The Story Behind the Stork Club Cocktail


The Stork Club Cocktail

© 2013 Poul Lange

In the 1930s and 1940s, everyone who was anyone went to the Stork Club. The New York nightclub and restaurant was a hangout for the country’s elite, from entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball to politicians like Ronald Regan and John F. Kennedy, Jr. On any given night, the “King of Swing” Benny Goodman and his orchestra would be performing, while the club’s patrons canoodled over Champagne, cocktails, and caviar.

Society writer Lucius Beebe summed up the club’s status in a 1946 book: “To millions and millions of people all over the world the Stork symbolizes and epitomizes the de luxe upholstery of quintessentially urban existence. It means fame; it means wealth; it means an elegant way of life among celebrated folk.”

Along with a desirable social scene, the Stork Club was known for its world-class cocktail program. Chief barman Nathaniel “Cookie” Cook and his crew invented dozens of drinks, including the club’s signature libation, the Stork Club Cocktail. Featuring sweetened old Tom gin, along with freshly squeezed orange and lime juice, Cointreau, and bitters, the drink is pleasantly tangy and endlessly quaffable.

The tangerine-hued cocktail added a splash of color to the club’s dark-paneled formal dining room, sipped by executives in their tuxedoes and debutantes and fashion models in their strapless gowns. At this temple to café society, the Stork Club cocktail was the most stylish glass to raise.

Recipe: Stork Club Cocktail

  • 1 ½ ounces Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ ounce lime juice
  • ¼ ounce Cointreau
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • Glass: coupe
  • Garnish: orange twist

Fill a coupe with ice to chill. To an ice-filled shaker, add all ingredients and shake for about 15 seconds. Empty coupe and strain cocktail into it. Garnish with an orange twist.