There’s no great mystery about the genesis of the name. It was first served at meetings of the Clover Club, a regular convocation of drinky males, at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel up through Prohibition. While banning alcohol set the cause of all good cocktails back, the death blow to the Clover Club beverage seems to have come from toxic masculinity!
It turns out that “pink for girls and blue for boys” was not yet a big deal pre-World War I. So manly men in Philly and elsewhere had no problem downing a frothy, pink-colored concoction. As pointed out by then-Esquire cocktail columnist David Wondrich in 2007, the Clover Club was listed by the very same Esquire some 70 years prior as among several awful cocktails that would for sure tarnish one’s manly virtues. The drinks were referred to by the name of a common flower which is still also a slur for a gay man. Unfortunate.
By the time of the 21st cocktail revival, however, some progress had been made. By then, many of us dudes, bros, cats, and dawgs were secure enough in our masculinity to publicly consume a pink or rose-colored drink. (“Girl drinks” were expected to have umbrellas.) Today, real men, real women, real non-binary folk, and real trans people can now enjoy this wonder without shame or fear – in most large cities, anyhow.
The Clover Club
1½ ounces gin
½ dry vermouth
½ ounce fresh lemon or lime juice
½ egg white (1/2 ounce)
½ ounce raspberry syrup (a decent grenadine should also work)
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice. “Dry” shake it vigorously for enough time to fully emulsify the egg white. Add lots of ice. Shake again vigorously for as long as you stand it and strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass. A nice foam should form quickly over the drink, which should be more rose-colored and less Pepto-Bismal-like. If it’s the former, sip and think rose-colored thoughts.
The first thing I noticed when I started Googling the Clover Club this time was that many recipes now include a half ounce of dry vermouth while reducing the gin from 2 ounces to 1.5 ounces. That includes bartending superstar Julie Reiner, who named one of her bars after the Clover Club.