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10 Facts About White Lady Cocktail

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The White Lady cocktail, invented by bartender Harry MacElhone in 1919, has undergone a significant transformation since its creation. Originally made with crème de menthe, triple sec, and lemon, the cocktail enjoyed popularity for a decade before MacElhone changed the recipe in 1929. The modern version of the White Lady, which is still preferred today, features gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and egg white. This updated recipe creates a drier and more balanced drink compared to the original version.

The combination of gin, liqueur, and lemon creates a harmonious blend of botanicals, sweet orange, and tart citrus flavors. The addition of egg white adds a silky texture and smoothness to the cocktail. To achieve the best results, it is recommended to dry-shake all the ingredients without ice first, followed by shaking with fresh ice to ensure a perfectly blended drink. It’s worth noting that consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs carries a risk of food-borne illness.

  1. Origins: The White Lady was created in 1919 by bartender Harry MacElhone at Ciro’s Club in London. The original recipe was equal parts crème de menthe, triple sec, and lemon juice.
  2. Evolution: In 1929, MacElhone replaced the crème de menthe with gin when he moved to Paris. This established the modern recipe we know today with gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
  3. Egg whites: Some versions include egg whites, which gives the cocktail a rich, silky texture. The egg white also contributes to the drink’s white appearance.
  4. Name theories: One theory suggests the cocktail was named after Zelda Fitzgerald’s blonde hair. Others believe it was just a fancy name MacElhone came up with.
  5. Harry Craddock’s recipe: In 1930, bartender Harry Craddock standardized the modern recipe in his famous “Savoy Cocktail Book,” using more gin than MacElhone’s version.
  6. Laurel and Hardy’s favorite: The White Lady was reportedly the preferred cocktail of the legendary comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
  7. Citrus flavors: The White Lady has a delicate balance of sweet and tart flavors from Cointreau and lemon juice, with a subtle botanical kick from the gin.
  8. Serving suggestions: It makes an excellent before-dinner cocktail, and also pairs well with seafood, creamy appetizers, or citrus-accented desserts.
  9. Garnish: The classic garnish is an orange peel, but versions with no garnish allow the cocktail’s flavors to shine.
  10. Modern popularity: Thanks to the craft cocktail renaissance, the White Lady has seen a major resurgence in recent years at upscale bars and restaurants

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