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Clover Club


slkinsey
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Clover Club should be open as of this evening.

I stopped by for a pre-opening friends and family yesterday evening, and can report that it is one of the very most beautiful and comfortable cocktail bars you are likely to see. For those few not already in the know, Clover Club is the new Brooklyn bar of Julie Reiner and her group, which brought the pioneering cocktail bar, Flatiron Lounge, to Manhattan. Flatiron Lounge, along with Pegu Club and Milk & Honey, has been one of the major sites for developing and nurturing cocktailian bartenders in the City, so it's no surprise that Clover Club is packed with talent. There are some familiar faces, and some talented up-and-comers behind the bar.

I'll have more later, but here are a few pictures:

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The space is absolutely amazing. Exposed brick, an antique bar and pressed tin ceiling in the front room; then go down some stairs to the separate back bar, which has an antiqued mirrored ceiling and a fireplace.

It's quite convenient to the F train.

(Fixed formatting)

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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As far as I know, the front bar (and often the back one as well) is going to be open to the public without a reservation, just like it is at Flatiron, Pegu, etc.

It's not a small space -- substantially larger than PDT or D&C. I'm sure it will be quite busy Thursday - Saturday, just like they all are. But I imagine you should be able to get a table or a spot at the bar Sunday - Wednesday with relative ease.

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More Clover Club pictures from last night. Please excuse my crappy photographical skills and Play Skool-quality camera. I'm posting them because of the intense interest and numerous requests.

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Here is a flash picture of the main bar.

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This is an ambient light picture of the main bar.

Look at the wood detailing on the top! I'm sure you can't see from these pictures, but the tops of the bar are adorned with fire-breathing dragons, complete with gigantic naked breasts. Julie told me some interesting history about the bar, but I'm afraid I don't recall in sufficient detail to relate that history now. I'll see if I can get the info a little later on. Both this bar and the bar at Flatiron Lounge are historical bars that were "saved," refinished, relocated and refurbished for her NYC bars.

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A view of the main bar room. There is a whole section of tables behind me (which leads to the front door).

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A closer, albeit sadly out-of-focus look at the pressed tin ceiling.

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Ambient picture of the back bar room. Note the fireplace, etc.

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Flash picture of the back bar room.

This area is more "club-like" with Victorian-era furniture and a marble fireplace. It's going to be a special area that features a much wider range of cocktails, including all those Julie, her crews and friends have developed over the years, special glassware, guest bartenders, parties, lectures/classes/demonstrations, reservations area, etc. It's a great feature, not dissimilar to the "two restaurants in one" concept familiar from many of Danny Meyer's restaurants.

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Here is the supremely talented Giuseppe Gonzalez, who many of you may know from Flatiron Lounge.

He's going to be behind the stick at Clover Club now. As it so happens, he was making us an...

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Improved Whiskey Cocktail. And they're serving them old school, on the rock.

That's right, I said "rock" -- singular. Another nice thing they're doing there is using cylindrical pieces of ice for some of their drinks on ice. The cylinder of ice fits neatly inside their glassware with just enough room for the booze. You can see it lurking just under the surface in that picture.

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Here's a piece of that ice, after melting out in my drink for around 10 minutes. Nice size.

Eater has beautiful, professional pictures that more accurately reflect what the place really looks like here.

More later...

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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FWIW, it's Giuseppe ("i" before the "u"). Not a big deal, but since this is a somewhat common (and perplexing) mispelling of this name and we're likely to mention his work in this thread, I thought I'd mention it now.

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More on Clover Club in The Brooklyn Paper

The article mentions Julie's desire to bring "classy, swanky cocktail lounges" to the neighborhood, the punches they will have on offer ("my answer to bottle service"), the food from chef Gavin Citron -- and includes a nice picture of the always-pulchritudinous Ms. Reiner making a Julep at the bar.

I liked this quote especially:

For all of the haughty hooch and epicurean ingredients, though, Reiner hopes that her bar will be a neighborhood joint and destination for folks weary of having to take the subway for an upscale drinking experience.

