A gin cooler named for a musical comedy which opened in London in 1899 and ran for more than 450 performances. It then came across the pond and played on Broadway for another 552. That was one popular musical. In no small part due to the Florodora Girls, a sextet of “tall. gorgeous damsels” who “swished onto the stage and captivated New York for no other reason then they were utterly stunning.” W.A. Swanberg, the American biographer, claimed that “each member of its original sextette married a millionaire.”
I first stumbled across this drink in the 1931 Old Waldorf Bar Days. There are a plethora of recipes for this drink, but they are all, for the most part, a combination of gin, raspberry, lime, and ginger (usually ginger ale or ginger beer).The earliest version I can find comes from Straub’s Manual, 1913, where he gives two versions: the Floradora Cooler and the Floradora Imperial Style, which exchanges brandy for the gin and leaves out the raspberry. The drink surely predates Straub’s 1913 printing if he is already including a variation. Subsequent recipes by other bartenders tend to follow his cooler version. Below is a slight variation of the Waldorf recipe which upped the gin to a respectable level. Straub’s was a miserly ½ ounce.
Floradora Cocktail (It is interesting that all of the old recipes get the name wrong)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
½ tsp sugar (optional)
½ oz Raspberry Syrup
2 oz Gin
Frappé (shake very hard with cracked ice) first four ingredients and strain into a chilled 8 oz tumbler with a couple of ice cubes. Top off with ginger beer. Serve with two straws and a lime wedge.
You want this drink very cold, so shake it hard as you can without throwing it all over the place. The original recipes call for ginger ale, but I much prefer the spicier ginger beer which imparts a more satisfying complexity to the drink. Ginger ale can be used instead of ginger beer, but it will loose that ginger sharpness and will be much sweeter. Some ginger ales now use artificial sweeteners which are ghastly, so read the label carefully.
Raspberry liqueur is sometimes used in modern recipes instead of the syrup and would certainly be worth trying.