I find myself in Cobble Hill just shy of happy hour. Clover Club has been on my list for ages, based only on its reputation as one of the best cocktail bars in New York. I walk a few blocks to find a coffee until the bar opens; enter a shop with fragrant, fancy soaps and trinkets no one actually needs (i.e. a collapsible 2 oz. tin cup).
“You’ve already played J. Cole. I don’t think the Weekend is the vibe,” one of the employees says, asking the other what to play next.
“I generally can’t with the Weekend,” the other replies. The neighborhood is an even third split of store types, clearly mid-gentrification. One awning reads “Rainbow Gift Shop” with cheap trinkets, across the corner is a Dominoes pizza, and the store in which I sit screams white-people-with-money.
Caffeinated, I enter the vestibule to enter the bar. It does feel fancy, or at least well-behaved, as I was pre-warned. The bartop is wooden, as is the backbar. Perhaps this is considered one of the best bars for its homage to the classic in its cocktails and its aesthetic. I spy some favorites on the back bar – Gran Classico, Braulio, and essentially everything else one would need for a well crafted beverage. Endless syrup bottles are aligned on the bar and Christmas music attempts to take the classic vibe into the season.
My drink arrives, the Chambery Sling (gin, tropical tea-infused vermouth, pineapple, lime, cherry liquor). It takes like the tropical tea infusion, almost like the bottled lemon flavored Lipton ice tea I used to buy from convenience stores in high school. The gin is muted, the beverage slammable on crushed ice.
I glance around to a bar that knows what it is doing. Something about it is too stuffy for me, though I recognize its elegance precision. Despite the highly drinkable sweet tea with gin, I need to continue on my way and close out. I cannot help but wonder what the place is like at its peak. And yet, I am content with my singular, brief experience of the bar with much renown.