A couple of days ago I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a gorgeous photo that my friend posted of a Clover Club cocktail and it immediately made me nostalgic for my life in NYC. I moved there just as the craft cocktail movement was beginning, and spent nearly 15 years patronizing amazing bars, lounges, and speakeasies, learning from the extremely talented mixologists who were changing the face of craft cocktails as we know it.
I remember when The Clover Club cocktail bar opened in Brooklyn back in 2008. At the time, Brooklyn wasn’t exactly where you went for a high-end cocktail experience. But then owner Julie Reiner and her partner, Tom Macy, came along and had a huge hand in changing that.
Reiner was already very well-known and respected in the Big Apple for opening Flatiron Lounge and Pegu Club, so the opening of The Clover Club was a highly anticipated event. And when it finally opened its doors, it brought with it a different kind of vibe than many of the cocktail joints that seemed to be taking over the city. It was the kind of place you knew was something special, but where you felt at home. And it didn't take long to become one of the most sought-after drink destinations in all of NYC.
This recipe comes directly from Clover Club cocktail Queen Julie Reiner herself (whom you might recognize from Netflix’s 2022 show “Drink Masters”). It’s the namesake of her now world-renowned cocktail bar and a drink that I think is perfect in every way. Sophisticated, fresh, and pretty to boot, trust me when I tell you that the Clover Club cocktail is a drink you want to make!
Clover Club Cocktail Description
The Clover Club Gin cocktail is a classic drink known for its sweet and tart flavor profile and its silky, frothy texture. Although many variations of it exist, a classic Clover Club cocktail almost always includes Gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and egg white. The egg white gives the drink its signature light and foamy texture, while the raspberry syrup adds a sweet and fruity note that balances out the tartness of the lemon juice.
Typically served in a chilled coupe or martini glass and garnished with a fresh raspberry or lemon twist, the Clover Club is a timeless classic that remains a beloved favorite among cocktail enthusiasts around the world.
Clover Club Cocktail History
The history of the Clover Club cocktail dates back to the late 1800s when a men’s social group comprised of politicians, businessmen, writers, and other influential figures of the time used to gather at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel to talk about the issues of the day. They called themselves the “Clover Club,” and it is this group who invented the Clover Club cocktail, which in turn became one of Philadelphia’s most important contributions to the world of mixology.
At first consumed almost exclusively by the men’s club, this classic cocktail quickly gained popularity around the turn of the century. Soon it found its way to New York when the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel recruited Bellevue-Stratford hotelier George Boldt as proprietor, who brought the Clover Club cocktail original recipe with him to the Big Apple. From there this pretty pink drink claimed its moment in time as demand for it spread across NYC, enjoyed in large part by the city’s elite.
Before long it became a staple in bars and restaurants throughout the United States. But then Prohibition hit, and like so many classic cocktails of the time, it all but disappeared for most of the 20th century.
Fortunately, in the early 2000s, the Clover Club cocktail experienced a renaissance, thanks in part to its appearance in contemporary cocktail books such as Gary Regan's "Joy of Mixology" and Dale DeGroff's "The Essential Cocktail." Reiner further fueled its resurgence when she named her renowned cocktail bar after it, solidifying its esteemed place in cocktail history. Today, the Clover Club cocktail remains a popular choice among cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders alike.
Clover Club Cocktail Ingredients
What’s in a Clover Club cocktail completely depends on the recipe you use and the flavors you prefer.
The first recipe for this pre-Prohibition cocktail appeared in print in the New York Press in 1901, which called for Gin, lemon juice, sugar, raspberry syrup, and egg white. Dry Vermouth got added to the recipe not too long after, and from there, countless Clover Club cocktail variations began to arise.
For example, some recipes called for lime juice instead of lemon juice or swapped out the raspberry syrup for other fruit syrups like strawberry, blackberry, or grenadine. Some bartenders experimented with spirits other than Gin or added herbs like mint as a garnish to give it a unique twist. And in more recent times, variations that omit the egg white altogether or use alternative frothing agents have come onto the scene.
However, modern-day Clover Club cocktail creator Julie Reiner went back to the raspberry syrup + Dry Vermouth recipe of old but gave this recipe a contemporary makeover. So for her Clover Club cocktail with fresh raspberries, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Gin: Plymouth Gin or another London Dry like Beefeater Gin are my usual go-to's for this drink
- Dry Vermouth: My favorite Vermouth in this cocktail is Dolin Vermouth
- Fresh lemon juice
- Egg white
How to make a Clover Club Cocktail
For fans of the cocktails, the Clover Club cocktail is a must-try. With these few easy steps, you can enjoy this timeless tipple from the comfort of your own home:
- Start by adding all the ingredients, including ice, to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake the mixture vigorously until it becomes super cold, then strain it.
- Next, pour the drink back into the cocktail shaker and dry shake it without ice.
- Finally, pour the cocktail into a chilled glass and garnish it with fresh raspberries.
