Between the Sheets is a classic 1920s cocktail drink recipe, and one of the earliest to have a risqué name, a long time before bartenders were offering their customers Sex on the Beach. It has similarities with, and shares a bit of its history with, both the Sidecar and the Maiden’s Prayer, which are all variations on a similar basic cocktail recipe.
Depending on which story you believe, it originated in 1920s London or 1930s Paris.
History of the Between the Sheets Cocktail
There are two main versions of the history of Between the Sheets. One is that it was created in the bar at the Berkeley Hotel in London in about 1921, and was invented by the manager, Mr Polly.
The other story credits the drink to a specific bartender in Paris, Harry MacElhone. MacElhone was an early bartending star. Born in Scotland, he got a job at a place called Ciro’s Club in London, where he was well-known enough to publish a book: Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails (1921).
What gives credence to this story is that MacElhone created several other cocktails that went on to become classics, like the Sidecar, the White Lady, the Old Pal, and even the Bloody Mary. The Between the Sheets is also thought of as a riff on the Sidecar recipe, which MacElhone included in his ABC of Mixing Cocktails book.
MacElhone was so successful that he was able to buy Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, and it’s here that he’s said to have come up with Between the Sheets. Incidentally, MacElhone’s descendants still run the bar today.
Between the Sheets a 1920s Drink Recipe
3 cl white rum
3 cl cognac
3 cl triple sec
2 cl fresh lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice cubes, shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Recipe and interesting information on this drink from Travel Distilled