bessie mae cocktail

Bessie Mae cocktail recipe by Vesper Bar at The Dorchester

07 Mar 2024 | Updated on: 14 Mar 2024 |By Annie Lewis

In celebration of International Women's Day, we spoke to The Dorchester's female bartenders about the bestselling Elizabeth Taylor-inspired cocktail: Bessie Mae

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024, it only felt appropriate to find a cocktail inspired by a woman and created by a woman. And that’s how we found ourselves in The Dorchester‘s Vesper Bar, sampling its elegant and fruity Bessie Mae cocktail – a work of mixology art created by head bartender Denise Elisei, and bar manager Lucia Montanelli, to pay homage to one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses that often stayed at the five-star hotel: Elizabeth Taylor.

It was at this Grand Dame that Taylor received the call confirming her lead role in Cleopatra, it was where Cecil Beaton shot her, and where she celebrated landmark birthdays, such as her 31st and her husband Richard Burton’s 50th birthday. So when The Dorchester overhauled its original space to create the Vesper Bar – designed by Martin Brudnizki to celebrate the hotel’s 1930s origins in gold and baby-blue hues – it only felt right to concoct a recipe celebrating Taylor, who stayed at the Mayfair hotel no fewer than 37 times.

Featuring guava and kumquat notes alongside coconut rum, the cocktail appears pink in colour which was important to Elisei when she concocted the recipe. “The actress was a regular guest at The Dorchester and always stayed in her favourite room: the Harlequin suite. The standout feature of this suite is the pink marble bathroom which Taylor personally requested back in the Sixties,” she explains. “She was sitting in that tub when she learned she had scored the role in Cleopatra!” Here’s how to make the Bessie Mae cocktail at home.


Bessie Mae


  • Ceylon Arrack 20ml
  • Aluna coconut rum 15ml
  • Fennel flower liquor 10ml
  • Amaro Santoni 10ml
  • Guava/kumquat cordial 35ml


  1. Shake all ingredients together and serve in a martini coupe.

RICHARD BRENDON Small Fluted Coupe

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