The White Lady Cocktail
The White Lady Cocktail

The White Lady is an elegant sweet and sour classic that can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with a weekend brunch. Don’t leave out the egg whites — or substitute aquafaba for them.

The White Lady Cocktail is a smooth and elegant pre-prohibition cocktail that blends a botanical gin base with tart citrus and silky protein. Thanks to its sweet and tart taste and its easy drinkability, it is suitable both as an aperitif and for brunch.

The history of the White Lady cocktail

Created by Harry MacElhone at London’s Ciro’s Club in 1919, the first iteration of the White Lady cocktail was a far cry from the drink we know today. It was made of equal parts crème de menthe, triple sec, and lemon juice. Bar-goers a hundred years ago must have liked their drinks sweet because this recipe would make your teeth sing.

When MacElhone opened Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, the recipe was reworked into something more familiar, with equal amounts of gin, Cointreau and lemon juice.

The recipe was introduced in print by the American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book. The same ingredients were used, but with arguably better proportions. At some point, an egg white was also introduced, giving the drink smoothness, body and a better mouthfeel.

The end result of these developments is the White Lady cocktail that we know today. A recipe that, despite having a 100-year history, is well adapted to today’s tastes.

As for the name? With a cocktail this old and multiple Harrys claiming authorship, expect some bones of contention. It’s been suggested that it was named after Zelda Fitzgerald and her blonde hair, but it’s also possible that it’s just a fancy-sounding name.

Choosing the right ingredients

I recommend using a London Dry Gin to avoid filling your cocktail with too many conflicting botanicals. However, if there’s a citrusy gin you prefer, that might work well here as well.

The orange liqueur can be Cointreau, Triple Sec, or a dry orange curacao like Pierre Ferrand. They’re all slightly different, but all offer a sweet citrus flavor so you don’t need to be too picky about your selection.

As for the lemon, you need a stimulating acidity to balance the sweetness of the liqueur, so choose a sour variety like a Eureka, not a sweet lemon like a Meyer.

Don’t skip the egg whites (or aquafaba)

To make this drink smooth and silky, the egg white should not be considered optional. If you balk at the idea of ​​raw egg whites in cocktails, you can use a pasteurized egg white. If you don’t eat animal products, aquafaba goes just fine.

If you’d rather not whip up an entire can of chickpeas for just an ounce of bean liquid, know that the liquid freezes fairly well (try portioning 1-ounce amounts in a silicone ice cube tray). The chickpeas themselves can be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, then stored in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.

A tip for clean shaking dry

Because of the egg whites or aquafaba, you’ll need to make a dry shake here and shake the ingredients without ice cream first. This will allow the egg whites to froth properly before you add the ice cubes.

One thing to watch out for when shaking dry is opening the cocktail shaker afterwards, which can result in frothy egg whites splattering on you and your counter.

To avoid this entirely, my trick is to “shake” the ingredients in the shaker with a handheld frother, add ice, close the lid, and actually shake it before pouring it into my mug. This works with both egg whites and aquafaba.

It requires an extra tool, so if you have one, great. If you don’t feel like running to the store to buy another device, your drink won’t suffer; just proceed with a regular dry shake and be careful when opening the shaker.

Refreshing lemony cocktails

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  • Whiskey Sour
  • Grapefruit Margaritas

The White Lady Cocktail

preparation time
5 minutes

total time
5 minutes

1 serving

1 cocktail

This cocktail calls for a raw egg white. If you are concerned about salmonella risks, you can use the white of a pasteurized egg.

The egg white is listed as optional but really gives the drink a superior texture. If you don’t want to use raw egg whites or don’t eat animal products, substitute 2 tablespoons of aquafaba.

This is a dry cocktail. If you enjoy your drinks a little sweeter, add 1/2 ounce of simple syrup with the remaining ingredients.


  • 2 ounces London dry gin

  • 3/4 ounce Orange liqueur

  • 1/2 ounce Freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 proteinOptional

  • Lemon peelfor garnish


  1. Shake ingredients dry:

    In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice and egg white. Shake without ice until egg whites are fairly fluffy, about 30 seconds.

    If you omit the egg whites altogether, you can skip this step and shake the ingredients with ice.

  2. Add ice and shake again:

    Carefully open shaker and fill with 1/3 cup of ice. Close the lid and shake again for about 20 seconds.

  3. Strain and serve:

    Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with the lemon zest.

    Love the recipe? Let’s star down!

nutritional information (per serving)
199 calories
0g Fat
7g carbohydrates
0g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!