How to make an Errol Flynn

09 Apr

O to be in England, now that April’s there. I doubt Errol yearned his living like Browning, but for once Browning would be right as it is presently 7pm, 25 degrees (about 76 F) and ne’ry a cloud in the sky. This turns a girl’s thoughts to cocktails.

When Errol and Pat were in Rome in the 50s they met a charming young English girl called Diana Naylor-Leyland. She was not only charming but had a laser like intelligence and great poise and beauty. I can vouch for this because she was to become a beloved friend of my family.

Diana used to spend summers with us in Italy, and when I was old enough to drink – I think I was about 12 (only half joking) – she taught me how to make a fabulous and lethally ‘refreshing’ cocktail.

Diana, below, snapped by me in Italy


After I had expressed my appreciation, at both the taste and the effect, Diana informed me she had been taught to make it by Errol – and that it was his own invention. Naturally, yours truly fell at her delicately sandaled feet.

All those years ago, Errol had taken quite a shine to Diana. She lunched with him at various restaurants in Rome for about four months. However, Errol never once made a pass at her (she was a very well brought up, elegant and educated girl).

I asked Diana what she had though of Errol and she said, ‘He was not at all what I expected. Nothing like the ‘image.’ ‘

She remembered him as being rather shy, very polite, sweet and keen to Errol on about books and the Classics.

Pat liked Diana, too, and she was asked to become their social secretary. When Diana told her father, however, he reacted as most fathers would have done – boringly – and forbad it. But she continued to see Errol, before returning to England to get married. She was later to become the Countess of Wilton.

On to the drink. Errol’s aforementioned cocktail – which he had created himself – was a variation on the classic White Lady (he favoured variations on white ladies, as we know). Errol dispensed with the egg white nonsense and invented a cleaner, tarter and more masculine drink which was served in a martini glass.

Diana, who, like me, had been introduced to liquor at an early age  – used to imbibe it with him, and asked him for the recipe. After some coercion, she not only passed it down to me, but wrote it down. I blessed the piece of paper, and immediately christened the drink ‘The Errol Flynn.’

Below: Errol at a drinks party in Rome (with La Lollo), but with the wrong drink!

This is a cocktail to be taken very seriously. It is like being handed the original recipe for Nectar by a friend of Ares or Apollo. Making an Errol Flynn is an historic ritual and takes time, love and effort. But I promise that the results are more than worth it.

So here is Errol’s very own invention.

Ingredients (makes enough for two people)

3 large and juicy lemons and 1 small lime

Gin (Beefeater’s or Tanqueray)


You will also need Martini glasses that have been in chilled in the freezer, a measuring jug and a proper cocktail shaker.



Squeeze lemons and lime and strain the juice. Pour the juice into the measuring jug.

Add an equal amount of Gin to the jug and stir.

Add an equal amount of Cointreau and stir.

Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the mixture. Shake until the shaker is so iced over that you are screaming in pain.

Pour the contents of the shaker (without adding any ice) into the chilled glasses and drink immediately. Then have another (preferably with a cigarette).

Do not ever add an olive or a twist. This cocktail, like Errol, is a Rolls Royce and needs no embellishment.

However, pistachio nuts, Sicilian olives or wild boar salami go very well with this drink as nibbles.








— PW


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    April 10, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Meraviglioso, Petronella! Grazie mille! I’ll chill the glasses asap, toss out the egg whites (but not the white ladies), and search for some fresh wild boar.

    Here’s Errol and Howard getting ready to make some salami.


    P.S. See that, PW, you leave London, and Big Ben goes on strike/not stricken. No more bonging for Big Ben while you’re gone.


    • PW

      April 10, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Grazie a te. Did Errol cure his own boar?

      Incidentally, what is the scholarship on Errol’s broader taste in wines and liquor?

      Did he have a cellar at Mullholland? Was he a wine buff, or did he stick to the harder stuff?

      Did he ever drink soft drinks, and if so, which ones?

      I would love to do a book called ‘Drink Like Flynn’

      • Gentleman Tim

        April 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

        I’ll drink to that great idea, PW.

        Toward your broader research, I ought report and applaud Boardner’s, one of my favorite Hollywood watering holes, where they poured Flynn beer, and Fields Coca-Cola. An LA landmark, and still a swell place to swill. … And (of possibly especial interest for you, PW) a couple of notable Hungarian connections – through both its original (“Bodnar”) ownership, and its legendary “Hungarian ‘Dodge City’ Brawl”.

        Here is a tremendous history of Boardner’s, and the times it has lived through:…


      • Gentleman Tim

        April 11, 2017 at 10:38 am

        Rumor is that Errol mixed up his own special gin cocktail/concoctions at The Hollywood Roosevelt.
        … Before he drank “potato whiskey”, he drank gin.

