The Clover Club

August 12th, 2008

Last month before I went to America I did a fair amount of research regarding what bars I should visit whilst in New York, and gathered together a list of “must visit” places like Pegu Club, Death & Co. and Little Branch. I saw the Clover Club, a relatively new joint that opened in Brooklyn earlier this year, pop up in conversation several times, so I added it to my list even though given its location outside of Manhattan I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it there.

During the course of my time in America though the name kept being mentioned. Brooklyn residents Paul and Steve recommended it whilst at Tales, then others mentioned it when I talked about my return to New York, until finally when Phil Ward suggested it when I was back in Manhattan at Death & Co. I knew I had to make the trip across the East River and see what all the fuss was about.

The Clover Club

Being unfamiliar with Brooklyn and a lone traveller I was a little hesitant to make my way out of Manhattan, but after a simple ride on the F train I found myself in an area that felt perfectly safe, and just a short walk from the Clover Club. Separated in to a large front area and a smaller back section with its own separate bar the place felt much larger than many of the bars I had been to in New York. It features a beautiful old wooden bar that was apparently saved from a mining town in Pennsylvania, and generally feels very classic though with a slightly more down-to-earth feel than some places.

I arrived at about 10pm on a Friday night, so the place was pretty busy and my chances of getting a seat looked pretty slim. Thankfully there was a seat at the back bar, and after being shown through was greeted by a much smaller room with everyone seated and a much calmer atmosphere. The split between the two rooms works really nicely, offering space for larger, more lively groups whilst still having a more intimate setting for those who prefer a quieter drink.

When I got to the bar I didn’t even look at the menu and immediately ordered a Clover Club. Made with fresh egg white and raspberry syrup it was a delightfully smooth drink, with a beautiful head of froth. It had a light and fruity mouth-feel, with the raspberry syrup and citrus balanced perfectly to create a slightly tart pucker, and the gin (I missed which brand was used) providing a decent but subtle backbone.

Next up was a drink on their menu which caught my eye called the Madranno Cobbler. Featuring muddled strawberries, sherry, Amaro Ciacia and demerara, plus a stick of cinnamon for garnish, this was a really delicious long drink. The amaro was subtle but worked wonderfully with the sherry to create a very complex, aromatic flavour which was brightened by the strawberries creating a great interplay of ingredients. Really delicious stuff.

After something old and something new I went for my typical third drink option, something off-menu, and asked my bartender Nate to make me a drink of his choice. After carefully assembling the drink in a mixing glass and stirring for a long, long time he offered up the Remember the Maine, a drink from The Gentleman’s Companion and one of his own personal favourites.

Served in a vintage cocktail glass along with a small vessel packed with ice to hold the remainder of the drink (see photo above), this was a perfect end to my time at the Clover Club. A mixture of rye and vermouth, plus a little kirsch and absinthe it was a great play on the traditional Manhattan, offering an extra depth of flavour that never took anything away from the rye/vermouth base. Cheers Nate!

I’d have loved to stay at the Clover Club longer, but wanting to get back to Manhattan before I was too tipsy I had to leave it at three drinks. Definitely worth the journey out to Brooklyn, I’m pleased to say in this instance the hype was justified and I really can’t say enough good things about the Clover Club. Highly recommended.

The Clover Club is located at 210 Smith Street, between Butler and Baltic. Open 5pm to 2am (Monday to Thursday), 5pm to 4am (Friday), 2:30pm to 4am (Saturday) and 2:30pm to 1am (Sunday).
Tel: +1 718 855 7939
Web: www.cloverclubny.com

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Photography by Jay Hepburn
Artwork by Craig Mrusek

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