Between The Sheets

Difford's Guide
User Rating (107 ratings)

Serve in a

Coupe glass

Garnish:

Lemon zest twist

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

3/4 fl oz Bacardi Carta Blanca light rum
3/4 fl oz Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac
3/4 fl oz Triple sec liqueur (40%)
1/6 fl oz Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Loading...

Read about cocktail measures and measuring.

Buy direct from
the_whisky_exchange store logo
£ -.--

Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.

Review:

Classic proportions to this drink are most often quoted as being:
30ml (1oz) Light rum
30ml (1oz) Cognac brandy
30ml (1oz) Triple sec liqueur
7.5ml (¼oz) Lemon juice

That's three full shots of 40% liquor and a splash of lemon juice which makes for a punchy cocktail that's just a touch on the tart side. My recipe uses a more manageable 67.5ml (2¼oz) of liquor (25% less) whilst maintaining the classic proportions with just a smidgen less citrus (33% less). If you like a tart Between The Sheets then use a touch more lemon juice. [Forgive the pun!]

A Between The Sheets isn't necessarily dry gin + rum + triple sec and of the three versions that span this cocktail's history:
No. 1. Dry gin + Light white rum + Triple sec + Lemon juice
No. 2. Brandy + Dry gin + Triple sec + Lemon juice
No. 3. Brandy + Light white rum + Triple sec + Lemon juice
My own preference is for No. 1, then No. 2, and lastly No. 3, the last being the combination of base spirits that have become standard for this cocktail.

As is so often the case, the original (No.1) is the best. To experience all three versions, maintain the three equal parts plus 5ml (1 barspoon) lemon juice proportions whilst switching base spirits.

History:

Between The Sheets probably originated as a gin and rum-based cocktail (during Prohibition) in America and then travelled to Europe where brandy was used in place of gin to make it more Sidecar-like. Although, this theory is upset by those who cite a Mr Polly of London's Berkeley Hotel as having created this cocktail in 1921.

Timeline: Between The Sheets first appeared in print in Frank Shay's 1929 Drawn From The Wood with a recipe that calls for gin rather than brandy.

BETWEEN THE SHEETS
(Make one for the lady too)
One part Gin
One part Bacardi
One part Cointreau
Ice, shake and strain

Frank Shay, 1929

The cocktail then pops up in a 3rd October 1930 New York Day By Day column by O. O. M'Intyre in the The Akron Beacon Journal where he mentions "The speakeasy famous for "Between-the-Sheets" cocktails" but frustratingly doesn't name the speakeasy or provide any description of the cocktail.

In his 1954 book, My 35 Years Behind Bars, American bartender Johnny Brooks claims to have created the cocktail while working at another Prohibition speakeasy in New Rochelle, New York.

Harry MacElhone of Harry's New York Bar in Paris is also said to have created this cocktail but it's more likely that he merely switched gin for brandy.

In his 1939 The Gentleman's Companion,(Volume II), the globetrotting drinks writer, Charles H. Baker, recounts an afternoon escaping "Arab-Jewish riots... in Christianity's own heart city." Baker found respite in the "almost Egyptian-looking sanctum" of the luxurious King David Hotel where he enjoyed a Between the Sheets made by a bartender named Weber and copied the recipe from his bar book.

Weber's Between the Sheets recipe, calls for equal parts "cognac, Cointreau, dry gin and lemon juice" and Baker says, "Like the American Side Car, and other truly worthwhile cocktails this invention is totally sound, and is already quite famous throughout the Near East." Tellingly, at the back of his book, where he talks about ingredients, for Cointreau, he says, "it is one of the six favourite liqueurs of the world, but is indicated in several very important cocktails like between the sheets."

Differing split-base spirits: As Harman Burney Burke illustrates in his 1936 Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes there were competing versions of this cocktail with different pairings of base spirits. And thanks to Charles H. Baker we know that at least until 1939 the equal parts dry gin, brandy, triple sec, and lemon juice version remained popular, certainly "throughout the Near East."

As with so many vintage cocktails, the equal parts brandy, rum and triple sec recipe favoured today is much influenced by Harry Craddock's seminal 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book, bolstered by "Cocktail Bill" Boothby's World Drinks and How to Prepare Them published the same year.

The various recipes above document three different versions of Between The Sheets and I suspect each had their moment dominating the others in this order:
No. 1. Dry gin + Light white rum + Triple sec + Lemon juice
No. 2. Brandy + Dry gin + Triple sec + Lemon juice
No. 3. Brandy + Light white rum + Triple sec + Lemon juice

BETWEEN-THE-SHEETS COCKTAIL.
1 Dash Lemon Juice.
1/3 Brandy.
1/3 Cointreau.
1/3 Bacardi Rum.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Harry Craddock, 1930

BETWEEN THE SHEETS NO. 1
1 Brandy
1 Dry Gin
1 Curacao
Lemon Juice, 2 Dashes
Ice. –25 Shakes. Strain and serve.

BETWEEN THE SHEETS NO. 2
1 Brandy
1 Rum
1 Cointreau
Lemon Juice, 2 Dashes
Ice. –25 Shakes. Strain and serve.

Harman Burney Burke, 1936

JERUSALEM'S BETWEEN the SHEETS, from the Bar Book of Weber at the King David
Like the American Side Car, and other truly worthwhile cocktails this invention is totally sound, and is already quite famous throughout the Near East. We ran into it one dank day of sleet and rain in early January, just after the first Arab-Jewish riots which started with a murder of a poor old man stoned to death in a Haifa melon patch, between halves of a soccer match! And had just reached a climax beside the Dome of the Rock mosque – which has religious significance to both Arab and Jew, and unfortunately overhangs the famous Jewish Walling Wall. We won't go int the politics of the thing, but it was a nasty mess, with British Tommies in the streets finally, and machine guns and barbed wire entanglements – all the modern civilized show. . . . We were disillusioned at all this wholesale murder in Christianity's own heart city, sad at the sight of a fifteen year old Arab girl – the daughter of a fine Arab friend – crushed under a heavy slab of masonry tossed from a rooftop as she returned from workshop after the end of Ramadan – the Mohammedan Easter – and we were wearied at the thought of the dawn knives, the murder from ambush which would follow all this blood debt throughout Palestine. We had both sinuses pounding, were coming down with definitely something, as well – when in the weird, almost Egyptian-looking sanctum of the King David Weber took charge; first with a hot rum toddy, then – on evidence of renewed life – with the following origination.
Of cognac Cointreau, dry gin and lemon juice–strained–take equal parts. Shake briskly with lots of cracked ice and serve in a Manhattan glass. Cut down the Cointreau to make "dry," to taste.

Charles H. baker, Jr., 1939

Nutrition:

One serving of Between The Sheets contains 150 calories.

Alcohol content:

  • 1.5 standard drinks
  • 29.41% alc./vol. (58.82° proof)
  • 21.3 grams of pure alcohol
Difford's Guide remains free-to-use thanks to the support of the brands in green above. Values stated for alcohol and calorie content, and number of drinks an ingredient makes should be considered approximate.

Join the Discussion


... comment(s) for Between The Sheets

You must log in to your account to make a comment.

Report comment

You must be logged in to upvote or downvote a comment

Click here to login
Buy direct from
the_whisky_exchange store logo
£ -.--

Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.
Buy direct from
Difford's Guide
Difford's Easy Jigger
Difford's Easy Jigger
£11.21 £11.21 exc VAT

You must be logged in to submit a rating

Click here to login