The Clover Club is one of a pantheon of classic cocktails currently enjoying a revival in London bars, and rightly so. It’s a gentle balance of sweet and tart mellowed by egg white.
At first glance there seems to be as many different recipes as cocktail books published but a slightly closer inspection reveals there to be two main variants. The recipe used in the Savoy Cocktail book (or similar) is the one most commonly seen:
Savoy Clover Club
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 of lime
The white of 1 egg
2/3 dry gin
Shake well and strain into medium size glass.
An earlier recipe from The Ideal Bartender, by Tom Bullock published in 1917 uses raspberry syrup in place of grenadine and also includes vermouth:
Bullock’s Clover Club
Fill large bar glass ½ full fine ice
½ pony raspberry syrup
½ jigger dry gin
½ jigger french vermouth
White of 1 egg
Shake well; strain into cocktail glass and serve.
This third version from the Bar La Florida cocktail book seems to be more inspired by the Clover Leaf (a Clover Club with mint leaf added):
La Florida Clover Club
2 ounces London gin
Several dashes white mint
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoonful grenadine
Plenty of cracked ice
The white of 1 egg
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Subsequent printings of the first two recipes interchange grenadine and raspberry syrup or lemon juice and lime. These produce quite different results even before you consider adding vermouth, so I prepared a batch of both homemade grenadine and raspberry syrup and settled in to decide what my ultimate version of the Clover Club was.
Lemon juice easily won out over lime but deciding between the grenadine and raspberry was a much harder decision. The raspberry was fresher and produced a lighter, fruitier drink but the heaviness of the grenadine actually produced a smooth balance. A touch of vermouth added a further smoothness.
I also tried adding mint leaves to the shaker Clover Leaf style. The two recipes below were my favourites, one being a more classic version, albeit with vermouth, the other a fresher, more modern Clover Leaf.
Clover Club cocktail
0.5 lemon juice
1 egg white
Shake egg white and lemon juice with a little ice in shaker. Add more ice, gin, grenadine and vermouth and shake again. Strain into cocktail glass.
1 raspberry syrup
1 egg white
1 lemon juice
Sprig of mint
Shake egg white and lemon juice with a little ice in shaker. Add more ice, gin, raspberry syrup, mint and shake again. Strain into cocktail glass.
Tip: One good thing about all this research was learning the trick of two part shaking to froth the egg white thoroughly. Previously I could never really see the point of using egg white but shaken like this it gives body to the drink and smoothes out the flavour. Some people recommend dry shaking the egg white (ie without ice) but this can lead to the ingredients expanding too much and forcing the shaker lid off (according to a friend of mine at least – if anyone has further information about his please let me know)!