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The Floradora is a classic cocktail that you might not know, but you should know because it is a truly fabulous (and rather sexy) gin drink. It is semi-sweet, tall and refreshing, and beautifully pink. One might even call the Floradora the 'original girly drink.'
The cocktail was named after the first Broadway musical hit in the 1900's. The name was originally spelled 'Florodora' following the stage name and the cocktail was a hit among New York's high society straight through the 50s.
Originally, the drink was made with raspberry syrup, but now uses framboise liqueur (raspberry-flavored) almost exclusively. There are a number of raspberry liqueurs available, with Chambord (black raspberry) being the most common poured into today's Floradora cocktails.
Pour the gin, lime juice, and framboise into a highball glass filled with ice.
Top with ginger ale.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
The Story of the Floradora Cocktail
To understand the history of the cocktail, one must look to the theater. If you thought that only modern movies have inspired drinks in the bar, then you would be surprised to find out that it's not a new practice.
Prior to Prohibition and at the turn of the 20th century, stage productions on Broadway were the highlight of fashionable society. As Eric Felton notes in his book "How's Your Drink?," a New York Times article in 1913 quotes a maitre d' as saying the women "insist on having new cocktails made, and they have to be named after something that interests them."
"Florodora" was a comedy musical that made its debut at the Lyric Theatre in London in 1899. It is filled with dancing and a cast of six very beautiful women. It made its American debut at the New York City's Casino Theater in 1900 and ran for an amazing 505 performances.
The musical quickly became the talk of the town, complete with critics calling it "filthy" and one that "no decent person would think of visiting." It's said that wealthy men would attend performances in hopes of attracting the attention of one of the dancing beauties, and many did.
Fun Fact: It's said that to be considered for a role as a Florodora girl, a woman must be a brunette or red head, weigh no more than 130 pounds, and be 5 foot 4 inches. It's quite the contrast from today's chorus girls.
A total of 70 women cycled through the six chorus line roles of the play throughout its productions at the Casino and other venues. They were known as 'The Florodora Sextette' and 'The English Girls.'
Many of the dancers used the production as a catalyst for marrying into wealth and were quite successful in this endeavor. This explains the high turnaround, which show producers eventually put a halt to by preventing the women from fraternizing with the crowd after performances.
It was only natural given the resounding success of "Florodora" and high society's request for new theater-themed cocktails, that the Floradora cocktail was born. It has that seductive sweetness and high-style that would appeal to this crowd and the pink color fits perfectly with the theme.
The cocktail continued to appear in many bartending books through most of the century and has seen a revival in this new century. The Floradora truly is a stunning drink and the story only makes it that much more interesting.
How Strong is the Floradora?
Depending on how tall your glass is, the Floradora can be a very light cocktail, which adds to its appeal for many women. With Chambord, an 80-proof gin, and a 4-ounce pour of ginger ale, it is a delicate 9% ABV (18 proof).