Underappreciated and Over-delicious

Named for the famed pre-prohibition Philadelphia men’s club of the same name, the Clover Club is, in my opinion, one of the most under-appreciated of the pre-prohibition drinks. That said, the trusty combination of sour, sweet, booze and egg whites is not so uncommon – with the Whiskey Sour perhaps the most well-known.

By the way: this week’s cocktail is sponsored by Big Gin

Big Gin is all about the juniper – and it’s a great choice for a cocktail like the Clover Club which uses egg whites. A lesser gin might become muted and underwhelming, but the vibrant juniper flavor of Big Gin alongside the raspberry syrup is the perfect combination for this smooth velvety drink.

Thanks again to Big Gin for supporting A Bar Above!

While recipes differ a bit – with The Ideal Bartender (1917) by Thomas Bullock mentioning French Vermouth in the place of Lemon Juice, and Mrs. Norton’s Cook-book: Selecting cooking and Serving for the Home Table (1917) by Jeannette Young Norton listing grenadine instead of raspberry syrup. (Source). All known recipes for this drink feature egg white – and some believe that’s exactly the reason it fell out of favor. Requiring an extra “dry shake” step to make and (as today) causing some unease among customers, the drink paid the price and fell out of favor well before prohibition.

A Bit of a Cheat

While some recipes call for grenadine (and many bars use it, because it’s much more likely to be available than raspberry syrup), I will contend that this cocktail truly needs the raspberry to shine. That said, we cheated a bit on our recipe too! In lieu of making raspberry syrup from fresh raspberries, we used a syrup made from raspberry jam (something we just happened to have in the house.)

When using fruit preserves like jams or jellies in cocktails, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • First, and perhaps most obviously, you’ll need to add water. This will adjust the consistency to make it usable in a cocktail and will negate the affects of any pectin or other thickeners used.
  • Secondly, if you’re using a jam with lumps or seeds, you’ll want to strain these out.
  • Third, you’ll need to add sugar.

That last point is counter-intuitive. I usually think of preserves as being very sweet – but they are nowhere near as sweet as simple syrup. (Would you put Simple on your toast?) Since every jam/ jelly will be different, this last step is very subjective. You’ll want to add sugar until your mixture has a similar level of sweetness as simple syrup.

Everyday Delicious

This cocktail is the perfect celebration of the humble raspberry. I find it plays beautifully with the juniper in the glass, while offering a bright enough flavor to shine through the egg white. It’s a perfect combination of botanical aroma from the gin, fruity sweetness from the berries and creamy texture from the egg whites.

So the next time you don’t just happen to find fresh raspberries in the fridge, don’t worry – our “Wednesday night” Clover club is the cheater’s variation. All you need is to keep some raspberry jam on hand and you’re ready to go!