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How The White Lady Cocktail Got Its Name

White Lady Cocktail

The White Lady cocktail, famously known as the Chelsea Sidecar or Delilah, is a classic cocktail that is made from the main ingredients; Cointreau, gin, fresh lemon juice, Triple Sec, and egg white (optional). The cocktail is sometimes blended with additional ingredients such as sugar, cream, and egg white. It is most commonly served in a Martini cocktail glass. Most people prefer adding an egg white to their cocktail, which leads to the formation of a silky form that clings pleasingly to the curved martini glass. Over the years, this classic cocktail has undergone several transformations, but still retains its unique sense of style and elegance. Read on to learn how the White Lady cocktail got its name.

What Is a White Lady Cocktail?

The White Lady cocktail is a classic sour drink that is a member of the sidecar family. The cocktail has several aliases that include; Delilah, Lilian Forever, Chelsea Sidecar, and Janikedvence. The White Lady cocktail is best-known for its bright flavor scent that tastes like summer. Since its invention, this classic cocktail has become a popular cocktail in Great Britain as well in other parts of the globe.


According to London Unattached, the White Lady cocktail was invented back in 1919 by Harry MacElhone, a bartender working at Ciro's Club in London. The original ingredients used to make the cocktail included; triple sec, lemon juice, and crème de menthe or cream. This recipe was, however, used for a short period before the famed bartender MacElhone decided to alter the original cocktail recipe in 1929. The 1929 White Lady Cocktail recipe is still today's most preferred recipe. It entails orange liqueur, egg white, gin, and lemon juice. The reason behind Harry's change of recipe is still yet to be known, but it is believed that when he compared the taste of the two cocktail recipes, he found the recent version to be a tremendous improvement over the original one.

Like many classic cocktails, different people have claimed to be behind the creation of the White Lady cocktail. In 1930, Harry Craddock of The American Bar at The Savoy in London published the recipe of the White Lady Cocktail in his Savoy Cocktail Book. In his White Lady cocktail recipe, he increased the volume of gin, thus making the cocktail drier. Peter Dorelli, a former manager of the American Bar, first suggested adding a dash of egg white to help bind the cocktail together and give it a smooth and silky finish. The White Lady cocktail is ranked among the best classic cocktail worldwide due to the right sour notes of lemon juice, gin, and liqueur. The egg white helps smoothen the drink and results in a rich, silky taste. For a much richer taste, consider "dry-shaking" all the ingredients without ice and later shake again with fresh ice. The first cocktail shake should be performed at a higher room temperature, which works in emulsifying the egg resulting in a perfectly blended cocktail.

How to make the White Lady Cocktail

According to Makemeacocktail, below is a simple guide on how to make the perfect White Lady cocktail:


  • 2 ounces Plymouth gin or London-style dry gin
  • 1-ounce egg white
  • ½ ounce Cointreau or orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice


  • Add dry gin, lemon juice, orange liqueur, Cointreau, and egg white to a shaker and shake well.
  • Add ice and vigorously shake for 10 seconds so that the egg white fully emulsifies.
  • Once the contents in the shaker become fully mixed and chilled, strain to a chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.

White Lady Cocktail Variations

The White Lady is a classic cocktail that makes the perfect base for your favorite drinks. Infusing the gin is another excellent way to dramatically change the taste of your cocktail and add some complexity to its final flavor. The gin can also be replaced with tequila and lemon juice with lime juice. You can simply swab the dry gin with another suitable spirit such as vodka or white rum. This cocktail also blends well with some floral variations such as rhubarb, pink gin, or elderflower cordial for a sweet summertime flavor. Since the White Lady cocktail is commonly served in fancy events and on quiet nights at home, you should consider getting creative with the drink's ingredients. For instance, you can replace the gin with cognac or the Cointreau with grenadine syrup to make the Pink Lady cocktail. According to Liquor, below are some simple techniques you can use to get creative with your White Lady drink:

Dry Shake

Dry shake refers to shaking the liquid content in your cocktail without ice. It is a technique commonly used for cocktails containing egg white. A strong dry shake just before you add ice works best in emulsifying the albumen for an ultimate foamy appearance. This also ensures that the egg whites fully blend with the other ingredients in your cocktail. Dry shaking is also used in cocktails having ingredients with different densities like honey with lemon juice.

Vegan option

There are some people, especially vegans, who are put off by the idea of having egg whites in the cocktail, which is still okay. If you are a vegan, you can substitute the egg white with foaming bitters, which will give your cocktail the same smooth egg white effect, but without any egg white. There are also other people who prefer adding an increased number of egg whites, which usually results in drastic changes in the texture and mouth-feel of the drink. Additionally, there is still the option of deciding not to include any egg white into your White Lady cocktail.

Final Thoughts

The White Lady cocktail is a classic drink representing the amazing creation and evolution of the world's bartending legends. The cocktail is simple and very easy to make in the comfort of your home. It also uses very affordable ingredients. Regardless of its fairly short history, the White Lady cocktail is famously known by many names such as Janikedvence, Kiernander, Delilah, Lilian Forever, and Chelsea Side-Car. Numerous variations have been made on this classic cocktail, including; replacing gin with vodka or white rum, Cointreau with grenadine syrup, lemon juice with lime juice, and the optional egg white with crème.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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