The Evocative Prohibition Cocktail You'd Probably Heard Of From A Book

White Lady cocktail in a coupe glass
White Lady cocktail in a coupe glass - Bhofack2/Getty Images

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You may have heard of the Hemingway daiquiri and James Bond's Vesper martini, but the White Lady is the Prohibition-era cocktail that writers of the time had on the brain -- and it showed up time and time again in their works.

Mystery novelist phenom Agatha Christie wrote characters drinking White Ladies, and detective Lord Peter Wimsey drinks one in "Have His Carcase" by Dorothy Sayers. In "The Looking Glass War" by British novelist and real-life spy John le Carré, spy Fred Leiser names the White Lady as his favorite drink. Ernest Hemingway (whose favorite meal was also his last) canonized the cocktail in "Islands in the Stream," when the character Joseph remarks, "Mr. Bobby was in an evil mood when I went by. Too many mixed drinks, he says. Somebody off a yacht asked him for a White Lady."

The result of these literary references is that the White Lady has been immortalized in cocktail stardom, and so immortalized with an air of inherent mystery, sophistication, and intrigue of its own. Befitting of its spy-like reputation, the drink has a Rolodex of aliases (the Delilah, the Chelsea Sidecar, the Kiernander, and the Janikedvence) and might have borrowed its best-known name from a literary inspiration, as well. Per the lore, the platinum blonde Zelda Fitzgerald (famed 1920s socialite and wife of legendary American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald) was sipping the cocktail at The Savoy, and bartender Harry Craddock named the cocktail after her hair.

Read more: 23 Cocktails To Try If You Like Drinking Gin

The White Lady Cocktail Had Writers Turning Pages And Mid-1900s Bartenders Turning Tables

White Lady cocktail in a coupe glass
White Lady cocktail in a coupe glass - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

The White Lady is a gin sour variation in the Daisy cocktail family (along with the Daisy de Santiago cocktail that brought Bacardi and Havana fame during Prohibition). It's essentially a gin Sidecar, combining 2 parts London dry gin, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part orange liqueur (typically Cointreau or another triple sec), and a dash of rich simple syrup, which are wet-shaken, then dry shaken once more, and finally strained into a chilled coupe glass. (You'll need a Hawthorne strainer for this one.) Garnish with a lemon or orange twist to serve. You could also serve it in a chilled Nick & Nora glass for extra vintage flair.

The White Lady is silky with a sour finish, tightrope-walking the interplay of the sweet orange, tart citrus, and botanical gin for an elegant, refreshing sharpness that becomes more accessible as it warms. For an extra "oomph" in the flavor profile, opt for a dry orange Curaçao like Pierre Ferrand and a sweet Meyer lemon. The traditional version has more of a classic thin mouthfeel, but some modern bartenders make a richer version of the White Lady by adding frothy egg whites. The addition not only creates a thicker mouthfeel, but the aeration and silkiness of the egg white also help round out the sweet-sour-tangy profile of the cocktail with creamy balance.

Read the original article on Tasting Table