        (Rumor is he also still occasionally haunts this old haunt of his.)


      • Gentleman Tim

        April 11, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        And there was “The Martini Special”, made especially for Errol by legendary Habana cantinero Fabio Delgado Fuentes.

        I believe Errol also likely imbibed from time to time on the famous Daquiri No. 1, with Bacardi.…


      • Gentleman Tim

        April 11, 2017 at 7:55 pm

        And the legendary mojitos I imagine at Errol’s “Best place to get drunk”:


        • Gentleman Tim

          April 11, 2017 at 8:29 pm

          Don’t know where exactly this photo of Errol in Cuba was snapped Errol, but Errol did drink Bloody Marys, and he looks like he might have earned one.


      • Gentleman Tim

        April 11, 2017 at 8:51 pm

        The Smokeouse in Burbank is now famously associated with George Clooney and Best Picture Winner (Not) “LA LA Land”. According to its head barman from the Forties, Errol “introduced” (not invented) the Bloody Mary there. He said Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Jack Carson, and Dennis Morgan, used to drink there regularly when filming at Warner Bros., only a quarter mile away.

        One of the Smokehouse scenes from LA LA Land:…


      • Gentleman Tim

        April 12, 2017 at 9:16 am

        According to Authur Kennedy, Errol kept a case of bourbon in his dressing room during his Desperate Journey era. He would share and drink this bourbon with his costars and buddies, including Ronald Reagan. To Flynn’s chagrin, Reagan was reportedly unwilling and/or unable to imbibe with the big boys, apparently at least once getting caught dumping his share in a studio cuspidor.


  2. Gentleman Tim

    April 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Champagne and cheers for Countess Diana, PW.

    I’m not sure what champagne Errol appears to be having with these lucky ladies, but I seem to recall him drinking Veuve Clicquot in Europe.



  3. Gentleman Tim

    April 12, 2017 at 9:39 am

    According to Difford’s Guide (to Great Drinkers), Errol also used to drink Johnnie Walker.


  4. Gentleman Tim

    April 12, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    As suggested by the first photo below, Errol partied hearty with Bacardi. The rum-making giant had a very powerful presence before Castro seized control of the country and distillery. Their majestic, bat-topped, Art Deco international headquarters towered over downtown Havana, as depicted in the second photo below. Errol would have known it well, seeing it on his way to and fro, and in and out, of one of his favorites, La Floridita.



    • Gentleman Tim

      April 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm


      Bacardi Tower, Habana, with the “Good Fortune” Fruit Bat ornament at its pinnicle.

  5. Gentleman Tim

    April 12, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Though we know Errol came to favor vodka, he certainly didn’t limit himself to it. As recorded in Tom McNulty’s masterwork, “Errol Flynn: The Life and Career”:

    “Nor was vodka his sole source of liquid inspiration. He would drink practically anything, and included Guinness Stout as another favorite. “It’s good for the gonads,” Flynn said—a potential advertising slogan the good people at the Guinness …”


    • PW

      April 12, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      You are quite amazing, Gentleman Gin. You had better write the forward to this book.

      Seriously, in the past few years there have been quite a few books on famous drinkers, including one called ‘Gone With The Gin.’ But Errol needs his very own volume.

      I am very interested in what you say about his introducing the Bloody Mary to LA, as that is traditionally more of a cold weather drink as well as the classic hangover cure.

      Diana used to drink hers with vodka and Clamato, not tomato juice. I do the same, as I find tomato juice a bit heavy. Do you know when Clamato was invented? If it was around in Errol’s day, I bet he tried it.

      I also wonder if he ever had a Bullshot? That is a very English drink for when Saturday night guests have to be peeled off the carpet on Sunday morning. It is one of those concoctions that would have put hairs on Gandhi’s chest.

      A Bullshot consists of four shots of beef consommé, a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and lemon, and two large shots of vodka. It is drunk straight up with ice.

      I would also like to know if Errol enjoyed claret? Did he drink Lafitte? Latour?

      Did he like good whites? Or did not care much for ‘fine wines’?

      About to make an Aperol Spritz. That is an excellent ‘long’ drink or aperitivo. Prosecco, a shot of Aperol, a touch of sparkling water and a lot of ice.


      • PW

        April 12, 2017 at 7:02 pm

        Incidentally, you have caught me on the hops, as it were.

        WHAT was the legendary Hungarian ‘Dodge City’ Brawl?!!

        • Gentleman Tim

          April 12, 2017 at 9:34 pm

          Re: The Hungarian “Dodge City” Boardner’s Brawl:

          “ [t]he most memorable was in the early ’80s, when a brawl resembling the saloon fight in (Errol Flynn’s) Dodge City erupted between two groups of Hungarians employed across the street in competing phone-sales boiler rooms.”



