Proving that you shouldn’t judge a cocktail by its name, the White Lady Cocktail is a classic drink that’s appropriate for multicultural cocktail connoisseurs. Read on to learn how to craft a White Lady cocktail at home in just five minutes.
The White Lady cocktail caught our eye because and despite of its name. Let’s face it, the name ‘White Lady’ isn’t exactly politically correct.
Not only does the name gender code the cocktail but it also excludes a majority of the population who represent a rainbow of colors including black and brown. In the era of cancel culture, we thought long and hard before we crafted White Lady cocktails at home.
We’re glad we ultimately decided to give the politically incorrect drink a whirl. Not only is this classic gin cocktail easy to craft, but it also looks and tastes like a dream.
History of the White Lady Cocktail
History reveals that the White Lady cocktail was probably invented by a Harry… but we’re not sure which Harry.
One inventor could be Harry MacElhone, a Scottish bartender who claims to have invented the White Lady in London before he purchased Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. MacElhone’s White Lady creation included crème de menthe but omitted egg white. This origin story has the most credibility and makes the White Lady a French cocktail.
However, it’s possible that Harry Craddock, a British bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel and author of The Savoy Cocktail Club Book, invented the White Lady. If so, it’s also possible that he named the white cocktail after Zelda Fitzgerald’s platinum blonde hair. Either way, this Harry didn’t add egg white to his White Lady either.
What Is a White Lady Cocktail?
The White Lady cocktail is a gin cocktail that’s both a classic sour and a member of the sidecar family. It’s also a drink with multiple pseudonyms.
Also known as a Chelsea Sidecar, Delilah, Janikedvence and Lillian Forever, the White Lady has a bright flavor profile that tastes like summer. But it’s not just a summer cocktail. Over the years, the White Lady has become a popular Christmas cocktail in Great Britain.
Despite its genteel appearance and hoity-toity name, this Pre-Prohibition cocktail packs a punch. Discover more of our favorite Pre-Prohibition cocktails.
White Lady Cocktail Ingredients
Like most classic cocktails, the White Lady has a short and sweet ingredient list. You likely have all of the required items in your home bar and pantry:
Gin and triple sec are the White Lady’s two key ingredients and required liquors. We choose to use Citadelle Gin de France and Cointreau when we craft White Lady cocktails at home.
Citadelle’s dry gin has 19 botanicals and comes in a pretty blue bottle. Plus, it felt right to use this gin since we also use it when we craft Pink Lady cocktails.
Discover our favorite gin cocktails.
Choosing to use Cointreau was a no-brainer. We adore the orange liqueur and previously added it to our Orange Creamsicle and French 75 cocktail recipes. Its gentle citrus flavor completes those drinks and the White Lady too.
Discover our favorite Cointreau cocktails.
How to Craft a White Lady
Crafting a White Lady cocktail doesn’t require any special equipment or tools. We typically use the following tools when we craft one ourselves:
While you don’t need any or all of these tools to successfully craft a White Lady drink at home, none is expensive and they’ll enhance your overall cocktail experience.
Discover 10 essential bar tools for home mixologists.
The first step in crafting a White Lady is to measure the gin, cointreau and fresh lemon juice. We like to use a Japanese jigger to both avoid spillage and ensure accurate measurements.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you don’t have one or if you want to make an inexpensive jigger upgrade.
The second step is to separate and measure the egg white. You can skip this step if you’re vegan or if you’re uncomfortable with drinking raw egg product.
Your cocktail won’t be foamy if you omit the egg white.
Pour the liquors, lemon juice and egg white into a cocktail shaker as you measure each. We like to use a Boston shaker for this and other cocktail recipes since it doesn’t leak.
Buy a Boston shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a shaker or if you want to improve your at-home mixology experience.
The fourth step, shaking the cocktail, has two parts:
First, vigorously shake the ingredients without ice for about 10 seconds. This process is called a ‘dry shake’ and allows the egg white to emulsify.
Next, after adding ice, shake the cocktail for about 20 seconds until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and chilled.
There’s no need to ‘dry shake’ the cocktail if you omit egg white from the recipe.
The fifth step is to strain the cocktail into a coupe glass. We like to use one with a gold rim; however, you can use a small martini class or even a champagne flute instead.
Regardless of your preferred cocktail glass, garnish the finished White Lady with a lemon twist.
Buy a coupe glass with a gold rim from Amazon.
White Lady Drink Alternatives
While the White Lady cocktail is ideal for both fancy functions and quiet nights at home, you may want to get creative with the milky white drink. Here are three ideas for those who want to flex their mixology muscles:
White Lady Cocktail FAQs
The White Lady is a Pre-Prohibition classic that’s both a classic sour and a member of the sidecar family.
With multiple origin stories, the history of the White Lady cocktail is a mystery.
Yes. The White Lady’s other names include Chelsea Sidecar, Delilah, Janikedvence and Lillian Forever.
Cointreau, Dry Gin, Egg White (optional), Lemon Juice, Lemon Twist (garnish) and Ice Cubes (for shaking)
The White Lady is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a gold-rimmed coupe glass but you could use a small martini glass instead.
White Lady Cocktail Recipe
The White Lady cocktail is both classy and cool. It's also incredibly easy to craft at home.
- 2 ounces dry gin
- 1/2 ounce cointreau
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1 egg white (optional)
- lemon twist (garnish)
- ice cubes
- Combine dry gin, cointreau, lemon juice and egg white in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds so that the egg white emulsifies.
- Add several ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds until the liquids are mixed and chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Add a lemon twist as garnish.
- We like to use a coupe glass but a small martini glass or champagne flute will work too.
- The egg white can be omitted if you're a vegan or uncomfortable with ingesting raw eggs.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: September 3, 2021
Friday 4th of February 2022
I made the politically incorrect White Lady Cocktail and it is delicious. Especially while we are sitting outside barefoot and the temperature is 70 in February in Virginia Beach, VA. Due to be only 35 tomorrow so we are enjoying it while we can! 🍸 And a sidenote: Our small 50pound Rottweiler mix rescue is named Bete Noire. Actually after an amazing chocolate torte I have made. We just call her Bete so as not to upset anyone!