These are exciting times for gin and gin lovers, “Cocktail College” listener, and a large part of that comes from the new styles and different botanicals producers are bringing into the fold. But what I value more than anything is when those ingredients are being used with intention and — better yet — speak to a sense of place.
Take Roku Gin, from the House of Suntory, for example. This is a quality, crafted spirit and a uniquely Japanese gin by way of six native botanicals. Those ingredients include Sakura flowers and leaves, sencha tea, sansho pepper, and yuzu. Not only do they capture Japan in the glass, they also tell a tale of four distinct seasons. Once again, that name is Roku Gin, listener, and — if you want my take — you have to turn to this gin for zesty Martinis, bright, effervescent highballs, and a unique taste of Japan. Please drink responsibly. Roku Gin is a registered trademark with 43 percent alcohol by volume. Copyright 2022 – beam Suntory import company Chicago Ill.
On this episode of “Cocktail College,” host Tim McKirdy is joined by mixologist, club owner, and author Julie Reiner. The two explore the Clover Club cocktail, the cocktail that inspired the name of Reiner’s club, Clover Club, and the drink’s journey to becoming a beloved favorite. Tune in for more.
Julie Reiner’s Clover Club Recipe
- 1 ½ ounces gin, such as Plymouth, Bombay Dry, or Japanese
- ½ ounce dry vermouth, such as Dolin
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce raspberry syrup (recipe below)
- ¼ ounce egg white
- 1 fresh raspberry for garnish
- Add all raspberry syrup, lemon juice, dry vermouth, gin, and then, finally, egg white to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice.
- Add ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a fresh raspberry on a pick.
Raspberry Syrup Recipe
- ½ cup fresh raspberries
- 1 cup fine sugar
- ½ cup water
- Macerate raspberries and sugar until the mixture becomes thick and goopy. Add water and allow to sit overnight so the sugar dissolves. Strain out solids using a fine strainer.
Check Out the Conversation Here
Tim McKirdy: Julie Reiner in the house.
Julie Reiner: Yes, hello.
T: Back in the old stomping ground.
J: Absolutely, yeah.
T: We’re in the Flatiron District here. Is this still technically Flatiron where we are?
J: Well, yeah. I think so.
T: We’re in No Man’s Land, really.
J: On the edge, yeah.
T: We’re on the edge but, of course, also of Clover Club fame, it’s a natural fit for the show today. What an incredible cocktail. I’m looking forward to getting into this one. I often have first thought about a drink when it comes to the Clover Club; not only is it associated with this incredible bar that you run here, well, in Brooklyn close by, but also just what a wonderful looking drink off the bat.
J: It is a beautiful cocktail, yes.
T: Very, very visually stunning. We drink with our eyes first, we eat with our eyes first.
J: Yeah, yeah. It was a drink that I made for people at Flatiron Lounge which opened in 2003 and we were teaching people how to drink. So, I really gravitated towards the gin cocktails that would make a vodka drinker drink a gin drink.
J: And, along with the Southside Fizz, the Clover Club cocktail was always one of those. It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, it’s approachable and about 99 percent of people who taste it really like it.
T: Yeah, yeah. It really is one of those ones that’s the category of drinks is like, “Oh, you think you don’t like this type of spirit? Have I got something for you.”
J: Exactly, yeah. And when Flatiron opened, we were really trying to teach people that there were drinks other than the Cosmopolitan that they could have.
T: Popular one there, especially the old vodka drinkers. Can you briefly explain for anyone listening, I think there’s three or four of them who have never heard of this cocktail or are not familiar with its components, can you let them know briefly what are the components of this drink? We can name them.
T: Already it sounds wonderful off the bat. And we spoke about the bar there, so obviously one that’s dear to your heart, I would imagine. Can you just talk us through first here your own personal relationship with this drink? Do you remember the first time you came across it or you had it and, ultimately, why that was the name that you chose for this bar venture?
J: Yeah, I found it in an old book and, most of the time, in pre-opening of Clover Club itself, this drink was made without the dry vermouth. Most of the recipes that you would see were just the gin, lemon, raspberry syrup, and egg white or sometimes you’d see it with grenadine also. And later, I came to find out that many books that were written would just leave out ingredients that were hard to find and I think vermouth was one of those things that didn’t come over from Europe or not every bar had it. And so, when people wrote these books, they were like, “Oh, just leave it out,” and then somebody else would copy somebody else and then they would write the same thing, you know? So, I fell in love with the drink early on and I was like, “Well, if I’m going to name my bar after a cocktail, I want it to be a cocktail that everybody loves.” It’s beautiful, it’s feminine, it speaks to me and I felt like I really could build a menu around this particular classic.
