This month’s classic cocktail belongs to a class of mixed drinks that used to be known as “flips” – that is, it’s a drink that’s shaken up with an egg. Well-known cocktails of this type include the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Pisco Sour, but this month we’re Remixing the Clover Club.
Named for the Philadelphia men’s club where it was first served, the Clover Club is another Prohibition-era drink that’s 1) all about the gin, and 2) all about hiding the terrible flavor of that period’s awful bathtub gin, in this case with lemon juice and raspberry syrup. Some bastardized recipes call for grenadine instead, but that stuff is way inferior to fresh raspberry syrup (and made from pomegranates besides; basically, it’s red and sweet, but that’s where the resemblance ends). Any bar that makes your Clover Club with grenadine is taking the kind of shortcuts that should make you steer clear – or stick to beer.
So, gin, lemon, raspberry syrup – and egg white. Sounds gross, I know, but if you do it right, a dry shake with egg white adds a silky, full (if non-vegan) richness to a cocktail. I was very pleased with my test run of the classic version, and it’s a drink I’ll make again. When it came to a Remix, it was tough to think how to improve on such a simple-but-balanced drink – but I remembered my July 2012 Remix, in which I reinterpreted the layered pousse-café as a striped jelly shot, and thought, “Hey, everyone loves a Jell-O shot in the summertime!” After all: egg whites, gelatin … we’re just swapping out one animal product for another, and making a drink that’s fun to eat in the process.
And so it happened. I guess it had to happen eventually: I finally met a drink that defeated the Remix. Oh, I don’t mean to undersell this recipe — I like it quite a bit. It’s fun and summery and looks gorgeous. But if I’m telling the absolute strictest truth … I prefer the classic this time around. There’s just something about the way that flavors transform when they’re jellied that brought out the perfumey-ness of the gin in a way I didn’t love (though one of my tasters, a gin fanatic, liked it a lot).
This raspberry syrup, on the other hand, I’ll definitely make anytime raspberries are in season. It’s like a pure distillation of summer and has endless uses – as a mixer with almost any liquor, or just in fizzy water; over ice cream, cake or yogurt. So my recommendation this month? Make a double batch of the syrup and try the drink both ways — you’re bound to like one of them.
2 ounces dry gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce raspberry syrup
1 egg white
4 whole fresh raspberries
First, make the syrup. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar until sugar just dissolves, then add two cups of fresh raspberries. Simmer until the berries break down into pulp (about five minutes). Strain out the solids, pressing the berries down with a spoon to get out all the liquid. For a clear syrup with no seeds, strain again through a coffee filter. (Refrigerate before using in this cocktail, or you’ll scramble the egg white.)
Combine the gin, lemon juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker, cover the shaker, and “dry” shake (that is, without ice) vigorously for no less than 20 seconds. Then add ice, re-cover, and shake for another 10 to 20 seconds. Strain into a stemmed glass and garnish with fresh raspberries speared on a cocktail pick, like martini olives.
1 1/4 cup raspberry syrup (recipe above)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup Hendricks or other “soft” gin
1/2 cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur
2 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder
zest of one lemon
Pour a few drops of neutral oil (like grapeseed) into a 9-inch-by-9-inch glass cake pan, and swab it around with a paper towel to lightly film the inside. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin powder over the surface of the raspberry syrup. (Do not dump the powder in all at once or it will clump.) Turn on low heat and stir constantly until powder dissolves, about five minutes. Take the pan off the heat (important: You don’t want to cook out the alcohol), then mix in the lemon juice, gin and St. Germain.
Pour the gelatin-liquor mix into the prepared pan and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. Once it’s set, use a thin, flexible, sharp knife (like a boning knife) to cut into squares and lift out of the pan. To serve, place cubes on a platter, splash with sweet vermouth and sprinkle with lemon zest.
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