White Lady (cocktail)

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White Lady
IBA official cocktail
White Lady - Beefeater gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice (12403540403).jpg
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedStraight up; without ice
Standard drinkware
Cocktail Glass (Martini).svg
Cocktail glass
IBA specified
PreparationAdd all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into large cocktail glass.
TimingAll Day
NotesThis cocktail is a variant of the Sidecar
dagger White Lady recipe at International Bartenders Association

White Lady (also known as a Delilah,[1] or Chelsea Side-car[1]) is a classic cocktail that is made with gin, cointreau or Triple Sec, fresh lemon juice and an optional egg white.[2] It belongs to the sidecar family, made with gin in place of brandy. The cocktail sometimes also includes additional ingredients, for example egg white, sugar, cream, or creme de menthe.[3]

The classic concoction is most commonly served in a Martini cocktail glass. When an egg white is added a champagne coupe is preferable; the silky foam clings more pleasingly to the curved glass.


The original recipe for the White Lady was devised by Harry MacElhone in 1919 at Ciro's Club in London. He originally used crème de menthe, but replaced it with gin at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in 1929.[4][2]

According to the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, the drink was created there by Harry Craddock.[2]


A recipe for the White Lady made with gin, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930.[5] Joe Gilmore, former Head Barman at The Savoy, says this was one of Laurel and Hardy's favorite drinks.[6]

Early recipes like MacElhone's and Craddock's don't have egg white as one of the recorded ingredients.[2]

Comparison with gin sour[edit]

While sours are characterized by a bright acidity, sidecars are often drier, since they are made with liqueurs (in this case Cointreau) instead of sugar. Sidecars are considered more of a challenge for bartenders because the proportion of ingredients is more difficult to balance for liqueurs of variable sweetness.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

In John le Carré's 1965 novel The Looking Glass War, British spy and main protagonist Fred Leiser's favorite drink is a White Lady, and he makes several attempts to get other agents to try the cocktail.

In Dorothy Sayers' mystery novel Have His Carcase, Lord Peter has a White Lady when he hears about his "Lady" Miss Harriet Vane being in trouble again.

It is mentioned in the novel Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway.[4]


  1. ^ a b Colleen Graham (15 November 2016). "Delilah Cocktail or White Lady Cocktail Gin Recipe". the spruce. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "White Lady cocktail". Difford's.
  3. ^ "Minty White Lady cocktail". Difford's.
  4. ^ a b The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival. Simon & Schuster. 2014.
  5. ^ 101 cocktails that shook the world: #5: The White Lady | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at BNET.com
  6. ^ The Savoy: Checking into History" Channel 4 TV UK
  7. ^ Fauchald, Nick (2018). Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions. p. 152.