Since Halloween’s in a few weeks I thought I’d do a couple cocktails that have a spooky theme. The first being the White Lady, named for the pale, diaphanous look she has.
Although the white lady sounds regal and debonaire, she’s actually quite creepy. See, the white lady has long been associated with feminine spectres who mean different things depending on the country you hale from. In Germany she’s believed to be a gentle, healing spirit who appears at noon in the bright sunlight. In Ireland and other northern countries however, the sighting of a white lady foretells death. In Mexico, they are the spirits of women who supposedly drowned their children and wait by bodies of water to lure other children to their deaths. Whoever she is, or whatever legend you believe, she’s almost always someone’s unhappy wife or illicit lover and she always seems to haunt rural settings or forgotten roads, which makes her perfect for Halloween.
While the cocktail was not conceived under the light of the full moon, it’s origin is a little sketchy. Some believe it was created by Harry MacElhone in 1919 at Ciro’s Club in London. But he used crème de menthe instead of gin and about double the Cointreau. He changed up his recipe in 1929 while working at Harry’s American Bar in Paris, replacing the crème de menthe with gin and losing half the Cointreau, thereby creating the cocktail we now know and love. But it was Harry Craddock (who created the cocktail bible, the Savoy Cocktail Book) who printed the recipe in his book in 1930 and so is considered by some to be the cocktail’s rightful owner.
Whoever created the White Lady did so knowing she’d be a sour. What’s a sour? It’s a cocktail that contains a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. This lovely, creepy lady contains all three and shows them off quite well. So well, in fact, she’s sure to show them off at several parties this Halloween. If you see her, make sure to invite her in. But be careful, just like the spectre for which she’s named, too many sightings could mean trouble.
- 1 oz. gin
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz. Cointreau
- Pour all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for one minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.