          • Gentleman Tim

            April 12, 2017 at 9:35 pm

            Here’s the original:

      • Gentleman Tim

        April 12, 2017 at 8:37 pm

        I don’t know the answer to most of these questions, PW, but it will be fun and enlightening trying to find out, I’m sure. Errol being Errol I would think he tasted all the best of the best. With regard to fine wines, Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers reports that Errol was a fan, and would bring fine wines with him to locations where upscale wine and liquor stores did not exist.

        I know from personal experience that Clamato is very popular among the Mexican population, both in Southern Calfornia, and South of the Border. From what I’ve seen South of the Border, where Errol often drank, even more so than tomato juice in “Bloody Marys”
        (aka Bloody Caesars). We say tomato, they say Clamato. They also often mix it with cervesa, creating what I believe is sometimes called – perfect for this week – sangre de cristo.

        The name brand Clamato postdates Errol, I believe, but I suspect Mexican beach communities (especially) were likely making equivalent or very similar concoctions when Errol frequented Baja, Mazatlan, and Acapulco, et al, with fresh clams (and possibly other shellfish.)

      • Gentleman Tim

        April 12, 2017 at 10:13 pm

        Per the Van Nuys News, February 9, 1968:

        Dick Anske, [20-year] chief bartender at Smoke House, claims he remembers when Errol Flynn, Jack Carson, Dennis Morgan and Ann Sheridan dined there daily while relaxing from their motion picture chores across the street at Warner Bros. Anske has mixed favorite drinks for such assorted names as Rex Harrison (very dry Martini), (Petula?) Clark (gin and bitters), Efrem Zimbalist (scotch and water), Jerry Lewis (bourbon on the rocks), Phil Harris (Martini), [and] Dean Martin (Rob Roy). He insists that Errol Flynn introduced the Bloody Mary, a drink Anske had never heard of until Flynn popped in one day, listed the ingredients and said, “Gang up on them, old boy.”

  6. Gentleman Tim

    April 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Though I have not yet found conclusive proof of what Errol drank during his travels through New Guinea, PW, I have found evidence in “Young Errol Flynn” that those he ran with drank (and apparently regularly got “roaring drunk” on) “brandy and soda”, “whiskey”, and “beer”. I imagine Errol did the same – likely with far more energy, enthusiasm, humor, dedication, humor, character and class, than any of his running mates (just as he did in Hollywood, and everywhere else he explored around the globe.)


  7. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2017 at 1:06 am

    And it’s been said that Errol would polish off some Polish Zubrowka on occasion.


  8. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Then, of course, Errol would sometimes employ and enjoy orange flavored vodka, a trick he may have learned from Annie “The Oomph Girl” Sheridan.


    Teenage guys and gals in Galway may have adopted this trick from Flynn, turning into a bunch of “baby Errol Flynns”.…

  9. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Is that Courvoisier Errol and Beverly are swilling at the old Lido Club of London on Swallow Street?


  10. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2017 at 11:03 am

    It was rare vodka with red pepper at the Savoy:

    Errol’s Barman at “London’s Most Famous Hotel”


  11. David DeWitt

    April 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Our dear departed friend Dennis Mullen, Flynn aficionado and traveler in many of Errol’s footsteps, posted this on his old site In Search of Errol Flynn …

    The Tasmanian
    4 oz Smirnoff Vodka
    2 oz Schweppes Tonic Water
    1 twist of Lime
    (Chilled glass with ice. No umbrella.)

    Jamaica Reef
    4 oz Jamaican Rum
    2 oz Cola
    1 twist of Lime
    (Chilled glass with ice. No umbrella.)

    Cuba Story
    4 oz Habana Club Rum
    2 oz Cola
    1 twist of Lime (Chilled glass with ice. No umbrella.)


  12. Gentleman Tim

    April 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Cheerio and grazie mille, Petronella! ‘The Errol Flynn’ fully lived up to your billing, and beyond, even exceeding my exceedingly-high expectations for it. It’s my new favorite. As Ava said, Flynn had class, real class.

    I must confess, however, PW, that I am without Tangueray or Beefeater at my current location. Therefore – in order not to delay enjoyment of this Errolean/Petronellean work of art on this majestically beautiful Easter Sunday in Florida – I forged ahead with Bombay Sapphire (which worked out quite well, though I know it’s lighter on the juniper!) When I make it back to command central, I will taste with Tangueray … and then Beefeater … and then, in a salute to Senior Fleen’s fabulous days in Old Habana, with a bottle of Boodles. (Perhaps, too, with some Orange Fool, a la Pall Mall.)(Btw, though the Bombay Sapphire wasn’t around in Errol’s day, and it doesn’t pack a heavy juniper punch, it does have a Very Big cinematic connection to his one-time friend Mary Pickford, in that it’s named after her Very Big – 182-carat Star of Bombay (which I once saw in The Smithsonian, I believe), given to America’s Sweetheart – The Girl with the Curls -by none other than th other great Robin Hood of Hollywood, Douglas Fairbanks!)

