The White Lady Cocktail & An Homage to Downton Abbey

The White Lady cocktail. A dry gin, citrus classic! -

Today is a very mixed day for me.  With great anticipation, I’ve been patiently (well, as patiently as possible) waiting for the U.S. kick off season 6 of Downton Abbey.  At the same time, knowing it is the final season makes it bitter sweet.  Somehow I can hear Lady Mary in my head with her matter of fact delivery stating ‘well, we all must get on with things’, though that doesn’t make it any less of a bummer!

If you’ve managed to miss the fever that is Downton Abbey, you have a miraculous ability to dodge the internet and mass marketing.  What began as a British BBC series about the lives and times of an aristocratic family and their in-house servants in the early 1900’s, caught the international TV viewing world by storm.  I personally did not begin watching until after season 2 but finally checked it out after observing the internet turn on its ear when the season was broadcasting.

The White Lady cocktail. A dry gin, citrus classic! -

It is an extraordinary series by my definition.  Held to be historically accurate right down to the salad forks, Downton Abbey lavishes its audience with fully developed characters, fantastic writing, beautiful period costuming, gorgeous décor and a trip through the trials both of the times but of human nature.  Each character, whether from upstairs or downstairs, has a personal tale and challenges the audience intimately experiences.  Somehow they all become relatable on some level; we empathize with their predicaments, and are left hungry for more as each season winds to a close. Downton Abbey offers 360-degree time travel immersion.

I can’t really remember another TV series like Downton Abbey that is so all encompassing.  I love watching history unfold through lives of ‘real people’.  I love seeing the human condition transcend time and geography to know we all really are cut from the same cloth of humanity.  My favorite?  The dining scenes.  Opulent tables set with the finest china, glassware, silver and every dish prepared and served impeccably.  It’s a flawlessly orchestrated culinary dance that one doesn’t witness in the age of modern dining.

Saxe-Coburg Soup (Brussels sprouts, onion, potato) Downton Abbey recipe -
Saxe-Coburg Soup, a thick, creamy puree of Brussels sprouts, potato and onion would have been served at Downton Abbey. The recipe from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook.

As season 5 drew to a close, the era of the cocktail party began.  Diners would always mingle together before being seated for dinner, sipping sherry or champagne, until cocktails wound their way into the ritual in the 1920’s.  For the beginning of this last season I wanted to share an historically accurate cocktail for the occasion.  After loads of sleuthing I decided The White Lady was perfect.  A simple dry gin cocktail with lemon juice and Cointreau keeping it light and citrusy.  The cocktail has taken twists over the years to include an egg white, more Cointreau, less Cointreau and even white crème de menthe instead of gin.  This version holds true to the original as captured in The Savoy Cocktail Book published originally in the 1930’s by the bartenders of London’s premiere luxury hotel The Savoy.

Whether you are a current Downton watcher, or one who will catch up on it (you really must), a fan of the upstairs family or the downstairs servants, lift a glass tonight to the season we have all been waiting for (and maybe dreading a bit too)!  By the way, Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey’s writer, is moving on to a new American project with NBC, The Gilded Age, set in the 1870’s to early 1900’s America.  Can’t wait!

A dry gin, citrus classic! -

The White Lady cocktail

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 cocktail (can be multiplied for larger quantities)

Being a British cocktail from the early 1900's, using dry gin, such as Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire or Tangueray keeps this sipper true to its origin. A light and citrusy cocktail great for any season.

Ingredients are for one cocktail. They may be multiplied to prepare more than one cocktail at a time.


  • 2 ounces Dry Gin
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce Lemon Juice


  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small orange slice if desired.


  1. Joansy says

    I will be watching this final season, also, with such sadness to see it go. I can’t believe how I fell in love with this show! There isn’t anything about it that doesn’t pull one in…the characters, the costumes, the settings, the story line….they are all breathtaking and wonderful. It takes us back to a different time and place, and I love it! It is my Sunday evening escape, and I don’t know what I will do without it. Thank Heaven for DVD’s!

    • says

      I really couldn’t have put it into words better myself. There is something so unique and special about this program, causing it to standout with no other similarly compelling shows. I feel I soak it in every Sunday and will miss it when it’s over.

  2. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    I have never seen the show, but based on the little I do know about it – these cocktails are perfect. I love the idea of them.

  3. says

    I’m a binge TV watcher and prefer to watch a show after all the seasons are done! Once Downton Abbey is done, I’ll start watching so I never have to wait between seasons! 🙂 I’ve heard so many great things and can’t wait to start watching! 🙂

    • says

      I started watching originally wondering what the fuss was about. I think whenever a show has that type of following it’s easy to not totally engage quickly. If you do become interested watching a few episodes together to really get a feel for the characters might be the way to go. I don’t know anyone who has not gotten hooked (even some hard core doubters).

  4. says

    We actually just finished watching Six Feet Under and have been looking for a new series. I’d love to check out Downton Abbey and try this cocktail!

    • says

      Six Feet Under was such a powerful series… when I finished it a few years ago (yes, I was late to that party, too), I felt an acute void in my life… until Downton came along. I hope it brings you as much joy as it has to me!

      • says

        There are several series I’ve been late to start. However once catching up it didn’t matter (or I did not care that I wasn’t current when the madness about them was happening real time). I am so glad you said this David because I feel such a gap between Downton Abbey and most everything else I watch; it will be like saying goodbye to good friends I think when it ends. I think you understand!

  5. says

    I’m too impatient to wait for the U.S. viewing of Downton Abbey and stream it when it’s live in the UK. But, I love it so much, I watch it live again when it is on here. I am a huge fan of all things vintage, so its been a great trip down vintage lane with all the period clothing , decor and food.

  6. says

    I am so sad that the series is coming to an end. I totally binge watched it on Amazon. The cocktail would be a perfect drink to enjoy watching the last few episodes.

  7. says

    I must be one of a very few who have yet to see the series. It is certainly fun to read reviews and find delightful recipes for creamy Brussels sprouts soup and elegant cocktails. As the winter continues to get colder, we are trying more and more warm filling soups. Soxe-Coburg soup and a White Lady cocktail to add some vim and vigor will be a delightful meal sometime this week.

  8. says

    I love downton abbey. I love that you found a coctail that would have fit those times.

    I enjoyed the first episode of this season. I’m also sad that it’s the last.

  9. Rosey says

    I haven’t seen it. Probably one of a handful, I know. 🙂 It’s rare that we turn on the TV though. Except Nick Jr., lol

  10. says

    Honestly I never seen an episode on this show! Seems like the people in the comments are sad to see it go it must of been a great series!

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