Who’s in the Clover Club?

A Clover Club cocktail

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
1/3 grenadine
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 ingredients

Clover Club cocktail

1.5 gin
0.5 lemon juice
0.5 grenadine
0.5 vermouth
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.

Clover Leaf

2 gin
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)!

7 thoughts on “Who’s in the Clover Club?

  1. Nice experimentation, must say what are you storing in the square bottles (and where are they from).

    Assume one is grenadine, the other rasberry syrup?

    Had a lovely Clover Club at 69 Colebrooke Row last week. Yum.

  2. Yes, the lighter one is the raspberry (which is gorgeous by the way). The square bottles I got very cheaply from ebay at Christmas, but have such a narrow opening I think they’re supposed to be perfume bottles. They would be great for storing homemade bitters.

    I was giving homemade liqueurs as presents but in the spirit of environmental friendliness (and not skin flintedness) asked for the bottles back. They’re 100ml and are the perfect size for storing syrups
    I LOVE 69 Colebrooke Row!

  3. great entry!

    I use the dry shake (with coil from hawthorn strainer) in similar case always. And you are right if you use dry shake – you should keep your shakers lid strong. The cause of this is not clear for me, but it is true.

  4. I think the cause of this phenomenon is in alcohol. Witout the ice, alcohol as a rather volatile fraction vaporise too fast during the shake. So the pressure is up, and we can watch an explosion =)
    P.S. Pardon if something wrong in my english (it’s not my native language)

    • It’s one of my favourites! Just bought some pomegranates to make a grenadine version…well worth the effort when raspberries out of season.

      oh and your explanation of the explosion phenomonen was perfectly clear.

  5. Two shakes are essential–the first, without the ice, gives you the best emulsification, and then you add the ice for the second shake to chill it.

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