    Muchas, muchas gracias, Lady P! I will be drinking this (like Flynn) from here forward.

    P.S. P.W. is the recipe for this wondrous new drink to remain a secret for now, or may I introduce it on your behalf at Errol’s favorite old haunts and watering holes here in F..L.A. – at the Boca Raton Cloisters Bar, Cap’s Place, the old Delray Arcade, along Worth Avenue (Taboo, et al), and on Miami Beach.



  13. shangheinz

    April 16, 2017 at 7:28 pm


    It wasn’t beneath for Errol to drink Italian wine while in Courmayeur donning the pants of William Tell. Co-star Mrs. Waltraut Haas also remembered him downing Rum and Coca Cola and gobbling sardines out of a can.

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 17, 2017 at 1:05 am

      shangheinz! I was worried you were shanghaied in Tangiers, or perhaps on a long lost weekend as a consequence of “Drinkin’ Like Flynn” per Petronella’s inside tip that we give The Errol Flynn a spin or three.

      Whatever the case, welcome back, old boy!

      I’m glad it wasn’t Goodnight Vienna for you!


      • shangheinz

        April 17, 2017 at 6:34 am


        No worries, Gentlemate Tim. I haven’t taken to the demijohn either. I have just been gathering ingredients for an Errol Special. Thanks for tending the EF Bar in the meantime, Tim & Ella!

  14. Gentleman Tim

    June 2, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Hi Petronella. Here’s a great photo of Errol in Italy, dated September 16, 1953. Does this date match up with Diana’s time working for Errol? And could this possibly be a correct glass to use with The Errol Flynn? (Is it perhaps a gin and tonic glass, as depicted below?)…


    P.S. Have now tried The Errol Flynn with Tangueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire, with Tangueray and Beefeater still contending for first place, with more competitions required. … As an update, I have dutifully imbibed at several of Errol’s hallowed haunts in South Florida, without disclosing The Errol Flynn name, history, or origin.

  15. Gentleman Tim

    June 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

    It was Jack Roses and Moselle 21 at ’21’, PW … at least while the “Scottish grouse” were shipped in fresh – knowing Errol, probably not long after the Glorious Twelfth.



  16. Tony

    June 27, 2017 at 3:28 pm


    I can’t tell you how excited I am to have learned this cocktail recipe. I’ll try it out the first chance I get. Thanks again!

    • Gentleman Tim

      July 8, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Looks like Errol may have drank Jack Roses at the Mocambo, too!


  17. Tony

    July 7, 2017 at 2:05 am

    I’m drinking it as I write this. It’s a very good cocktaio. Doesn’t taste like gin, or CCointreau, or lemmon and lime juice. Komes togter nicelee.

    • Gentleman Tim

      July 9, 2017 at 12:01 am

      “I’m drinking it as I write this. It’s a very good cocktaio. Doesn’t taste like gin, or CCointreau, or lemmon and lime juice. Komes togter nicelee.”

      PW’s Errol Flynn had the same effect on me, Tony!


  18. Gentleman Tim

    July 14, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Here’s some more on the Jack Rose, Petronella!…

  19. Gentleman Tim

    November 22, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Errol may well have had a Vancouver ot two in Vancouver, though it was not likely his last drank, as one story goes:…

    Other stories go even further:…

  20. Gentleman Tim

    November 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Errol may well have had a Vancouver or two during his various stays in Vancouver, Petronella, but not likely in all the over-shaken-and-stirred ways recounted in the link below!…

    • Gentleman Tim

      November 22, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      This is where Errol most likely drank his last Vancouver, the Sylvia Hotel, on English Bay, beside Stanley Park.


      • David DeWitt

        December 17, 2017 at 12:55 am

        I have spent many days in Vancouver over the years, going back to childhood visits with my parents to Stanley Park and saw the Cricket Fields where Errol played with the Hollywood Cricket Club. Even found the spot the club took a group photo – and walked the halls of the Sylvia Hotel many times. I ventured to the beach in front of the hotel as young Errol must have done and walked along the shoreline to the inclined street leading to 1310 Burnaby St. where Errol was struck by his massive heart attack. Yet according to reports he did not actually die there in the back bedroom of the smallish apartment building that still stands on that quiet street but in the ambulance on the way to the hospital in an unresponsive state, but more befiiting his restless nature, on the move, racing away to his last great adventure …

  21. Gentleman Tim

    January 6, 2018 at 10:31 am

    If the following account is correct, Petronella, Errol may have tanked up on tequila south of the border,. Perhaps he even did some modelling and radio jingles for Herradura down there, too!! (Phil and Bing would be proud.)…