History in a Glass

World Best Bar

Jun 04, 2014

History in a Glass
The Clover Club Cocktail

Surely by now the world has realized that pink drinks are no longer—and in truth, never were—a gender issue. The Jack Rose Cocktail from the early 1900s, the Cosmopolitan Daisy from the 1920s, and the Clover Club Cocktail were equally sipped and savoured by “real” men back in the day before Prohibition changed general perceptions of mixed drinks well into this current century. Now that we’ve cleared the air about pink drinks, let us introduce you to the reigning queen of them all—the Clover Club Cocktail.

Pink Lady

Just before Prohibition in the United States cast its shadow on the cocktail’s limelight, mixologists mixed up homages to just about every event, every theatrical premiere, every motion picture premiere that hit the daily headlines. Such as the case with the Rob Roy, the Adonis, Floradora, you name it. When the 1911 Broadway musical hit Pink Lady—written by Ivan Caryll and Hugh Morton—graced the stage of the New Amsterdam Theatre, it obviously inspired a Manhattan mixologist to craft the Pink Lady in honour of its success. The drink itself was popular enough to earn a place in Jacques Straub’s 1914 book Drinks.
To serve: shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Even the Aviation Cocktail’s creator, Hugo R Ensslin of Manhattan’s Hotel Wallick, got in on the pink drink trend by crafting a sweet, creamy version called a Pinky that used egg white to give the libation froth. To serve: shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pink Shimmy
Although Prohibition closed the doors on hotel bars, taverns, and other public drinking establishments across the United States, it did little to hamper the drinking habits of private club members who had thoughtfully stockpiled supplies of spirits before the Volstead Act went into effect. Thus it was that assistant manager Armond Schroeder served up the Pink Shimmy to New Orleans’ elite at the Southern Yacht Club, which “held dances twice a week at which a jazz band played” throughout the 1920s.

To server: shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Clover Club Cocktial
Cream. Maybe that’s where the Pink Lady took a turn for the worse. The Repeal bells rang, in 1933, and the following year the staff at Esquire magazine lampooned Prohibition’s “Ten Worst Cocktails of the Previous Decade”. Among them were the Bronx, the Alexander, Pousse-Café, Sweetheart, Orange Blossom, Fluffy Ruffles, Pom Pom, Cream Fizz, Pink Lady, and her close sibling the Clover Club Cocktail. According to 21 Club’s head bartender Jack Townsend, Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats “was introduced to Clover Clubs during a visit to the United States in [1911] [at the Waldorf Hotel] and liked them so much he refused wines with his dinner because he felt they might interfere with the subtle flavour.” Born in the bar of Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, the Clover Club Cocktail was the signature beverage of the 35 members who gathered since 1882 on the third Thursday of every month for “social enjoyments, the cultivation of literary tastes, and the encouragement of hospitable intercourse”. In his 1931 book Old Waldorf Bar Days, journalist Albert Stevens Crockett recounted that hotel’s pre-Prohibition version, which one would assume was the twinkle in Yeats’ eye.

To serve: shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Clover Club Cocktail

It was a manly drink with a rosy-hue to be sure (at least in the eyes of gentlemen who populated the oak-paneled lounges of the world’s great hotels). A Clover Club recipe even graced the first silver three-part shaker to come off the assembly line after Repeal: the “Tells-You-How” Mixer. But as the century wore on, pink drinks were shuffled aside as “girlie” drinks. No serous cocktail drinker would be caught dead with a Cosmopolitan Daisy or a Pink Lady, let alone a Clover Club Cocktail! Those were “secretary” and “office girl” drinks. Fortunately, our perceptions of mixed drinks radically altered with the turn of the century. And thus, the new generation of mixologists have revived and revised some of these early classics from America’s golden age of the cocktail. Not surprising among them is a reworked version of the Clover Club, which is also the name of Julie Reiner’s Brooklyn speakeasy. We may never stop preaching to the already converted that taking a classic and evolving it into a new creation that appeals to current—and even local—palates is an art deserved of great attention. And the phoenix-like rise of the Clover Club Cocktail from obscurity to overwhelming popularity serves as strong testament.

Written by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown

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