Friday, October 24, 2008

Drinking history: The Clover Club Cocktail

Pity the poor Clover Club cocktail. Going from a mainstay of any self respecting early 20th century drinking man's repertoire to becoming the Cosmo of it's day. This was a traditional tipple of turn-of-the-(last) century cocktail culture, mentioned in cocktail books going back to 1911, and ordered by a person described thusly 55 years ago in Jack Townsend's The Bartender's Book (thanks to Cocktail Chronicles): "The Clover Club drinker is traditionally a gentleman of the pre-Prohibition school. He may not necessarily be one of the legal, literary, or business figures who were members of the club of that name. He may never have been in the bar of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia where the Clover Club members foregathered and the drink originated. But he belongs with that set." From that to the favored drink of post-WWII Carrie Bradshaw's?! How could such a thing happen?

That's what I set out to find, when in a fit of election news induced thirst (probably after listening to Ms. Civics Lesson, Sarah Palin try to describe what the vice-president does, and failing miserably...again). And being secure enough in my masculinity not to be threatened about being a Gilded Age sissy, I grabbed the requisite tools of cocktail investigation, the most important being a bottle of gin and a cocktail shaker, and delved into the mystery. Some gin was spilled, eggs were cracked, citrus was squeezed, and there was a certain amount of straining done to come to the conclusion that the forgotten, formerly respected then spurned Clover Club Cocktail is one kick ass concoction! The Cosmo of its day? Maybe, but it is a great cocktail for our day! I can't wait to make this for friends. Rich with body from the egg white, with a nice balanced sweet-tart flavor, I dare you not to like this one!
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Clover Club Cocktail
adapted from Jason Wilson/The Washington Post

There are innumerable recipes for the Clover Club available. I liked the sound of this one from Jason Wilson, the Post's spirits columnist. I also read others where raspberry syrup (like Torani or Monin) can be subbed for the grenadine. I also would play around with the citrus ratio. But all in all, this was a pretty damn tasty drink as is! -bb

1 serving

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce grenadine (4 dashes)
Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (2 tablespoons)
1 large raw egg white

Fill a tall mixing glass two-thirds with ice. Add the gin, grenadine, lemon juice and raw egg white. Shake vigorously for 30 to 60 seconds to form a good froth. Strain into a martini glass and serve immediately.


Matthew said...

I heartily agree that the Clover Club is a needlessly maligned classic. And not to get all cocktail-purist on you, but I think you'll find it's even better with homemade grenadine than with Rose's! Take a look here for processes:

bb said...

Matthew, I feel like such a fraud with my Rose's after reading about the homemade stuff. And it's so easy! Thanks for sharing. I've gotta go now and crop that fucking Rose's out of that picture.....

Anonymous said...

BB: The gin and egg whites in this recipe got me off on a tangent: Have you ever tried a Ramos Fizz? Gabe the bartender from the late, great Henry Ford's (RIP) called it "what you drank during brunch if you lived in San Francisco in the '60's." The only BT I know of that can make these from memory in SE would be Ron at Springwater Grill. It's definitely an acquired taste, but still a lot of fun-- egg white, gin, OJ, cream-- it's breakfast in a glass, basically.

Germany is a bit of a cocktail backwaters, but with 1270 breweries(?!?) in the country, the beer is pretty top-notch. Hope all is well in PDX.

Gregg Z.

bb said...

GZ...good to hear from you. Hope all is well in whatever beer-stube you're hanging out in! Say hi to BZ for me!
And i LOVE the Ramos of my favorite brunch drinks. Really perfect in the morning...although not EVERY morning! I'll check out the Springwater version soon. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Dood, while rocking the Ramos Fizz, you absolutely MUST try Ron's Mojito's at Springwater too. This BT has the best in town, hands down-- and I've done plenty of field research :)

Will try the Clover here though-- your cocktail radar is second to none, and I'm still spreading the gospel of the Negroni thanks to you. B says hi, and have a good tasting tonite!


Drinks with Jöhnny Dîablø said...

The Clover Club is definitely a forgotten about cocktail that appears to be making a little bit of a comeback. Maybe it is nostalgia, but this drink really kicks ass! I tried it for the first time a few months ago, and I am down for knocking these back anytime. To me, it tastes like a lemon meringue pie. (A pink lemonade meringue pie?) At any rate, mixology at the turn of the last century still has a lot to teach us.