"People call me a 'mixologist,' but I just like to stick with 'bartender,' " said Reiner. "At my other bars, we’re very well known for the cocktails we do. It's definitely serious mixology, but my goal is to have a bar that’s rea'ly fun as well. In our [professional] community, it's gotten overly serious to where it’s not fun, so we’re trying to bring it down a notch and still put out a high quality product."

This is something both Julie and Audrey have mentioned from time to time lately. The NYC cocktail community has become awfully serious lately, with drinks seeming to get dryer, boozier and more bitter with every cycle; and cocktailians looking down their noses at lighter, fruitier, sweeter libations as well as the bars that include them on their menus. I think there's room for both sides of the coin, and one of the things I've always admired about Julie's bars is that they're places where a serious-minded cocktailian can go for a serious-minded cocktail, but they're also places a relative neophyte can go to have a more approachable libation that it just as "cocktailian" as the hard-core drinks. There's more to cocktails than brown spirits stirred with vermouth, a herbal liqueur or two and a healthy whallop of bitters.

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More on Clover Club from Metromix New York.

A few of the Q&As below...

So you will be taking reservations for the back room?

Yes, it’s going to be my Milk and Honey–style space. It’s going to be small and intimate and you have to be sat back there, so there will be no standing. We will be able to do private parties as well. We’ve been referring to it as the parlor. We wanted it to feel like you were sitting in somebody’s living room in the ‘20s.

Is there going to be a secret number?

No, I’m not really into that. All of my spaces are accessible to the public.

What cocktails would you say are unique to Clover Club?

The Market Street julep (pisco, pineapple and mint) is really different. Clearly pisco and pineapple go together beautifully. The gin blossom (gin, apricot eau de vie, martini bianco and orange bitters) is really smooth and an easy drinking cocktail. The Bermuda swizzle (dark rum, pineapple, lime, velvet falernum, sugar) is delicious. I had one last night, in fact. 

You’re known for rehabbing old bars and retrofitting them into spaces. Where did Clover Club’s originate?

We found it in this old mining town called Sugar Notch, Pennsylvania. There’s a guy who finds old bars and matches them up with people—he was the same guy we bought the Flatiron bar from—and he found this bar in an old house that the miners used to live in. So we took it apart and brought it to Brooklyn.

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While I'm posting, here's a first look at the menu. This is available in various places around the interwebs, but I thought I'd summarize it here so it can provide context for future reports on experiences at the bar. Once nice feature is that the menus will be printed on nice paper, rather than inserted into the usual heavy leather book as they are at Flatiron and Pegu. This means you can take yours home, if you like.

The menu at Clover Club is somewhat smiliar to the menu at Flatiron Lounge, only expanded (in some interesting directions). This means that it consists of acknowledged classics, some "new classics" and a nice sprinkling of entirely new creations from Julie and her crew. This is not a menu that places a great deal of emphasis on new techniques and the unexpected, as with Tailor and some of the offerings at PTD. It's cocktails in the classic tradition.

The menu is divided into sections, consisting of sours & daisies, collins & fizzes, bucks & mules, cobblers & highballs, juleps & smashes, swizzles, royales, cocktails, and punches. Each section is prefaced with a short history, explanation and/or anecdote.

The sours & daisies included the Tequila Daisy, New York Sour, and Chaz Baker's Daisy De Santiago. We had a chance to sample all of these. It's especially fun to see people progress through surprise, puzzlement and pleasure upon reacting to the tannins in the claret float on top of the NY Sour.

Under collins & fizzes were the Southside Fizz ("London Style," which I think explains the otherwise unorthodox inclusion of cucumber), Hoffman House Fizz and Bohemian Fizz (gin, elderflower, lemon, soda).

Bucks & mules brings us Grandma's Buck (rhum agricole, sour apple juice, gingerale), the Gin Gin Mule, and the El Diablo, which I believe comes from Trader Vic. I'm anxious to sample Grandma's Buck. The other two were not featured at the opening party, but I've had them any number of times at both Flatiron and Pegu, and they're as delicious and refreshing as can be.

