Review: The Clover Club

by KeithP on March 30, 2010

Place: The Clover Club

Rating: 4 ½ stars (out of 5 stars) – based on one attendance

Type: Bar/Lounge – Speakeasy type

Location: Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, New York

Scene: hipster fun, trendy, a to be seen scene, a great third date spot

Why should you go? Simple – you will have some of the best made cocktails around.  Stay on the menu or go off with the bartender’s choice … you will not be sorry with either.  Great service from the wait staff in a clubby, comfortable atmosphere that makes you want to stay put for some time.

Drawbacks: frankly not much that we could see especially where it counts, the atmosphere, drinks and service.  A bit disconnected between the wait staff/hostesses at the front of the house with what’s going on at the back of the house. When it gets busy get to the restroom (I could only find two uni-sexes downstairs) early or else bring your drink with you as you will be waiting for a while.

Profile: Opened in 2008 by NYC cocktail star Julie Reiner (who also is part owner of Pegu Club and owner of the Flatiron Lounge), the Clover Club takes the NYC speakeasy craze across the river to Brooklyn where it is toned down a slight notch and made some what more homey.  The front part of the bar comprises the bulk of the layout with good seating at the front and via a raised banquet like row of tables in the middle which overlook the main bar.  Homemade tinctures and every imaginable bottle of bitters line the bar counter and beyond is the ubiquitous bottle of everything lining the deep shelves and with several bartenders holding court.

Head down (but ask the hostess first!) a small set of stairs just the other side of the main bar and you will enter the small backroom.  Upon entering you feel as if you just arrived at an old school men’s club – the room has a smaller self contained bar area, adequate seating and nice fire place.  Pull up a seat and relax and prepare yourself for some fantastic drinks.

How are the drinks? In a word, excellent.  It is clear that Julie has selected bartenders who are well trained in the cocktail arts crafting drinks from a well balanced menu across various types or styles of drinks.

Four of us were in attendance this night and we tried a variety of options both on and off the menu.  The best drink of the night by far (and the subject of a recent write up under Project Recreate) was selected by the Rave who tried not once but twice, the Kentucky Stinger – a cool riff on the classic Stinger that combines rye, cognac, amaro and chocolate bitters into an utterly sublime drink.  TheSpeakista and the Godfather opted for drinks on and off the menu – on the menu we sampled the Wooden Nickel and the Improved Whiskey Cocktail.  The Wooden Nickel tasted similar in many respects to a Twentieth Century and Twenty First Century cocktails – it was quite nice but I think the aged scotch was somewhat lost in the mix and stronger, Islay style scotch might have been better. We both went off the menu several times with bartenders choices (see recent posting under Project Manhattan for Nick’s Riff and the Kensington) and were not sorry.  The least favorite of the night was had by the Boss who selected the Colletti Royale a mixture of tequila, orange liquor, blood orange juice and champagne that tasted like a somewhat flat mimosa … no real spark from the tequila or citrus.

Who will like this place: anyone who likes to go out, have a great time in a relaxed setting and have exceptionally well crafted cocktails prepared and served by professional who clearly enjoy what they are doing.

Who isn’t going to like this place: the dead, those with numb palates, and other assorted misfits.

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