T: Yeah, and a great name, too.
J: Yeah, the double Cs, it has a lot. I had a list of names and things that I was thinking of and it just made sense. And then, once we started writing it out and looking at it and what it would look like on a sign and a logo, I was like, “This has to be it.”
T: Yeah, it just fits naturally.
T: Quick sidebar, this reminds me of growing up and just assuming that one day I would be in a world-famous band despite having no musical talent and I spent most of the time thinking about what that band would be called. So, like that.
T: Is that the same in the industry, too, where you’re starting out or you’re working at good places and you’re like, “Yeah, I feel like I can get to this next stage where I’m going to be an owner, have my own place.” Is that something you are thinking about, the bar name? Because it’s such an important aspect.
J: Absolutely. For us, the process has been different with every place that we’ve had. I came up with the name for Leyenda as well. I feel like Leyenda was actually a harder bar to name because we wanted something in Spanish but that people who don’t speak Spanish can read and say and that also means something. So, that was one that I nailed on that one, too. But yeah, every bar that you open has a different process.
T: Mm-hmm. But is it something that’s percolating in the mind while you’re maybe cleaning down a section at night one day and you’re trying to take your mind off that, who knows? That’s your personal relationship with the cocktail. Do you remember the first one that you had? Did you discover it in a book before someone had made it for you or is it just one of those ones that was on your radar?
J: I found it in a book and then I made it.
J: So, I made it for myself and I thought, “This is really delicious.” When I opened Flatiron Lounge, it was 2003, you couldn’t really go to a lot of places and get a classic cocktail. Sasha could have made it for me at Milk & Honey, Audrey Saunders probably up at Bemelmans or where she was at that time. She was at, I don’t know, not even Bemelmans yet. She was at a different place when we opened Flatiron. So it was not the land of fresh juice and high-end cocktails that we experience today. New York City was still mostly Rose’s lime juice and sour mix on the gun and soda guns and terrible liquor, which was why a Flatiron was so successful very quickly. New Yorkers want the best of everything and they’re willing to travel for it so they were like, “Oh, high-end, really delicious cocktails.” Once you have one, you can’t go back.
T: Yeah, and what’s it like, I guess, in terms of being someone that now runs a team, multiple teams, seeing younger people getting into the industry. Does that ever strike you, the fact that they will never really be able to have that moment where they discover something in a book that hasn’t really been widely tried by the modern bartending community because that was the era of that, I’m guessing, the early 2000s?
J: I talk about that all the time with them. I’m like, “I infused tea into a spirit and it was like, ‘Wow.'” It was like, “I made a fresh ginger syrup and it was mind-blowing.” These are things that were cutting edge at the time and, yeah, now it’s tough to do things that haven’t been done before. Which is why I think so much has headed in this molecular direction. It’s like, “Oh, well, if I use this and I can make this into a different color and there’s smoke coming out of it.” And half the time, it’s just a show, and the drink isn’t necessarily better, but the general public is like, “Oh, it’s smoking,” or whatever.
T: What’s this massive bubble?
J: There’s a bubble popping on top of it that we see all over Instagram these days.
T: I see that as well.
J: But yeah, it was really exciting to be able to create things that hadn’t been done before. It was a fun time for me in the bar world and I had my friends. And when we were working on opening Pegu Club, Audrey was living in the basement of Flatiron, basically, just working on drinks and we would taste each other on things and I had infusions in the fridge and you know?
T: It’s incredible.
J: So, it was a cool time.
T: I often wonder whether we’re ever going to have another one of those moments. History does always repeat itself but at what cost? Do we have to return to the days of Rose’s to get there? In which case, I’m not sure we want to go there.
J: I feel like we’ve gotten there to a degree in the style of bars that people are opening. Back then, it was like you had to be, “No, we’re not like those sour mix people, we’re serious.” And we had the bartenders with the ties and the whole bit because they had to prove to the general public that what they were doing was higher end and these are gourmet cocktails, these are culinary cocktails and showing people what the difference was.
