We keep coming back to the two Harrys*. Harry MacElhone (ABC of Mixing Cocktails) and Harry Craddock (The Savoy Cocktail Book). “The White Lady” (also known as “Delilah”) was invented by the former in London, in 1919. Originally, it had crème de menthe instead of gin. But when the first Harry founded Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1923, he substituted gin for the crème de menthe. The drink became popular, not only for its taste, but for its elegant appearance. And in 1930, the other Harry, Harry Craddock, published the recipe in his seminal cocktail manual, increasing the amount of gin, making it drier. Subsequent recipes have included the addition of an emulsified egg white.
*Actually, it should be three, although this Harry has nothing to do with “The White Lady”. Harry Johnson, who wrote the New & Improved Bartender Manual in 1900. So what’s up with cocktails back then and guys named Harry?
POSTSCRIPT: "The White Lady" was the favorite drink of the comedy team, Laurel & Hardy.
THE WHITE LADY
2 parts Beefeater Gin
½ part Cointreau or Triple Sec
splash of Yellow Chartreuse*
½ part fresh-squeezed Lemon juice
1 fresh Egg White
Dry shake all ingredients for several minutes to emulsify the egg white. Add ice, then shake again to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
*My added touch! The Yellow Chartreuse takes the bite off the lemon juice, and gives the flavor an added complexity, with the hint of sweetness.
If Garbo spoke, she would say that she likes "The White Lady".
A good, well-made cocktail makes you happy... and makes you put silly things on your head!