The Clover Club Is A Classic Philly Cocktail Featuring Raspberry Syrup

The Clover Club is one of those rare cocktails that are as fascinating and scintillating as their origin stories. The drink was created pre-Prohibition at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Nicknamed the "Great Dame of Broad Street," the Bellevue-Stratford opened in 1904 when it was revered as the most lavish hotel in America. The hotel boasts its own entry on the National Register of Historic Places, and Thomas Edison himself even designed the ballroom light fixtures. Writers, actors, and other "important people" with very modern, contemporary, inherently Futurist ideas congregated here. The guest list ranged from Katherine Hepburn to John Wayne, the Vanderbilts, J. P. Morgan, and countless U.S. presidents. In short, if you were staying at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, you were somebody. (At least for the duration of your stay.)

The story goes that from 1882 until sometime during the 1920s, a group of these "thinkers" met at the hotel once a month to sip cocktails and discuss contemporary matters of the day around the proverbial watercooler — and they called themselves the "Clover Club." Enter the cocktail of our most whimsical "think pink" dreams.

Shaking things up, both literally and figuratively

Considering the gender politics of the U.S. during the early 20th century, it's impressively progressive that a drink named after a men's social club founded on the premise of intellectualism was a delicate pink concoction served in a long-stemmed glass. (Perhaps the Clover Club really was thinking up some pretty revolutionary ideas, after all.) Alas, the cocktail fell out of popular favor after Prohibition thrust the bar scene into a long and resistant hiatus. But, recently, the cocktail has enjoyed a new generation of fans with the opening of the eponymous Clover Club bar in Brooklyn, New York, in 2008. (If you aren't in an egg-white mood, try the Willow's Fizz. It's killer.)

The Clover Club cocktail is as visually stunning as it is complex. It's sweet, tart, slightly sour, and has a beautiful pink hue topped with bubbly pink froth. The egg white might feel like a tedious step — as any bartender who's had to work a Mardi Gras shift knows all too well. (Ramos Gin Fizz, anyone?) Still, to make a true Clover Club, the ingredient is anything but optional, adding a foamy, viscous fullness to the cocktail for a luxurious mouthfeel. For vegan foodies, shaken, chilled aquafaba from a can of beans would work here too. Choose your own adventure — and pull up a seat at the Clover Club table.

Get ready to flex your cocktail-shaking muscle

The Clover Club is a combination of dry gin, fresh lemon juice, egg white, and raspberry syrup, vigorously shaken until the egg white froths. Some folks add ice to their shaker; Others say egg whites froth better without ice and add it after a vigorous initial shake. (Do you.) Besides the egg white, the kicker here is the raspberry syrup, which is extra sweet and velvety thanks to the fruit's naturally high sugar content and tenderness. If you're making a homemade raspberry simple syrup, be sure to strain out all those micro-seeds before stirring a glob into your cocktail. Alternatively, if you aren't trying to impress any dinner guests, a few fresh raspberries muddled in the bottom of a coupe glass will do the trick too. Some bartenders even add the fresh raspberries straight into their shakers, where the soft fruit gets pulverized by the ice and incorporated into the cocktail that way. 

Opt for a London dry gin, which will hold up against the egg white and won't overpower the raspberry syrup. Tanqueray would add a botanical flair without dominating the flavor profile. Other Clover Club recipes recommend using equal parts gin and dry vermouth. (Clover Club bar owner Julie Reiner makes her signature cocktail this way, via Punch.) Our take? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the cocktail world is your oyster shooter. Garnish with a fresh raspberry skewer or a few dried rosehips.