Historically famous bartender, Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, first mixed what he called the White Lady while working in London. The drink began as a mixture of Cointreau, crème de menthe, and lime juice, not a particularly palatable concoction as it mixed two liqueurs while neglecting to add a spirit. It wasn’t until a decade later MacElhone rejigged the original to replace the crème de menthe with gin and on top of it all threw in an egg white, giving the drink a ghostly appearance.
Not so coincidentally, a White Lady is just that: a ghost, more specifically, ghosts that were once in love. Folklore and tall tales recount stories of earthly women betrayed by their better half only to end up as bleached banshees who when they appear signal death for those that witness their wafting wear.
What’s more, these heartbroken haunters heed no boundaries. Legends of white ladies exist in a variety of cultures, dating back to Medieval England all the way up to the present-day Philippines. In the United States, urban legends of adolescent apparitions, the result of limousine crashes on the way to the prom, penetrate popular perturbation. The Maltese believe a white lady that stalks a Sixteenth Century castle put herself in purgatory by throwing herself off the castle balcony in her white wedding gown to avoid marrying a man she did not love.
In the UK, the legend of the White Lady of Portchester Castle, first built in the Third Century as a Roman fort on the present-day harbour of Portsmouth, persists. This particular White Lady has friends. A spectral monk in his black cloak are said to float around the castle grounds and a rider on horseback is sometimes seen riding at ossified observers, its horse’s hooves even being captured on tape. The 12th Century church on the castle grounds continues to play host to paranormal activity as animal sacrifices continue to occur there.
But the ghost that most haunts the castle is that of the motherly White Lady, Charlotte White. In Victorian times, Ms. White is thought to have thrown herself from the castle’s keep into the surrounding moat with the motive of saving her baby who had fallen into the moat. It was not the fall that killed her but the search for her child which drowned her. Today, visitors to the castle report seeing her phantom floating over its walls before jumping while feeling a general sense of evil in the air.
If all of these tails inspired Harry MacElhone to create the White Lady will ne’er be known. But if you find yourself the victim of a vaporous visit from a jilted while you sip your Harrington Dry White Lady, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
40ml Harrington Dry Gin
20ml Lemon Juice
Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, pour into chilled martini glass and squeeze some orange zest over the top