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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Banana Clover Club

I was perusing the built-in recipes on my one of my cocktail shakers today and noticed a recipe for something called a "Clover Club". It says:

2/3 dry gin
1 egg white
1/3 lemon juice

Curious, I did some quick Googlery and found a Wikipedia entry about it that says:

The Clover Club Cocktail is a cocktail consisting of Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Syrup (or Grenadine), and an Egg white. The Egg white is not added for the purpose of giving the drink flavor, but rather acts as an emulsifier. Thus when the drink is shaken a characteristic foamy head is formed.

The Clover Club Cocktail is a drink that pre-dates Prohibition, and is named for the Philadelphia mens club of the same name, which met in the Bellevue-Stratford hotel.[1] It has a long history dating back to at least 1911, and was enjoyed by the captains of industry who were members of the famous club. In its Heyday the drink was described by Jack Townsend as being enjoyed by the pre-prohibition gentleman who would have fit in with those of the club, and was a "Distinguished patron of the oak-paneled lounge." However, by the time that Townsend was writing about the drink it was becoming unpopular, and was eventually all but forgotten.

The drink seems to have been forgotten partly due to the use of raw egg in the cocktail, which many people shy away from, and partly due to the complexity of its preparation. Despite the use of what some may consider to be strange ingredients the cocktail is enjoyable, and has been described as tart with the added syrup giving the drink complexity, and the egg white providing body as well as a foamy head.

Wikipedia gives the recipe as:

1 1/2 Oz. Gin
3/4 Oz. Lemon Juice
1/4 Oz. Raspberry Syrup (or Grenadine)
1 Egg White

Dry shake ingredients to emulsify, add ice, shake and served straight up.

Eager to resurrect this "forgotten" drink, I consulted the kitchen and determined some adjustments would be necessary. I'm all out of gin, so I substituted vodka. No Grenadine or raspberry syrup in the house either, so I went for a more tropical motif using banana nectar. Since banana was now the theme of the drink, I decided to omit the lemon juice. And instead of fresh egg whites, I took the lazy way back to the ranch and used powdered egg whites.

The final verdict: it's weird. But I like weird.

The package of powdered egg whites says to use 2 teaspoons of the powder to equal 1 egg white, but I deliberately used more egg whites than called for, just to see what would happen. I used 2 heaping tablespoons, and when I say heaping, I mean heaping.

My version:

1 1/2 Oz. Vodka
2 tbsp Deb-El Egg Whites
2 tbsp water
1/4 oz. Looza banana nectar

Shake the egg whites and the water together, then add vodka, banana nectar, and ice. Shake again.

What I got was a much richer, frothier, firmer head on the mixture; one that resisted pouring out, which was handy - I filled the glass 3/4 full and then ladled out the foam to sit atop the liquid. It's almost meringue-like in its consistency, which probably isn't what the old boys at the Clover Club had in mind. In fact, this is so far off from the original recipe that I should probably just call it something else entirely. Any ideas?

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