The classic cocktail: the Clover Club. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

A classic cocktail: the Clover Club. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

This Friday cocktail recipe is posted with heavy shame. I’m sorry, but it’s the way it sometimes goes with blog posts. I’ll always be honest with you. Regrettably, there are multiple levels of shame here. Ignorance, laziness, bad planning, haste, forced collusion. It all started when Jeff Houck, the Tampa journalist (the sounds so much more formidable than a, doesn’t it? and since I like the guy’s work, he’s definitely a the), wrote an article about digital food books, which noted this excellent iBook called 25 Classic Cocktails. I asked the guys who made it to do a guest post and offer some cocktails. They chose a Pink Lady and also gave the recipe for a variant, the Clover Club, which is a Pink Lady without the applejack.

While on a trip to LA, I was with my Picadillo pal Nathan who said that he and our mutual friend Annie had gone on a Clover Club tear after my post. I had been down in Key West at the time of the post, drinking Dark & Stormys with the boys (no pink drinks for them). But after Nathan’s remark I thought, let’s try this thing. So when Donna texted she was at the store and did I need anything, I texted back “grenadine.”

Here’s where the shame comes in. I knew that grenadine was originally pomegranate syrup and I knew that what Donna would buy would be the generic red syrup, but I didn’t want her to go searching for the real stuff even if the store carried it. It was late, she was leaving town soon, I wanted a Clover Club, dinner had to be made. As I was setting up the above photo before Donna left town I read the label of the Rose’s grenadine. It didn’t even attempt to describe the flavor or what it was. Why? Because this is what it is: high-fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium benzoate, red dye #40, natural and artificial flavors (what’s the difference? they don’t say), and something called blue #1.

So we made the above cocktail anyway. Shame, but there it is. It’s redeemed somewhat by the noble egg white, and it tasted really good. Really good. Taste goes a long way. While Donna was downloading her pix I gave her a taste and at first I thought she hated it, but she said, “That is really good.”

I did a little research. I didn’t want red #40 or blue #1 in my house, let alone in my drink. I asked Danny Guess, the master behind the bar at Fly Bar and Restaurant and the man who describes and demos each drink in lovely videos in the aforementioned iBook. “Real grenadine,” he wrote back immediately, “actually comes from the juice of pomegranates, and is wonderfully rich, slightly floral, deep in texture, and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.” (The word grenadine comes from the French word for pomegranate).

“If you’re not trying to spend hours perfecting your own, the cheapest and fastest way is to buy a bottle of POM pomegranate juice, and use equal parts sugar and juice. I like the cold process method (just get a sealed container, add the juice and sugar and shake it until all the sugar is dissolved). This method doesn’t heat up the juice, and preserves that fresh pomegranate flavor. A couple drops of orange flower water will boost the complexity. The color can be a little off with this method, as the syrup comes out a little darker than ideal, but the taste is there.”

So much more to say here, about the egg white, about the straining of this cocktail, about how delicious this cocktail is, even with red sugar water, but here is the ultimate moment of shame. The following day, hunting for the Dijon mustard in the refrigerator door, I came across a lovely little red bottle and I my heart nearly stopped. It contained actual pomegranate syrup, made painstakingly from actual pomegranate seeds by my dear friend Anton Zuiker, aka Mister Sugar, and given to me as a gift shortly before Christmas when he and his impossibly lovely wife Erin swung through Cleveland. I tasted it immediately. It was fantastic. A swoon of love and regret, and more shame. A forgotten gift, the purchase of crappy food, bringing my blameless wife into to the whole mess.

We, of course, shot this earlier in the week, so, happily I can indeed redeem this day with good work and a prayer for forgiveness, followed by a proper Clover Club using Anton’s wonderful pomegranate syrup.

Clover Club

  • 60 grams gin (2 ounces)
  • 20 grams lemon juice (3/4 ounce)
  • 20 grams simple syrup
  • 10 grams grenadine (a teaspoon or two)
  • 1 egg white
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker. Dry shake.
  2. Add ice. Shake once more, vigorously.
  3. Pour out of shaker through a strainer into a chilled glass (more about this in next week’s post, and in the below video).

