Friday Happy Hour: The White Lady

Gin is a tremendously versatile spirit that we’ve used in some of our favorite drinks. But it’s been a while since we’ve featured a gin cocktail, which seems like an oversight on our part. So here’s a simple but smooth and silky classic gin drink: the White Lady. – Andrew



Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The White Lady

2 oz Dry Gin
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 Egg White

Combine all the ingredients with ice. Shake well – really well, to blend in that egg white – and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy!

The White Lady is a Sour, a really simple family of cocktails. Some spirits, some sweet, some sour, and you’re done. You could, if you wanted, make your White Lady just like that, without the egg white, and you’d still have a pretty good drink – sharply botanical from the gin, tart and just a bit sweet. But add in that egg white and you have on your hands a much richer cocktail, with all the rough edges smoothed out and a silky mouthfeel that you can’t get without the egg white.


Why just half an egg white? Because eggs today are generally larger than they were in the past, and most older recipes that involve eggs were written before anyone had ever heard of super jumbo eggs. For most, half the originally specified amount will do. But it’s not particularly easy to measure out half an egg white, so I recommend doubling everything and mixing up two at a time. Just make sure to have someone around to share. Or drink them both yourself. I won’t judge.


This version isn’t the first drink to go by the name White Lady, though it’s much better than its predecessor.  In 1919, Harry MacElhone invented a drink at Ciro’s Club in London that matched Cointreau and lemon juice with crème de menthe. No gin, no spirits at all, just lemon juice and two thin, sweet liqueurs. No thanks.


But ten years later, MacElhone had another bar, the New York Bar in Paris so famous for drinks like the French 75 and maybe the Bloody Mary. There, he reinvented his White Lady, dropping the crème de menthe and adding the gin and egg white. The White Lady goes to show: a bad drink is just a good drink waiting for someone to perfect it.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper