Long before Greta Gerwig made pink cool again with her brandishing feminist blockbuster Barbie (2023), it was the cocktail Clover Club that reclaimed the power of pink with absolute aplomb. This rose-hued drink with a foamy white crown, blends gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and egg white. Interestingly, Clover Club was originally considered a gentleman’s drink.
This pre-Prohibition classic draws its name from the eponymous men's club in Philadelphia, where influential figures convened at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Since its establishment in 1882, the club has attracted captains of industry who revelled in the enduring charm of this drink.
The earliest recorded recipes of the drink that date back more than a century are surprisingly identical to the modern-day versions of the Clover Club cocktail. Jack’s Manual, a cocktail recipe book from 1909 by bartender Jack A. Grohusko, features a drink called the Clover Leaf, that is significant for its “orchid colour and white rim.” Much like its modern-day recipe, this version of the cocktail features sugar, Gordon's Gin, raspberry syrup, egg white and a sprig of mint.
The drink has a nuanced flavour profile, characterised by a sharp tartness from lemon juice, the subtle sweet and sourness from the raspberry syrup and a crisp and botanical base from the gin. The frothy texture, achieved by adding beaten egg white, leaves a velvety mouthfeel in each sip.
The drink swiftly became the drink of choice for pre-Prohibition gentlemen. Yet, its popularity was short-lived, as chronicled by Albert Stevens Crockett in his 1931 work, Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Days. It was branded as a "girly drink" in tandem with its cocktail sister, the Pink Lady. As a matter of fact, in 1939, the Clover Club found itself ranked in Esquire Magazine's 10 Worst Drinks of the decade. The reign of Martinis and Manhattans was further cemented by demands from frequent customers.
Another culprit for its falling out of favour was the inclusion of raw egg. Its decline could also be linked to the cocktail's intricate preparation.
However, in the midst of this decade's craft cocktail revival, the once-neglected cocktail has made a comeback. But this time, the drink has fortunately not been gatekept by the men. The revival of the drink can be attributed to Julie Reiner, the mastermind behind Manhattan's Pegu Club, Flatiron Lounge, and the 2015-born Leyenda bar in Brooklyn. Paying homage to the original Philadelphia association, this reincarnated Clover Club is nestled in a dimly lit setting, adorned with late 19th-century regalia – wood panelling, tufted red leather couches, velvet curtains, and an ornate tin ceiling. Unsurprisingly, the Clover Club version takes the spotlight as the first entry on the bar's menu, showcased proudly in the cocktail category. The new version of this cocktail is served with dry vermouth for a contemporary twist.
Add the gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with 3 speared raspberries.