What came first, the chicken or the Clover Club Cocktail?

Egg in cocktails is something at which many people balk. Raw eggs are slimy, dangerous, and the drink will taste like an omelette. Well…no. I’ll grant you they’re slimy to begin with, but not once we are finished with them. What they are is one of the best unifiers of a mixed drink that imparts a uniquely pleasurable silkiness you will get no other way. It also gives the drink a nice frothy head.  And, no, the cocktail will not taste of cooked egg.

The Clover Club is another of those recipes for which the “authentic” or “accepted”recipe is difficult to establish.  According to David Wondrich, the first printed version of the Clover Club, named after and served at a men’s club in Philadelphia, is from Paul Lowe’s 1909 Drinks: How to Mix and Serve Them. Right from the start, things get complicated.  Lowe’s recipe calls for gin, vermouth, raspberry syrup, sugar, and the white of one egg. The one ingredient left out is lemon juice, which appears in most subsequent recipes and many assume the omission to be a printer’s error. Over time, the drink lost its vermouth, switched lime juice for lemon (some calling the lime version  a Clover Leaf cocktail while others added a mint leaf to the lemon version and called that a Clover Leaf–it’s enough to make your head spin), and used grenadine instead of raspberry which makes a completely different cocktail.clover club 2

If we are looking for the “authentic” recipe, then we have to return to Lowe’s 1909 version and decide whether the lemon juice should be included. Without it, the drink would be very sweet, but that is not unusual for many drinks from the turn of the century and after. The original recipe called for one ounce of each ingredient (except the sugar, of course) and would be nigh on undrinkable. So already we need to start tinkering. The following recipe, courtesy Cold-glass.com, adjusts the ingredients a bit to make a more balanced drink.

1 1/2 oz Gin (London dry style)

3/4 oz Dry Vermouth

3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 oz Raspberry syrup

1/2 of an Egg White

Dry shake the ingredients to emulsify the egg, then add ice and shake until cold.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with fresh raspberries if you have them.

The more common “accepted” recipe leaves out the vermouth and replaces the raspberry syrup with grenadine.

1 1/2 oz Gin

3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 oz Grenadine

1 Egg White

Dry shake ingredients, then add ice and shake until cold.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Personally, I would cut the amount of egg in half or just make two drinks in the same shaker.

I’ve tried them both. They are both good drinks and I can’t say I have a preference. The raspberry is very pronounced in the first version while the lemon juice, while not creating a sour, does stand out more in the second. Give them both a try. 

A note on using raw eggs in drinks: Salmonella, of course, is the overriding concern.  Use fresh eggs that have remained refrigerated.  Also, the evil buggies don’t like cold, citrus juice, or alcohol–all present in this drink. Using pasteurized eggs is an option, but I’ve never tried it myself so cannot say how well it works.

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