The White Lady, Part 2: The Sour Versions

For this version, I turn to Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes, but DeGroff pulled it from the 1934 Savoy Cocktail book by Harry Craddock. It is similar to what is posted on the kitchn.com as well as on the Underhill Lounge Blog, which is one cool guy’s attempt to go through the entire The Savoy Cocktail Book. Nevertheless, each version is different.

Here is The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes version:

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz lemon juice

It’s good, but it’s sour. The Cointreau isn’t quite sweet enough to pull off it’s constituent amount of lemon. Still, I like this drink. Sure, the sourness is overpowering, but it gives it a very nice tingle on the back of the throat.

The Underhill Lounge version has more gin, at 2 oz, with exactly half of the amount of lemon and Cointreau, for this accounting:

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz lemon juice

The additional gin mellows out the very strong lemon. I still have very little hint of the Cointreau, but the lemon is quite a bit less. This version is a lot better than DeGroff’s version, which is way too heavy on the lemon.But DeGroff is representing the original cocktail which had no other sweetener and generally used a 2:1 ratio. I appreciate his consistency.

Then the Underhill Lounge Blog gives a good explanation of how he changes drinks that call for merely a liqueur to carry the sour. He tends to split the liqueur with half simple syrup so the version that he actually tries here is different:

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz syrup
  • 3/4 oz lemon

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 RecipesThat sounds like a good ratio, and it is. It’s a perfect sour. The only problem is that it tastes rather too much like any other sour. After trying the other two versions that rely on the Cointreau as the sole sweetener, I got used to the brightness and punch of the lemon. With this one, the sweet completely counteracts the lemon, and the lemon loses all of its punch. A little more of the gin comes through, but absolutely zilch of the Cointreau. Still, as a sour, it’s really good. After the other two, this one hardly tastes like a White Lady, though; it’s more like a gin sour. Still, nice job, Underhill Lounge.

Then there is the Esquire version:

    The Savoy Cocktail Book

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lemon
  • 1 egg white

The addition of the egg white is a great touch. I like the consistency that egg white gives drinks. It changes the entire mouthfeel to something much more luxuriant. I also like the proportions of Cointreau to lemon. They allow the gin to shine much more than the recipes that call for double those amounts.

    Meanwhile, the Intoxicologist, one of my favorite cocktail sites, uses the original Savoy recipe, with 2:1 gin vs. liqueur and lemon, with the addition of 1/2 oz of simple syrup.The Intoxicologist uses Egg Beaters instead of egg whites, but I forgive her because her stomach can’t stomach raw eggs. This version is good, too. The extra syrup counteracts the lemon juice and allows for a larger drink without sacrificing good taste.

    Overall, the White Lady is a great cocktail that I recommend to anyone who enjoys gin and a good sour. When I make my next one, I will be using the Esquire version or the Intoxicologist version (with a real egg white, of course!), but that’s only because I find the overpowering lemon a bit too difficult to drink. Not to mention that the morning after drinking four of these babies, I still feel like there’s acid in my mouth. Too much lemon juice will do that, I guess.

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