T: Yeah, and not even just that but, as you mentioned beforehand, the idea that you’re having to convince people as well of these ingredients. There’s a much greater understanding these days when it comes to it. Whether it’s agave spirits or mezcal, even, you really don’t need to push too hard. You’re pushing against an open door, I guess, the expression is.
J: Absolutely. And in Brooklyn, in particular, people are adventurous where we are, they’re willing to try things. I went on Kathie Lee & Hoda to do it, this bar trend segment when I was really first opening Clover Club and I did the Clover Club cocktail and they were like, “Egg whites?” And Kathie Lee was like, “I’m going to skip out on that one, I’m a wine lady.” It was really funny; they were just grossed out and I was like, “Have you ever had hollandaise sauce? Because there’s egg whites in a lot of things.”
T: Yeah, exactly. It’s 90 percent water as well.
T: It’s not going to kill you.
T: It’s fine.
J: Well, I’m like, “The booze is going to kill anything that’s there. But really, it’s safe,” yeah.
T: But I guess to the conversation’s point as well, though, we should also remind ourselves that there is an absolute wealth of drinks out there that most people, even people that think they’re pretty deep on this stuff don’t know. I was just pulling up a note here; I was trying to find something because often I’ll write down those ones. And I was at a bar recently and it was The Varnish in L.A. — shout-out to those guys — and they were like, “Have you had this drink? It’s one of Eric’s favorites, Dahlia’s Revenge.” I’ve never f*cking heard of it, it’s amazing. I’ve got it here: 2 ounces mescal, three-quarters lemon, three-quarters honey, three-to-one garnish of cayenne pepper, very nice. Now, I don’t know whether that’s a, I don’t think it’s a…
J: It’s a very Milk & Honey spec.
T: Yeah, yeah. Right, exactly.
T: So, I think that’s one of those but it never found its way into the modern classic realm but anyone could put that drink on their menu now and wow people.
T: Lots of ground still to cover there.
J: Yeah, for sure.
The History of the Clover Club
T: But we are going to look back in history because this is one of those cocktails, I believe, that does have something of a solid foundation when it comes to telling the tale. Can you spin that yarn for us today?
J: Yeah, yeah. So, the history of this drink is that it was created at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. It was a gentleman’s club in a way, not in the dirty way, but it was mostly…
T: Not the Bada Bing.
J: Political types, journalists, and they would have dinners and they would give speeches and they were known for razzing each other and yelling things out and it was a very intellectual group of people. And this was the house cocktail which I thought was so funny too, this fluffy pink drink was the house drink.
J: For a group of very smart men, I was like…
T: And again, we still have a long way to go but in a decidedly different era when it came to attitudes of all kinds of things that we don’t even need to get into right now.
J: No, the girly drink and the men, stop it, just stop it. But it was the turn of the century around when it was created. And when I decided to open Clover Club and we picked the location, David Wondrich is a dear friend of mine and he lives very close by and I was living in a different neighborhood of Brooklyn called Park Slope. And I talked to Dave and I was like, “Dave, what do you think?” because he’s lived there forever. And I was like, “Do you think Smith Street or Fifth Avenue or Seventh Avenue or Park Slope would be better for this bar?” And he was like, “Oh, it’s definitely Smith Street.” And he later admitted to me that, selfishly, he wanted to be able to walk to the bar, not that he couldn’t walk if it was over there, and he was also right. Smith Street was definitely the right location. But he knew that I was working on the spec for the strength and I was like, “It has to be perfect.” I was making different kinds of raspberry syrups, doing it with different styles, different sugar ratios and he came running in and he was like, “Julie, I found the oldest recipe for the Clover Club cocktail and it had dry vermouth in it.” And it was like this baaah, aha moment and we made the drink with the dry vermouth and suddenly it was this grown-up cocktail. It went from being a really yummy raspberry gin drink, just to having even at that half an ounce of dry vermouth, it just gave it something different and made it more of a grown-up beverage and less of a gin raspberry lemonade-y drink.
T: Yeah. No, I’ll be honest, during the prep for this show, I actually was reminding myself, going over ingredients in history and whatnot and it caught me off guard too. It was something that I knew that was there in the back of my mind but, if I was just trying to finagle one at home without access to the internet, what a great world that would be for five minutes at least. I would not have thought to include the dry vermouth and I love that component and getting into that. I guess, in the meantime, if we’re coming back up to, we’ve highlighted those two periods, early 2000s but then, also, before that turn of the century. You mentioned egg white. Is that the thing that basically brings down the Zeppelin for a little while there in the intervening years?