If you're a cocktail lover, you've probably come across the term "dry shake" in a recipe that features frothy goodness like egg white. Don't worry, it's not some fancy mixology trick that only the pros know!
This simply means shaking your ingredients without ice first. This step is crucial in emulsifying the ingredients and aerating the egg white, which in turn creates a richer and creamier texture.
Once combined well, you’ll then add ice to the shaker to both chill the drink and create its final foamy consistency.
Reverse Dry Shake
That said, because this Clover Club cocktail recipe follows Reiner’s specs and instructions to a tee, you’ll use a reverse dry shake instead of a dry shake to make it! This simply means that you shake the ingredients with ice first before straining the drink and then dry shaking it without ice again. According to Reiner, the reverse dry shake gives the drink an extra frothy texture.
Clover Club cocktail without egg white
Although the Clover Club Cocktail typically calls for the egg white to give it its signature texture, alternative recipes can still deliver the same delicious punch.
One option involves making a Clover Club cocktail with aquafaba, which is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. Aquafaba has a similar texture to egg white and can be used in cocktails to create a frothy head. To make a Clover Club vegan, simply substitute one ounce of aquafaba for the egg white in the recipe.
Another option is to skip the frothy texture altogether and simply leave out the frothing agent. Although this changes the texture of the drink, it will still have the same balance of sweet and tart flavors that make the Clover Club Cocktail a timeless classic.
Clover Club cocktail raspberry syrup
While you typically make fruit syrup by combining fruit, water, and sugar and “cooking” them together over medium heat on the stove, Reiner takes a different approach to create the raspberry syrup for her Clover Club cocktail.
For this recipe:
- Begin by crushing fresh raspberries and mixing them with sugar. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes to macerate.
- Then, heat water to a warm temperature and pour it over the fruit-sugar mixture. Stir the mixture until the sugar fully dissolves.
- Next, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and add Vodka to fortify it. (While adding vodka is optional, it can help preserve the syrup and extend its shelf life.)
Clover Club Cocktail with Chambord
If raspberries aren’t in season where you live or you simply don’t want to go through the trouble of making raspberry syrup, you can use Chambord as a substitute. Chambord will give the drink a bit of a different flavor profile given that it's made from black raspberries and has some vanilla and spice notes, but the outcome will still be delicious!
Commonly asked questions about the Clover Club Cocktail
A classic drink enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts for over a century, this sweet and frothy concoction is a staple in many bars and restaurants worldwide. Here are some quick answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about this tipple.
What does Clover Club cocktail taste like?
A delightful cocktail that's both sweet and tangy, the Clover Club has a balanced and complex flavor profile that combines the sweet freshness of raspberries with the tartness of lemon juice and the botanical notes of Gin. The addition of egg white creates a silky texture, while the dryness of the Gin and the acidity of the lemon juice come together to create a refreshing sip.
Where did the Clover Club cocktail originate?
The Clover Club cocktail originated In Philadelphia at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel.
Who made the Clover Club?
Cocktail historians believe that members of a men's social club called The Clover Club created the Clover Club Cocktail in Philadelphia in the late 1800s.
Why is it called a Clover Club?
The Clover Club cocktail was named after the men's social club, The Clover Club, which invented it.
What percent alcohol is a Clover Club?
The alcohol content of a Clover Club cocktail varies depending on the recipe used. For this recipe, which calls for 1 ½ oz of Gin and ½ oz of Dry Vermouth, the approximate ABV is 25-30%.
Who owns the Clover Club bar?
Julie Reiner and Tom Macy own The Clover Club cocktail bar in Brooklyn.
Other Egg White Tipples
If you enjoy the velvety texture of this Clover Club cocktail, some other drinks made with egg white that you might like include:
- Floral Gin Sour: Chamomile adds an unexpected boost to this Gin and lemon combo
- Winter into Spring: Bourbon and Meyer lemon juice combine to make this cocktail shine
- Violet Ramos Gin Fizz: Lavender meets lemon and Gin in this gorgeous Spring sipper
- Rum Flip: Rum is the star of the show in this creamy eggnog alternative
- Lemon Rosemary Sour: A Gin and lemon concoction with an herbal touch
Keep in mind that drinking cocktails made with raw egg white comes with a small risk of foodborne illness, so make sure to use pasteurized eggs and to handle the egg white with care.
Clover Club Cocktail: The Wrap-Up
The Clover Club Cocktail story spans over a century, and its journey to becoming a modern-day favorite has been a fascinating one. From its original incarnation in a Philadelphia men's club to its resurgence in the early 2000s, it has remained a popular choice for cocktail lovers all over the world.
This light and refreshing drink is as beautiful to look at as it is tasty to drink and can be enjoyed on any occasion and any time of year. It's one of my favorite Gin cocktails and one that I particularly love sipping on during Happy Hour or as an apéritif before dinner.
But be forewarned, the recipe for this Clover Club cocktail is so smooth and tasty that it’s easy to indulge in a few too many…
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