While the Clover Club cocktail may have originated in the 1890s at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, where the social organization that lends the drinks its name would carouse, it’s very much a drink of the 20th century. It was then that the famously pink drink became a cultural phenomenon beyond a small set of Philly-area lawyers and business folk. It arrived in New York perhaps thanks to hotelier George Boldt, who operated both the Bellevue and the new Waldorf-Astoria. His other culinary claim to fame was popularizing Thousand Island dressing at the latter, but the Clover Club was more of an immediate success among the city’s trend-watching elite. Soon the drink was spread across the city, where it had, as they say, a moment.
By the time Congress voted to outlaw all alcohol in the United States on a cold January day in 1918, the drink had spread like a frothy sweet-but-not-too-sweet wildfire across the country’s collective cocktail canon. It had been covered in newspapers and had begun to show up in the cocktail manuals that still survive today. By 1917 it appeared in Tom Bullock’s The Ideal Bartender in the form often served today at cocktail bars: a gin and dry vermouth sour, brightened with raspberry syrup, and frothed with egg white. Other versions exist—some exclude the vermouth, others eschew raspberry for grenadine (a latter-day transformation after that syrup became something of a cocktail sensation of its own)—but the Bullock version survives today for a reason: It is a delicious cocktail with its own specific charm. It's a drink that beautifully pairs bright berry with tangy and herbaceous vermouth.
For the Clover Club to hit both marks, it needs to be structured around a quality raspberry syrup—the best one you’ll be able to get your hands on is the one you make yourself with fresh, in-season raspberries. Make sure your lemon juice is fresh as well (squeezed that day) and that you’ve chosen a quality gin and vermouth—I like to make this drink with Ford’s Gin and Dolin Dry. Lastly, getting a good head of foam on your clover club is essential, but don’t go crazy because bigger isn’t better. The best method is to add the ingredients to a shaker tin (including the egg white) and give a good, hard shake for a few seconds with no ice before adding the ice and shaking again for about ten seconds to chill. This will help your Clover Club get the classic, elegant look and feel that lets this drink sit comfortably in both the oak-paneled lounges of yesteryear—and in the backyard this summer.
Combine 1 large egg white, 3 oz. gin, 1 oz. dry vermouth, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, and 1 oz. Raspberry Syrup in a cocktail shaker.
Seal and shake without ice for 5 seconds to froth, then unseal shaker and add ice. Shake until well chilled, about 10 seconds.
Strain through both a Hawthorne strainer and a fine tea strainer, dividing between 2 stemmed cocktail glasses. Garnish each drink with a raspberry.
*Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems…or people who don’t like raw eggs.
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Fantastic recipe. Must try!!!
Great but would use a touch less vermouth
I was looking for a fresh raspberry recipe for a fun cooking competition and this seemed like a good recipe to try. It’s beautiful, refined and sexy, like something from the great Gatsby.
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