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Here’s a sophisticated, citrus-forward drink: the White Lady cocktail! It’s a classic sour featuring gin and lemon with a frothy egg white topping.

White Lady cocktail
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Here’s a smooth, citrus forward classic cocktail with a sophisticated vibe: the White Lady cocktail! This 1920’s style sour is clear and crisp, with a refreshing flavor and a frothy egg white foam topping. It’s super classy, perfect for a cocktail night or just sipping on the porch. Alex and I have been working our way through great cocktails, and this is one is a standout. (Plus, we’re huge fans of sour cocktails, so it’s right up our alley.) Ready to shake it up?

What’s in a White Lady cocktail?

The White Lady is a classic cocktail that’s part of the sour cocktails family: mixed drinks made of liquor, citrus, and sweetener. It’s also called a Delilah or Chelsea Sidecar. It’s like a gin version of a Sidecar, and it’s often served with an egg white foam. It was invented back in the 1920’s, either at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris or the Savoy Hotel in London (both claim it!). The White Lady is actually on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition, which is:

  • Gin
  • Triple sec or Cointreau (orange liqueur)
  • Lemon juice

The egg white foam topping is optional and not included in the official definition, but it’s a popular way to serve it. It makes for a rich and creamy texture: and it looks stunning, too.

White lady cocktial

Cousin drinks: the Sidecar & Gin Fizz!

The White Lady is a variation of the Sidecar cocktail! The Sidecar is one of the most classic sour cocktails there is, aside from the Whiskey Sour. It’s made with Cognac (brandy), lemon and Cointreau and the flavor is very complex: warm, crisp, dry and rich at the same time. This drink recently won its way into Alex and my heart because it’s so perfectly balanced!

Another similar drink to the White Lady is the Gin Fizz. This is another one of our all time favorite classic cocktails. The Gin Fizz uses simple syrup instead of Cointreau, and it adds a splash of soda water for the “fizz”.

How to make a White Lady (basic steps)

The White Lady is made like any classic sour cocktail: you’ll do a special “dry shake” to make for the best frothy egg white foam. Here are the basic steps (or jump to the recipe):

  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 15 seconds without ice.
  2. Add ice to the cocktail shaker and shake again for 30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a glass and the foam will rise to the top. You can garnish with either a lemon twist or a lemon slice, or omit it altogether. (Here’s how to make a lemon twist.)
Egg white cocktail foam

For the best egg white foam: dry shake!

Bartenders have been adding egg whites to cocktail recipes since the 1920’s. Why? The foam adds a fun frothy texture on top and adds a rich, creamy flavor. The technique to get the best frothy egg white form is called a Dry Shake. We use this technique in our egg white cocktails like the Gin FizzSloe Gin Fizz, Boston SourTequila Sour, and Vodka Sour. Here’s how it works:

  • The first shake without ice lets the protein in the egg begin to form foam, instead of being diluted by the ice.
  • The second shake with ice cools the drink and strengthens the foam. Strain it into the glass and you’ll get a thick, white frothy layer.

Want a vegan substitute for the egg white foam? Don’t worry: you can use aquafaba! Aquafaba is the liquid that’s in a can of chickpeas. Because it’s starchy, it can work as a binder similar to an egg. See the recipe below for the exact quantities.

White lady cocktail

What glass to use for a White Lady cocktail?

The White Lady cocktail is typically served in a martini glass or a cocktail glass or coupe glass. The difference is that a martini glass has angular sides, whereas the cocktail glass has curved sides. Purists would argue if you serve it with the egg foam, you should serve it in a coupe glass because the clings to the shape better. We love the look in a martini glass (with or without foam!).

And that’s it: all you need to know to make a White Lady cocktail! Let us know if you try it in the comments below.

When to serve a White Lady cocktail

The White Lady cocktail is a sophisticated sour cocktail that’s perfect for many occasions! It’s great for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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White Lady cocktail

White Lady Cocktail

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Here’s a sophisticated, citrus-forward drink: the White Lady cocktail! It’s a classic sour featuring gin and lemon with a frothy egg white topping.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) gin
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg white*
  • For the garnish: Lemon twist or lemon slice


  1. Add the gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and egg white to a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake for 15 seconds.
  2. Add the ice to the cocktail shaker. Shake again for 30 seconds.
  3. Strain the drink into a martini or cocktail glass; the foam will collect at the top. Serve garnished with a lemon twist or lemon wedge.


*Substitute 2 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) for a vegan variation.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

More sour cocktails

Sour cocktails are a family of cocktails with base liquor, sour, and sweet elements. There are all sorts of variations on a good “sour”. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Classic Daiquiri The Classic Daiquiri is actually not frozen! It’s rum, lime juice, and sweetener. Or try a sophisticated spin, the Hemingway Daiquiri.
  • Tom Collins Cocktail A Tom Collins is also known as a gin sour: is light and bubbly with soda water.
  • Cosmopolitan Cocktail This vibrant pink drink is sweet tart and perfect for gatherings of all kinds, a new and improved spin using all natural cranberry juice.
  • New York Sour Make a classic whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top. Stunning!

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Inge Cossette says:

    I had my first White lady with Curacao and cream, but I will try yours. Inge Cossette