Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.
Today’s call comes by way of Jaime Felber, head bartender and partner at Boulton & Watt (5 Avenue A; 646-490-6004).
The kitchen was always a central meeting place for Jaime Felber and his family when he was growing up in the United Kingdom. The beauty and simplicity of his family’s interactions there inspired him to seek out a career in the service industry; after a decade tending bar in the U.K., he settled in New York to expand his expertise. One pleasant consequence of the move? He found his favorite drink. One night at PDT, a bartender made him a drink known as the “White Lady,” and the bartender was hooked.
“The base spirit of gin appeals to my British, alcoholic sensibilities,” he says. “A decently floral gin is nice, as it stands up against the frothy dryness of the egg white. The egg white itself holds the flavor of the Cointreau and the lemon juice, which offsets the Cointreau’s potential sweetness. It’s a simple drink, yet fits just about any mood or any season, and I get to order it with a straight face.” He compares the airiness to that of whipped mascarpone.
Felber notes that the drink’s place in his personal bartending history is the main reason he returns to this cocktail frequently. “It hasn’t always been my favorite drink, and truth be told, I don’t drink it all the time,” he says. “My tastes change with the season, but I always come back to it, time and time again. It was one of the first drinks I learned to make with egg whites way back when. It was also one of my guaranteed go-to cocktails as a bartender when someone would say, ‘I don’t do gin.’ ”
When not asking his bartenders at Boulton & Watt to craft a White Lady — which is part of his interview process — Felber recommends the following strategy to finding the drink in a bar near you: Look for “any bar that takes pride in making cocktails,” he says. “I’m not saying you have to go to a cocktail bar, but don’t walk into your local dive bar and ask for a White Lady. Any bar that has a cocktail menu should know how to make this simple classic. If I’m going elsewhere for one, Nick Brown at PDT makes a damn good White Lady, too, and occasionally, he panders to my slightly odd love of blue drinks by switching out the Cointreau for blue curaçao. I wouldn’t recommend it for flavor, but for a ridiculous aesthetic, it’s great.”
The White Lady
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 egg white
Add the gin, Cointreau, and egg white together in a shaker. Dry shake (no ice) to emulsify the egg white with the liquors. Add the lemon juice, add ice, shake once more, and double-strain into a coupe.
When he’s not drinking a White Lady, Felber opts for the Rob Roy: “I like mine perfect, which really means I like them with equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth,” he says. “They’re also the very other end of the spectrum to the light and airy White Lady.”
2 ounces blended scotch whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Stir, serve up, garnish with a lemon twist or brandy cherries.