J: What do you mean?
T: Just negatively impacts the fortunes of this cocktail.
J: For sure. Especially, yeah, in the early aughts, anytime we did drinks with egg white, there were always people that were just like, “Ew.” And at Flatiron, we were still cracking the egg and all of that stuff. At Clover Club, we make so many Clover Clubs that we do egg whites in the beginning of the night and we also measure them because our spec ultimately ended up being an exactly measured amount of egg white as well. But yeah, people were squeamish about it, but then there were others that were adventurous and willing to try.
T: Yeah, that’s wonderful. So, the perfect person to be asking this question to, I think, which is, what are you looking for? And we can emphasize the look there too but also, just overall, what are you expecting from the version of this drink that you’ve come to know and pioneer?
J: You want all of the ingredients to speak for themselves. I think, sometimes, London Dry gins tend to be a little too piney and overtake the cocktail. You want to get the dry vermouth and the beautiful raspberry. You still want the botanicals from the gin but, yeah, it is a delicate drink in a way. And if you make it with a gin that’s super high- proof, for me, it’s not the best version of the drink and I’ve made it with just about every gin out there just to see.
T: Yeah, I’ve had it with a couple of different ones at your bar before, actually, and enjoyed it across a spectrum of styles. When it comes to that question, if I can add on maybe a second part to that: If you were advising someone who’s maybe making it for the first time or a younger bartender, what’s the one thing that you’re careful on this one? Is it the raspberry syrup that becomes too overpowering or maybe that style of gin that’s too juniper-forward like you said there? What’s the one that you’d be like, “Just be careful of this when you’re making it.”?
J: Yeah, I think their gin choice is the biggest thing. For me, when I first opened Clover Club, Plymouth was what I was using. A little bit more of a feminine-style gin, citrus forward, not the Tanqueray. And I love Tanqueray in other cocktails but it’s just a little bit too much for a Clover Club. So, I think, first and foremost, choosing the right gin and then the raspberry syrup is going to be the next thing. When I was making raspberry syrups for the drink, we were like, “OK, do we put it on the stove?” That heated up raspberry as opposed to fresh raspberry, just muddled raspberry. The stove, if you heat it up too much, you get that cooked pie flavor, you know what I mean?
J: The brightness goes away. So, we create ours without really heating it up at all.
The Ingredients Used in Reiner’s Clover Club
T: Yeah, let’s dive into that preparation.
J: Yeah, we’ll take the raspberries and superfine sugar and just macerate them together, let it get goopy and sit and then we add a certain amount of water, let it sit overnight and then make sure all that sugar is dissolved and then we fine strain out the solids and that’s our raspberry syrup.
T: And are you using any other ingredients there in the syrup? I’ve seen some posted online of recipes using spirits too.
J: You can fortify, yeah. Especially if you’re making it at home and you want it to stay for longer. We go through so much that we don’t have to. So, when you fortify a syrup, you’re adding an ounce of vodka to a quart and it just keeps it for longer.
J: And if you’re not going through it quickly, you definitely want to do that. We make so many Clover Clubs that we don’t have to because we just go through it fast.
T: You’d hope so. You never want to go to the bar that’s named after a cocktail and no one drinks that cocktail there. I’m not sure that bar exists, I’m hoping it doesn’t but I would feel bad for the people that run it. Good reminder too, the raspberry is not supposed to be an overly sweet fruit, right? It should be just as tart, maybe even a little sour in a way as it should be sweet and fruity.
T: That’s what you’re looking for when you’re buying those in an ideal world.
J: In an ideal world. And yeah, we’re making Clover Clubs year round; clearly, raspberries are better some times a year than others so you may have to edit your quantities. I think that by making the syrup, you get a better raspberry flavor than you do if you were to muddle raspberries in simple syrup, which is how a lot of people make a Clover Club at home and you can absolutely do that, too. But I think that, if you are going to do it that way, muddle them in the syrup and then let it sit there for a little bit before you go make the cocktail. Sugar is a great conductor of flavor and it’ll pull out a lot of that out of your raspberries. But if you just muddle, build the drink and shake and strain, you don’t get as much of that raspberry.
T: And from a balance perspective, if we’re talking about zero being bone dry and 10 being the nicest sweet wine Tokaji you’ve ever had in your life, lusciously sweet, where does this, for you, this syrup sit on that scale?
J: Gosh, I think ours is somewhere maybe around a 7.5.