Watch the video on how to make a Clover Club.

If you liked this post, check out these other links:

© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



18 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: Clover Club”

  • Le Grumeau

    I’m clearly going to need that tonight, or even before. I usually don’t like egg white in my cocktails but this one looks great !
    Le Grumeau

  • Darcie

    Upon first glance at the photo I was ready to write a scathing diatribe and implore you to use proper pomegranate syrup, but then I actually read the article. I happen to have homemade pomegranate syrup (will try the orange flower water addition), Beefeater, and leftover egg whites in the fridge. I know what I’m having tonight when I get home from work…and after the week I’ve had, I’ll probably have two. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jessica / Burlap and Butter Knives

    Sounds like someone has been in a shame spiral… (stuart smalley reference) no worries, you will redeem yourself, of I am sure.

    I rarely have pomegranate syrup, but I ALWAYS have homemade jam. I wonder if I thinned it out, could I use that? Hmmmmm

  • Allen

    That little red British guy on the Beefeater label looks like he’s running away from a pink toxic chemicle spill.
    I’ll make whatever drink my guest wants, but it can’t include Roses grenadine, we threw it out long ago. I’ve made the homemade version and used a red sweet wine – anything to replace pink slime.
    I used to put it in tequila and orange juice because it looked cool, not because I thought it added anything flavorful.
    But it’s all about taste, if you like it, forgive my rant. Just ignore my pompous ass, be happy and enjoy!
    Cheers, happy Friday all!

  • Brian

    fyi….citric acid is not vitamin C…..ascorbic acid is. other than that, another great cocktail recipe.

  • Anton Zuiker

    Glad you liked it, Michael. I’m hoping this redeems me in the eyes of Erin, who every year after my grenadine-making night is sure to point out that I’ve sprayed the kitchen with tiny dots of pomegranate juice. Perhaps a Clover Club cocktail will also help. Trying it tonight!

    • Stephen Jenkins

      I was about to make a joke about a scale not being in the photo, but it is in the background, ha! Hope you are well Anton, fond memories of the event you hosted with Michael.

  • irina

    Aren’t you going to do a Key West post? Loved it last year.

  • Ilinap

    I love this! I bought grenadine once and never used it after reading the ingredients. I have shied away from making my own, mostly because of the red dot mess that Anton refers to. Maybe we should just use his kitchen and make a double batch!

  • Allen

    The oceans dying, the planctons dying.
    It’s people.
    Roses grenadine is made out of people.

  • MonkeyBoy

    Of commercial brands Angostura Grenadine Syrup is one brand that is still made from pomegranates, though though it contains high fructose and other additives.

    Mid-Eastern cooking often uses pomegranates and you can buy pomegranate syrup aka. molasses for that purpose which is usually actually made from pomegranates. However the one bottle I tried had so much ascorbic acid in it that I felt it couldn’t be used in drinks.

  • Hannah

    Tried it tonight with the molasses… You do have to thin it out a bit in order to get it to mix , but it is good, although it does give the drink a bit of an off color- very tart too…

    We also tried it with bing cherry juice and it was amazing!

  • Amber

    I’m not sure how widely available it is, but Employees Only (the cocktail bar in NYC) makes grenadine without chemicals that most stores around here sell. Fresh Direct carries it too, so I know it makes it at least as far as Philly.

  • Zane

    Don’t be so ashamed of the Rose’s Grenadine Syrup. Its probably in darn near every kitchen and home bar in Ohio, and will resonate with people and maybe get them to mix the drink. Which by the way will encourage them to use egg white in a cocktail for the first time. Talk about a coup!

    Under ideal circumstances, yeah… I’d use something different too, but sometimes its about making great things happens with what you have on hand, or in your case, what you think you have on hand. THe drink looks great and tastes wonderful. I don’t see a problem here.


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