Friday Night Cocktail: Clover Club

Although winter has held on for too long this year, spring finally seems to have set up shop, and my drinking habits are making their seasonal shift from brown spirits to white. And since it’s Easter weekend, what could be more appropriate than a drink with eggs?

I’ve written about certain egg-based cocktails before, but flips are primarily a winter drink for me; I find them too rich for warmer weather. Fortunately, there’s a whole other group of drinks that traditionally involve eggs: sours. Whether it’s a Whisky Sour, a Pisco Sour, or a less prosaically named cocktail like the Clover Club, there are lots of “spirit, sugar and citrus” drinks out there that call for egg whites.

And why is that? What do egg whites bring to a cocktail? For one thing, they produce a head of foam on top, which is nice in its own right – ask any beer drinker – and can also be used as a canvas for “painting” with bitters. (This is especially common with Pisco Sours.) They also smooth out the texture of the drink, and take some of the bite out of the citrus.

Although the risk of food-borne illness from raw eggs is relatively low, many people are still hesitant to use them. Fortunately, there’s a workaround: powdered egg whites, which come pasteurized. You just have to know how to use them. First, make sure you’re using pure egg whites, and not meringue powder. Second, hydrate the egg whites before adding the rest of the ingredients. Third, never add powdered egg whites directly to alcohol, or they’ll clump together. Fourth, always clean your mixing glasses thoroughly afterward.

When converting a recipe from fresh egg whites to powdered, I use Darcy’s recommendation that 2 teaspoons of powdered egg whites plus an ounce of water is about equal to a whole egg white. But keep in mind that not all recipes need a whole egg white. In many cases, half will do, so feel free to experiment until you find an amount that works for you.

What I like best about powdered egg whites is their convenience: I don’t always have fresh whites on hand, and I think it’s wasteful to crack an egg for a drink and throw out the yolk. That said, I know other cocktail aficionados who feel that powdered egg whites don’t offer as good a texture or as clean a flavour as fresh. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with them.

How to make a Clover Club cocktail

  • 1 fresh egg white, or 2 teaspoons powdered egg white
  • 1.5 oz. London dry gin
  • 0.75 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.75 raspberry syrup
  • Dash of orange bitters (optional, and not traditional, but I am assured it doesn’t hurt)

If using powdered egg whites, measure them into a mixing glass, add an ounce of water, and mix thoroughly, making sure the powder is thoroughly dissolved. (An Aerolatte or equivalent is perfect for this.) If using fresh eggs, simply crack the egg, drop the white into the mixing glass, and discard the shell and yolk. Add the remaining ingredients, fill the glass with ice, and shake hard for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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