T: OK, nice.
J: Somewhere in there. It’s technically a one-to-one syrup. You have to take into account the amount of water inside the raspberries and that accounts for how much water you add to the sugar and the raspberries.
T: And, of course, as you said as well, yeah, that’s just slightly north of five there on the scale but let’s also remember that we are using dry vermouth in this. So, do you want to talk us through that as well? What are your considerations? What’s your preference there when it comes to this cocktail?
J: Yeah, we use Dolin dry vermouth. For me, Dolin dry vermouth is such a workhorse for vermouth. It’s right down the center, it doesn’t have too many herbal notes going on, and it’s the perfect vermouth for this cocktail.
T: Mmhmm, that’s great.
J: I tried it out with Noilly Prat early on, Martini dry, but the Dolin really was the best one for us.
T: I hear that. And then of course, yeah, we did mention gin, so you’re definitely looking… Plymouth would’ve been one of those historically earlier ones that moves away from that profile but you’re happy to go even maybe a little bit further than the Plymouth when it goes more towards citrusy or fruity or floral these days rather than the classic London Dry template.
J: Absolutely. I think, the Japanese gins, I played around with some of the different Japanese gins that are out there and they make some beautiful Clover Clubs because they do have that green tea and yuzu and some of them have very different flavor profiles that really work well in this cocktail. And there are people who like a more juniper- forward gin in their Clover Club and they like it to be a little bit drier. I’ll use Fords Gin for those people.
T: Yeah, great pick there.
J: Yeah, Fords is one of my favorites so I can recommend that if you do like a little bit more juniper in your Clover Club.
T: And also for other folks maybe just getting into it, too, that do like maybe an Aviation for this one as well, I’m not sure. That style too, I think that’s a good one. But many gins are available out there, that’s the thing.
J: It’s nuts. When I opened Flatiron, there were five gins that we had and that was it. And now it’s, man, there’s Barr Gill Gin and there’s so many gins and everybody wants us to carry it.
T: Yeah, it’s hard.
J: I’m just like, “It’s very difficult.” I’m like, “Look at this back bar at Clover Club, if I bring something in, I have to get rid of something.”
T: Yeah, such a shame. Yeah, we had Dale on a few weeks back and he was saying 7,000 gins in the world these days, apparently, which doesn’t surprise me if you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom anytime recently, everything is gin there. It’s back there in a big way. Final component of the drink, well, two final components. Wait, getting ahead of ourselves here. Lemon juice or egg white, which one do you want to discuss first and how deep do you want to go on either of them?
J: Lemon juice, we can talk lemon juice. Fresh squeezed, strain it.
T: There you go. You’re a strainer.
J: Yes, I’m a no-pulp lady. Strain out the pulp, juice it fresh.
T: There we go.
J: That’s all I got for you on that. And then the egg white, this is a drink that… It’s interesting because raspberry and egg white, raspberry just blows up with egg white; you don’t need very much. I think that’s probably the biggest mistake people make is that they will put, OK, they see in a book, it’s the white of one egg. Well, when this drink was created, the eggs were half the size of the eggs today.
T: That makes so much sense, yeah.
J: Yeah. So, one egg, you can make three with one egg.
T: Yeah, yeah.
J: We do somewhere between a quarter- and a half an ounce of egg white and we measure it. I realized that in my R&D early on that we really didn’t need as much as we thought we did.
T: That makes so much sense too. And also, back then, eggs wouldn’t have been as fresh. If you’ve ever tried to make a poached egg with an old egg there and you just see that thing go into the water, you can stir, you can add vinegar, you can do all the tricks in the book to make the perfect poached egg. You just need a fresh one and it just dissipates, that’s it and that happens over time. So, again, speaks to why you might need a full one to get that nice emulsification and that beautiful fluffy head.
J: Yeah, exactly.
How to Make Julie Reiner’s Clover Club
T: Let’s talk about the preparation now and, also, can you do so with the ingredients, not the ingredients, sorry. Well, the ingredients, too, if you’re making for us here today but also the quantities and, yeah, just talk us through it start to finish.
J: Yeah. So, yeah, for me, I will generally start with my raspberry syrup and my lemon juice followed by my dry vermouth and the gin and then I’ll add the egg white last just so that I can make sure it doesn’t get cooked. I learned that lesson in a very sad way. I was about to open Flatiron and we did a big batch of Clover Clubs for New York Magazine’s event and I was actually next to Dave, who was doing a different drink. And I had my batch there and we put the egg whites in the batch and then we got to the, and I went to shake it and I was like, “Where’s the frothy hood?” And the egg whites, you can’t add it and let it sit in the lemon juice because…
T: No, no, no.
