Pauline Charteris Hindenburg Cocktail

I love cocktails as well as airships, so here is a drink in honor of the elegant Pauline Charteris and the Hindenburg in happier days.


The Story of this Cocktail

As the Hindenburg approached New York on its maiden voyage to America, on the first of its many successful transatlantic flights of the 1936 season, the passengers learned that the Hindenburg’s bar had run out of gin.

The staff of Hindenburg was well equipped to cater to German tastes — a typical dinner was pork and anchovy meatballs in caper sauce — but less equipped to satisfy Anglo-American desires.

Cocktails aboard the Hindenburg

Cocktails aboard the Hindenburg

In the absence of gin, but with an abundant supply of kirschwasser, passenger Pauline Charteris reacted to the emergency with panache and improvised a Kirschwasser Martini to the delight of her thirsty companions.

The dapper Leslie Charteris and the elegant Pauline

The dapper Leslie Charteris and the elegant Pauline

Pauline then led her fellow passengers in singing a new song she had just learned in Nassau: “Mama don’t want no gin because it would make her sin.” [video of song by Count Basie].

saint-logoPauline was the 24 year old wife of Leslie Charteris, the author who created Simon Templar — better known as The Saint — and in honor of Pauline I have created the Pauline Charteris Kirschwasser Cocktail.

There is no reliable documentation of the ingredients or proportions of Pauline’s actual Kirschwasser cocktail aboard the Hindenburg, so I have created what is more of a tribute than a recreation.

The Pauline Charteris Hindenburg Cocktail

  • 3 oz kirschwasser
  • A tad less than 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • A splash of Grenadine
  • Lemon peel*

(*A peel… just the oily skin… not a “twist” with the bitter white pith.)

Shake with ice, enough to make cold, but not enough to dilute too badly.


And remember, if things get too hot, JUMP!

(What?  Too soon?)


Update: A Finnish band has published a variation of this recipe which I have tried and describe on the blog.

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Pekka AkselinCarl SholinRod FleckKokteylBobby Kircher Recent comment authors
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Carl Sholin
Carl Sholin

Leslie Charteris looks like he had a few too many. Ha!

Rod Fleck
Rod Fleck

I had a bartender make this with an Austrian pear brandy as he didn’t have kirschwasser, and it was really great. I have a copy of this in my phone so I can ask when I get a chance to find a really well stocked bar. Still searching for that… Read more »


I tried, It’s so delicious. I learnt the history of this cocktail here too.

Bobby Kircher

This was a lip-smacking, delicious cocktail.

Patrick Russell

The von Meister report (or at least, the portions of it included in Duggan’s book) was a big surprise to me too, particularly the bit about Schulze not ever having heard of a Manhattan. This was a guy who had worked the steamship lines for years, and who specifically asked… Read more »

Patrick Russell

Nicely done!

Now if we could just dig up some idea of what was in the long-lost “Maybach 12”.

(Why, oh why, of all people, did the Hindenburg’s BARTENDER have to die at Lakehurst?!)

Dan (

Yes, I did wonder what Max Schulze would have thought of my creation. Although with all respect to the departed, his “LZ-129 Frosted Cocktail” didn’t sound terribly exciting (equal parts gin and orange juice — why?). And as you know, the January, 1937 memo written by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei’s American… Read more »

Pekka Akselin
Pekka Akselin

Maybe it was the “Aviation”, but with Kirchwasser instead of the Gin:
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