The history of the cocktail & the popular Clover Club

Cocktails have been enjoyed for centuries now from basic drinks made with beer and eggs to the bitter slings of yesteryear all the way up to the modern mixological marvels of today. Much work has been done to discover where the cocktail first came from and how it earned it’s name, the majority of which was completed by David Wondrich, a cocktail historian widely respected in the world of hospitality and mixology.

In Wondrich’s 2nd edition of his book Imbibe! he discusses the origins of the word “cocktail” and discusses forgotten and lost spirits that were popular back in the 18th and 19th century which even led Bols to re-create a high quality, rich-tasting genever once again. Thanks to Wondrich, we know that the term “cocktail” came from the 1700s horse trade by which traders would place fresh ginger in a horses posterior to make it cock it’s tail which was a sign of a lively horse. As ginger was a popular ingredient in mixed drinks and they were often seen as stimulating, it’s suggested that this is how mixed alcoholic drinks earned their moniker in 1806!

A “cock-tail” was described as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters”. There were two earlier uses of the word in 1798 and then 1803 though this description is the most concise. There is proof however that drinks containing brandy, sugar and bitters were being mixed up as early as 1746, during the period known as the “gin craze”.

Whilst likely to have originated in Britain, cocktails have often been regarded as being an American invention thanks to Jerry “Professor” Thomas who was an American bartender who wrote the first truly comprehensive manual on “How to Mix Drinks”. Thomas was a true genius and innovator of his time; educating bartenders but also helping drinks to develop and evolve.

We must also give credit to the industrialisation of the United States and Frederic “Ice King” Tudor who was importing ice in the early 1800s from colder climates to help chill people’s drinks and helping to give rise to the ice cold Martini’s and Juleps that we’re fond of today. Thanks to the wider availability of ice, the popularity of cocktails skyrocketed until the beginning of the Prohibition Era.

During the run-up to the Prohibition, cocktail culture became rife with the creation of delicious drinks that are popular even through until today. Many of these drinks became synonymous with the bartenders that made them or even the places in which they were created.

Take the Clover Club for example. Created at the Bellevue-Stratford, Philadelphia, the Clover Club was an all-male salon of lawyers & writers, the drink was largely popular in the late 1800s. Initially popular, it fell out of fashion in the 1930’s named by Esquire as one of the ten worst cocktails in existence (which they later changed their mind on 74 years later), and like many classic cocktails, it became largely popular again as fashion and drinking habits changed. So popular in fact, there’s even a bar in New York named the Clover Club.

Rich, creamy and silky with vibrant flavours of fresh raspberry and accentuated by citrussy and fruity gins you can find our recipe just below! If you’re not fond of egg whites, fear not, you can make the drink using aqua faba or Ms. Betters Bitters Miraculous Foamer instead.

Clover Club

40ml Slingsby London Dry Gin

20ml Frais de Bois

20ml Lemon Juice

12.5ml Dry Vermouth

20ml Sugar Syrup

Crushed raspberries (6)

Egg whites

Crush the fresh raspberries at the base of a cocktail shaker and add all other ingredients with ice. Shake hard then strain the liquid from the ice and shake again. Shake for a while to allow the foam to properly form and strain into a coupe glass. Let the foam settle and place a raspberry gently in the middle of the foam.

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