J: Duh. But again, that was back in the day. I was learning things as I went because there really wasn’t anybody to teach you a lot of these things. So, anyway.
T: Why is it always that these lessons come along, by the way, when it’s a high-stakes moment?
J: I know. So, the funny thing was…
T: Always the event, isn’t it.
J: It tasted the same, really. It just didn’t look the same, it didn’t have the same froth and I was like, “Oh, well.” But anyway, add the egg white last and then we do the “dry shake,” which is really just a shake without ice, it’s not dry at all. So, shake without ice first to mix everything together, emulsify that egg white, get that froth started, then add your ice in and shake and then strain. No double straining because you’re just popping all those beautiful bubbles and killing your own froth that you really want to be on top of this drink.
J: I played around with the reverse dry shake and I did some… So, I was playing with it and I was like, “Oh.” It actually really does create a large froth but the bubbles are bigger and it flattens quickly. And I was messing around with it around the time that it was another, somebody asked me to do a video and now it’s out on the internet of me doing the reverse dry shake and I’m like, “Oh, this is not what we do at all.”
T: And then, “This is how Julie does it.”
J: I was like, “Damn it.”
J: See? That was one of those I was sucked in by bartenders trying to create things that hadn’t been done yet. This is how we do it, we do the reverse dry shake. Well, reverse dry shake is bullshit. So, yeah, don’t do that. And for those who don’t know, the reverse dry shake is when you shake it with ice first and then you strain it back into your tin and then you shake it without the ice after you’ve already shaken it but it’s not…
T: And the thinking being that, yeah, you get more impressive maybe from a visual standpoint, the head but not as…
J: The texture is wrong. It makes the bubbles on top in the froth larger but the texture is not as creamy.
T: Yeah, exactly.
J: These are the minutiae of the cocktail.
T: It’s more like night and day between the two components of the cocktail rather than a smooth transition that you’re trying to make.
J: Exactly, yeah. And you want it to be a nice froth that’s going to stay and you know.
T: It’s like drinking a well-poured pilsner versus a Guinness.
T: I’ll take the Guinness. And so, preferred glassware for this and then final touches on the garnish front.
J: Yeah. Well, always a coupe if it’s me. Yeah, a coupe glass and we garnish with a raspberry on a pick.
T: Single or three?
T: Why never two?
J: I don’t know. I’ve broken that rule so many times. There are some people who are real sticklers about bad luck, I don’t know.
T: I heard a theory, when it comes to olives in Martinis, that apparently, I might be getting this wrong. Actually, we ran a little historical piece on VinePair about it where it was like, if you had two olives served to you in your Martini by your bartender, apparently he was trying to tell you the mob was putting a hit on you. I’m not sure whether that is true and to how many people that was relevant. I might be butchering that.
J: That sounds like a story that Dave will 86, he’ll tell you…
T: Butcher, yeah.
J: No, that’s not true. All the good stories.
T: It’s also funny you mentioned earlier, yourself being in Park Slope and Dave being a little further west there as we look at it. Just my experience of drinks media versus bartenders, it tends to be the opposite way around when it comes to New York but, I don’t know, maybe that’s going a little bit too deep on that one. Both very good neighborhoods.
J: Yeah. I live in Gowanus now so I’m right in the middle.
T: Never short of a good place for a drink right there.
T: Well, that’s wonderful. We’ve prepared the drink, we’ve done the historical deep dive, we’ve looked at all the ingredients. Any final thoughts on the Clover Club today?
J: I guess my thought is that I’m really happy that so many people know about it now and that it is something that I’ve seen riffs on and different things. It’s cool, it’s a drink that should be very popular and it’s become that and I picked a good one.
T: How many times a week, maybe in the early days, did you ever get people sitting at the bar, can imagine the situation, maybe someone’s mansplaining something and going, “You know, they actually invented this cocktail here, Clover Club.”
J: Oh, yeah, no. I’ve had people say that to me. Oh, Julie created this drink. I’m like, “No, no.” Nope, I just grabbed onto it and took it for a ride.
T: You gave it a platform.
T: Gave it its wings, set it free into the world.
