White Lady Cocktail

Without looking too hard, you’ll find a few different recipes going by the name “White Lady”. Two, three or even four of them are all from the same bartender, Harry MacElhone, who created the drink in 1919. His original recipe called for Creme de Menthe, Cointreau, and Lemon Juice. In “ABC of Mixing Drinks” he lists it as Brandy, Creme de Menthe, and Cointreau, and then in 1923, when he took over the New York Bar in Paris, he updated the recipe again to be gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice, which is far more palatable. Many times these days, you will find this drink made with egg white as well.
The recipe used here is as it was served by Harry Craddock at the Savoy cocktail bar in London.


1 1/2 ounces Martin Miller’s Gin

3/4 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce lemon juice


Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.


Ben Golden 29 May 2012
8:00 pm

This is one of the first cocktails I’ve ever made and also one of my favorites.  I’ve always used equal parts, which I like because you can taste each ingredient in a subtle way where nothing dominates.  I just tried it this way, which is also good in that it provides a nice canvas for the gin spices to come through.

steve7500 30 May 2012
12:37 pm

I watch your features and really like what you do. You explain things very well and also why you do or do not do or use a particular brand or ingredient .
I would like to know where I can obtain a jigger like you use ? Keep up the ghreat work,

Adam 31 May 2012
8:25 am

That jigger is the Oxo Good Grips Jigger.

Great video, Robert.  Really happy to see updates again.

Charles F. Munat 31 May 2012
10:09 am

Hmm. Ted is right, and I think Dave would agree, too. And your argument is flawed. If the “original” is what counts, you should be making something with that lovely creme de menthe in it, no? The questions is, When was the recipe *perfected*? And I believe, as do many others obviously, that it wasn’t perfected until the egg white was added. And since this is the first argument that you and I ever had many years ago, I can only surmise that you just don’t like the egg white version. So ‘fess up.

At least you mentioned it. :-)

Martin Miller was a very good choice. I would put the cut side down in the squeezer, but maybe that’s just me.

And now I’m jonesing for a good White Lady, and it’s 2 in the afternoon. I have to remember to start watching these videos in the evening…

Nice video.

H. Joseph Ehrmann 31 May 2012
10:11 am

Robert, where is this drink mentioned as the “Delilah”? Also, for SF Chefs last year I made Sparkling White Ladies (this recipe) with a Perlini and they were a huge hit!

H. Joseph Ehrmann 31 May 2012
10:15 am

And Charles, nice attempt at making it sound like you don’t drink until 2 in the afternoon. It was clearly 10:09am when you posted. I’ve got your number, buddy! White Ladies are perfect breakfast cocktails…especially with some egg (add a side of whole wheat toast points and fresh strawberries and you have a well balanced breakfast).

Charles F. Munat 31 May 2012
11:14 am

Nice try, H., but I have time zones on my side. So while you’re at GMT-7, I’m at GMT-3.

Though IF I were to drink in the morning (you’re gonna need sworn affidavits before I admit to anything), a White Lady (WITH egg white) would be the perfect, high-protein, low cholesterol breakfast. I’d get my vitamin C, too. Like a liquid, egg-white omelet. With, er, Cointreau and gin.

Maybe you’ve started something? The famous “H” White Lady breakfasts? It’s like something out of Gravity’s Rainbow…

H. Joseph Ehrmann 31 May 2012
11:21 am

we need to get “like” buttons for the comments section on here….

steve7500 31 May 2012
1:10 pm

Thanks to Adam for the answer re:OXO Jigger. Martin Miller is a good choice but I like Hendricks a little better in a drink like White Lady. I like MM in a Martini w/Dry Vermouth ,not with Cointreau. MM has a certain taste that conflicts with some mixes. Maybe it’s me. Thanks to all,I always learn from Robt.Hess,Charlotte Voisey and the crew but I learn just as much from reading the comments.

Bill 31 May 2012
5:42 pm

I’ve actually made this drink before. It’s a simple and natural concoction, so I knew that others would have beaten me to it.

Thanks for the video, Robert. I hope you’ll follow up at some point with a video on the Pink Lady. I’ve come across so many different recipes for that—often with very little in common—that I have no idea what ladies who ordered it back in the day could expect to get.

Annette Holbrook 1 Jan 2015
7:32 pm

Robert, thanks so much for this recipe. The White Lady is the drink that got me started into the world of cocktails about 10 years ago.  I was in Asheville NC for the weekend and we went to one of those typical white glove, ties and blazer restaurants still found in the south. They still had a traditional cocktail bar with the bartender in a waistcoat. The drink of the evening was the White Lady so I ordered one to get into the spirit of the place. I was a convert from my usual dark beer! I went home to Atlanta and decided to make one for myself. Just like you said, I couldn’t find a recipe that looked like what I’d tasted. I searched multiple cocktail books and websites and then moved on to other drinks.  The version you demonstrate looks and sounds like exactly what I’ve been looking for. Oh and being deathly allergic to egg white, I know mine was egg free and will remain so

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