemon juice — is far from the number we enjoy today.
“Luckily, MacElhone was amenable to tweaking his recipes, and it was several years later, after he’d settled into his own Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, that he debuted version number two. Wisely jettisoning the crème de menthe in favour of gin, he settled on a drier and much more palatable serve.”
Ingredients & Equipment
Given that the White Lady should lead with those citrus notes we recommend using a gin with lots of citrus forward notes so use a good, bold classic gin like Plymouth or go with a classic London Dry by Jenson’s.
- 37.5ml Gin
- 12.5ml Triple Sec
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 12.5ml Sugar Syrup
- 1 Egg White
- Lemon Twist for Garnish
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Fine Strainer
- Mexican Elbow
- Martini Glass or Coupette
- Cubed Ice
- Chill your glass in the freezer or fill it with ice
- Take your Boston glass or small tin
- Crack your egg and carefully pass the contents from one half of the shell to the other to separate the egg, over your shaker, adding the white to the shaker and discarding the yolk
- If any yolk goes into your shaker, discard and try again
- Using your jigger to measure, add the gin, triple sec and sugar syrup to the shaker
- Using your Mexican elbow and a jigger to measure, squeeze 25ml of lemon juice and add it to the shaker
- Fill your shaker with cubed ice and seal using your Boston tin or glass
- Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until your tin is very cold
- Using your Hawthorne strainer, strain your cocktail from one half of the shaker to the other and discar the left over ice
- Re-seal your shaker and shake your cocktail for a further 5-10 seconds without any ice to aerate the egg-white
- Remove your glass from the freezer or empty it of ice if necessary
- Using your fine strainer, strain your cocktail into your chilled Martini glass or coupette
- Garnish with a thin lemon twist
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.