Getting to Know Julie Reiner
T: Wonderful. Well, why don’t we transition here into the final part of our show where we get to know you more as a bartender and as a drinker.
T: Let’s do it.
J: I like it.
T: Question No. 1: What style or category of drink spirit typically enjoys the most real estate on your back bar?
T: It would be weird if it were anything other than that.
T: Question No. 2: Which ingredient or tool is the most undervalued in a bartender’s arsenal?
J: That’s a real tough one. I was going to say tongs, I’d like to see more tong use.
T: Mmhmm. Especially in this day and age.
J: Yeah, I think the optics on that are good and grabbing things with tongs makes the guests very happy. But yeah, I feel like they’re… And maybe teaspoon measures also, that’s another one where people are like, “Oh, a bar spoon,” but now their bar spoons are different sizes and knowing exactly… If we’re going to measure specifically with jiggers, using teaspoon and tablespoon measures as well.
T: That makes a lot of sense, yeah. I’m here for that.
T: Question No. 3: What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve received while working in this industry?
J: Early on, somebody told me, when you get press, you just read it, smile about it, and then set it aside and keep working. Because the minute you start believing your own press and thinking that you’re the shit, you lose your edge. Somebody said that to me in 2004 and I was like, “You’re right.”
J: So, I think that’s it.
T: That’s a good one. I like that one. Question No. 4: If you could only visit one last bar in your life, what would it be?
J: It would be the House Without A Key in Hawaii on Oahu, which is in the Halekulani Hotel and it’s just an open- air bar where you can have a delicious Mai Tai or a Daiquiri and it comes with a sunset. So, I’ll always take my final cocktail with a sunset, please, in my favorite place.
T: Which is a lovely little segue there into the final question of today’s show to round it all out. If you knew that the next cocktail you drank was going to be your last, what would you order or make?
J: OK. It’s hard to choose one because, for me, it very much depends on the weather. So, if it’s spring, summer, it’s going to be an ice-cold gin Martini of some sort perhaps with a little bit of fino sherry in it. I’m a big fan of a Tuxedo. And if it’s fall, winter, it’s a Manhattan, for sure. I have three cocktails that I probably make for myself most often and it’s a Martini, a Manhattan, and a Negroni.
T: Mmhmm. Classics.
J: Yeah, you know, you taste a lot of drinks, those are the ones that you make for yourself.
T: Well, it’s interesting as well, you mentioned the Martini and the Manhattan, do you believe, a couple of years ago, speaking of Dave Wondrich, do you think he wrote an article saying that it’s more likely that the Martini evolved out of the Manhattan than the Martinez, which is commonly assumed?
T: That makes a lot of sense in my mind.
J: It does, yeah, it absolutely does. The amount of microfiche that Dave looks at, I believe him.
T: I always like to think, “Where does he get this stuff? It’s fantastic.” But then, on the other hand, I’m like, “Sometime you just don’t want to know. You don’t want to know, you just let it be out there. Dave’s doing his thing, it’s great.”
J: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. He’s squashed so many of the… Early on, we had all these Count So and So stories, all these stories about this drink was created by this person and bartenders just made it up, they never wrote anything down. And then Dave is like, “Well, that couldn’t have happened because so and so was born in this year and this was at,” you know? Damn it, Dave, stop it. Now we have nothing to talk about.
T: Has quashed many a cocktailians’ dreams with his truths there.
J: It’s true, it’s true.
T: Oh, we need to get him on one day. I need to figure out which drink that would be that we reach out to him for. But listen, Julie, thank you so much for coming in today.
J: Yes, my pleasure.
T: It’s been a great chat.
J: Yes, great, thanks for having me.
T: Looking forward to having some Clover Club sometime in the near future.
J: Please. Let me know, I’ll make one for you.
T: Sounds great.
OK, that was a lot of info, but here’s the good news. Every single episode of VinePair’s Cocktail College is also published on VinePair.com as a transcript. So you can check it out there all over again.
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Now, for the credits. “Cocktail College” is recorded and produced in New York City by myself and Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director and all-around podcast guru. Of course, I want to give a huge shout-out to everyone on the VinePair team. Too many awesome people to mention. They know who they are. I want to give some credit here to Danielle Grinberg, art director at VinePair, for designing the awesome show logo. And listen to that music. That’s a Darbi Cicci original. Finally, thank you, listener, for making it this far and for giving this whole thing a purpose. Until next time.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.