White Lady Cocktail

White Lady Cocktail
1/4 Lemon Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau, Shy 1/2 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
1/2 Dry Gin . (1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Ostensibly one of the most famous Savoy Cocktails, this was even sold as a bottled cocktail during the early years of the century:

Let’s talk a bit, first, about mixing Citrus Based Cocktails.

First off, a lot of times, it can be hard to balance a cocktail with only a liqueur as a sweetener. So, I sometimes hedge my bets by substituting in a portion of simple syrup for the liqueur. Reducing the amount of liqueur also puts the primary spirit of the cocktail in clearer focus, than using entirely liqueur.

This works really well in a Margarita, or its Gin cousin here, the White Lady.

The other element is the balance between sour and sweet elements of the cocktail. I find my preference is for slightly more sweetener than sour, of course depending on the sweetening power of the sweet element, syrup or liqueur. But if I’m using a 1-1 simple syrup, something like 3/4 ounce lemon or lime to 1 oz simple, or 1/2 oz liqueur and 1/2 oz Simple, works for me.

It’s worth noting, aside from the concentration of the syrup, that not all liqueurs or sweeteners have the same perceived sweetening powers. For example, the very popular Agave Syrup has much more perceived sweetness than even a very concentrated Sugar Syrup.  With a cocktail with 3/4 oz lemon or lime, you will probably not need more than a half ounce of Agave Syrup to balance the tartness of that cocktail.

From the other direction, some liqueurs or fruit syrups may contain a tart element which will reduce their sweetening efficacy in a cocktail. Depending, you may need to increase the amount of sweetener in the cocktail to balance out the cocktail.

Also, sometimes it is fun to change up the spirit to sweetener ratio.

Especially, if you have a particularly nice spirit, say Tequila or Brandy, it can be interesting to reduce both the tart and sweetening elements of the cocktail.

For example, with a tasty Calvados or Reposado Tequila, I would probably use 2 oz and spirits and only 1/2 oz of lime and a bit more than 1/2 oz of sweetener.  This puts the spirit first and foremost in the cocktails taste.  For example, during a recent event a friend and I made Jack Roses with exactly with that ratio: 2 oz Groult Calvados Reserve, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Grenadine. They were fantastic.

On the other hand, making the Jack Rose with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, I would absolutely go with 1 1/2 oz Spirit, 3/4 oz Lemon, 1/2 oz 1-1 Simple Syrup, and 1/2 oz Grenadine.

Also, some spirits are quite a bit sweeter than others, especially those where sweetener is allowed by the class definition: Rum, Gin, Blended Whiskey, etc. You may not need as much sweetener when making a Rum or Gin Sour, depending on the brand or style of Spirit.

The character of the citrus you are mixing with, can also be a big element when deciding how to balance your cocktail.

It was interesting, I recently worked an event organized by an East Coast Mixologist. He had made drinks for the same event in NY. However, when he batched the drinks on the West Coast using the same recipes he remarked to me, “Damn your bright, tart, West Coast citrus juice, it is messing up my batch recipes.”

Harry Craddock’s Simple Gin Sour sweetened with Cointreau was not the first cocktail with this name.

The other Harry, McElhone, first published a cocktail with this name in his book, “Harry’s ABC of Cocktails”:

White Lady
1/6 Brandy
1/6 Creme de Menthe
2/3 Cointreau
Shake well and strain.

However, for some reason, Craddock’s sour is the one we think of when we mix a White Lady, rather than McElhone’s Cointreau and Creme de Menthe based drink.

Go figure…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.