The Story Behind The London Fog

There are many cocktails named after the weather or time of day they visually emulate. The Tequila Sunrise and Dark ‘n’ Stormy immediately come to mind, but a lesser talked-about example takes us to a notoriously rainy and perennially overcast European city: the London Fog, a “hair of the dog” cocktail of gin and absinthe with a hue as murky as its origins.

While we can’t say who invented the drink, it was first documented in Lucius Beebe’s “The Stork Club Bar Book” in 1946 under a section titled “Morning.” Of the cocktail’s “hair of the dog” potential, Beebe writes, “If in a word the entire human person resembles nothing so much as what the author of this volume’s first city editor, Norton Pratt of the Boston Telegram used to define as ‘a basket of busted bungholes,’ Burgess Meredith has a cure for it. It’s called ‘London Fog.’” Meredith wasn’t a bartender, nor did he claim to invent the London Fog. He was actually an accomplished actor best known for his role playing “the Penguin” in 21 episodes of the “Batman” TV series in the late ‘60s. Unfortunately, Meredith is no longer with us, and where he first encountered the cocktail remains a mystery.

At the time of “The Stork Club Bar Book’s” publication, Beebe was living in NYC, writing a column for the “New York Herald Tribune” called “This New York” in which he wrote about the happenings at swanky restaurants and nightclubs across Manhattan, including — of course — the legendary Stork Club. In its own right, the Stork Club’s history is nothing short of spectacular. Allegedly, the owner of the Hope Diamond once lost the precious stone there under a table during a raucous night out. And on another occasion, Ernest Hemingway supposedly cashed in a $100,000 check for the film rights of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at Stork to settle his staggering bar tab. Despite its folklore and apparent popularity, the Stork Club closed for good in 1965.

The London Fog, on the other hand, has lived on, though many modern interpretations couldn’t be further from the original. A quick Google search of the drink will yield a slew of Earl Grey tea and vanilla-infused cocktails, which draw inspiration from the Canadian-born London Fog Latte of the mid-‘90s. And while those riffs may be delicious, the assertive gin and absinthe blend is the original, and as Beebe puts it, “is among the more heroic remedies” for a morning after partying. Beebe’s recipe specifically calls for Pernod’s absinthe, which is widely available, but any brand will do. For the gin, it would be remiss not to employ a London Dry. Given the cocktail’s booze-forward build, a substantial amount of dilution is necessary, but refrain from shaking for too long as to not drown out its potent profile.


  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • ¼ ounce absinthe
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.
  2. Shake until chilled, no more than 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into a double rocks glass over crushed ice.
  4. Express a lemon twist over the cocktail, and garnish.

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Yield: 1
Calories: 132
Updated: 2024-04-25

The London Fog