Now we start getting into parts of the menu that (re)break some fertile ground. Cobblers & highballs offers a Madrono Cobbler (a tweaked Sherry Cobbler including oloroso sherry, amaro and muddled strawberry), a Champagne Cobbler and a Hemingway Cobbler (essentially, a Hemmingway Daiquiri served cobbler-style). I haven't had the chance to try any of these yet, but they will be on the top of my list. What synchronicity that, just when I was thinking of exploring cobblers, here comes a whole menu section devoted to them!

Juleps & smashes is also a category I really like to see. It's not too manmy bars that will feature three crushed ice categories (Swizzles on the way!) that are this labor-intensive. As you can see from my pictures above, Clover Club has nice barware for their Juleps as well, and the bar staff are sufficiently well versed in Julepry that they won't have any trouble going off menu in this direction. In fact, the traditional bourbon Julep we sampled at the party doesn't seem to be on the menu. Instead, we find the Highland Smash (scotch, lemon, mint, honey), the Market Street Julep (pisco, pineapple, mint) and the Jersey Julep (applejack, mint, maple syrup). This is what I mean about "cocktails in the classic tradition."

For swizzles there are the Bermuda Swizzle, Queens Park Swizzle, and Negroni Swizzle. I had the chance to try the Negroni Swizzle when Giuseppe was working on it down at Flatiron. It’s compounded exactly how you might expect, but the swizzling and crushed ice creates an entirely different impression. Bermuda Swizzles were in great supply at the party, and theirs is a good one. They certainly aren't stingy with the Angostura bitters, making this drink at once warm and spicy, cold and refreshing.

For royales they have the French 75 (pictured above), Charles Baker’s Burra Peg, and the Sorrello from Flatiron (muddled orange, campari, punt e mes, champagne). Hard to go wrong with these, and they're priced to sell -- especially for champagne drinks.

Under Cocktails is the Clover Club, of course, the popular Slope from Flatiron (and quite popular among eGullet cocktailians) the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, the Gin Blossom (gin, apricot eau de vie, martini bianco, orange bitters), the Mole Old Fashioned (mezcal, mole agave nectar, angostura & orange Bitters), the Black Maamba (rye whiskey, pommeau de normandie, green chartreuse -- Giuseppe’s twist on the Copperhead/Diamondback meme), the Bramble and the Perthshire from Flatiron (single malt scotch, mandarin orange, lillet blonde, lemon, spice). I’ve had all of these, except for the Mole Old Fashioned and the Gin Blossom. You can see the picture of the old school ice they’re using upthread. The Black Maamba is a good introduction for those who may be working their way into boozier, herbal cocktails as the use of pommeau de normandie in place of the usual bonded applejack lightens things up considerably.

Last, but not least, is the selection of punches, all served in vingate punchbowls for 4 to 8. As Julie says, "it's my answer to bottle service." They have their Clover Punch (gin, lemon, blackberry, allspice, champagne) a Pimms Punch and the classic Algonquin Bar Punch (Jamaican rum, sloe gin, lemon, sugar, raspberry).

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Stopped in on Sat after mermaid parade at about 6:30 and it was pretty busy - the bar was full, and most tables were as well. Tried a couple of cocktails, really enjoyed the Southside Fizz, a nice twist on one of my favorite summer cocktails. The back space is incredibly cool.

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  • 2 months later...

Stopped in here for a couple drinks and generally agree with what's been said. Since I'm not of the cocktail A-team I can't speak at great length about the drinks I tried. They were well-balanced and not too sweet. I did appreciate how the menu is broken down categorically, as I often find myself choosing a drink more on type than base spirit. There is perhaps less of the new-age pageantry that influence Tailor and PDT, but I can't say it's missed here. The program fits the space and vibe well.

Since I was there on a Tuesday night I can't really speak to the crowd. The room feels kind of like Flatiron+. A bit nicer, a bit more vintage-y. The back room wasn't open because it wasn't crowded, but I could see how it would be a welcome respite from the crowds up front. Neither room offers the intimacy of a PDT, D&Co. or M&H, however. Better to go here with a friend or small group than on an important date.

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