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Podcast Summary:

“Anyway, I’ll Drink to That” is a Boozn Sam’s production, exploring the fun, quirky, and fascinating tales of drinks that define culture, history and the world. Every drink has a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it…as true as I can. Hosted by Sam, from Boozn Sam’s. Saddle up with a good cocktail and give me a few minutes of your time for a mystery surrounding a drink that changed the world.

Episode 18 Notes:

The story of William and the famous clover club filled with people worth knowing. William was a guest in the clover club. William brought something very important to the club, and he also consumed some very important. Something very famous. A drink, that is known around the world.

Transcript of Podcast:

*This is the entire podcast episode in written form. Do not read if you want the audio version to be spoiled.

The thing about the club…is that you can talk about the club…mostly because everyone wants to be in the club, and only a select few can. Yet, it was no surprise that William got an invite to this most elite of clubs. Or, that he found himself where he was now; his Irish butt buried into the plush, brown leather sofa, surround by other distinguished captains, who were all looking at him expectantly, waiting for him to speak. 

Although this was’t new to William, he was used to being at the front of the room leading others, he wasn’t used to what he knew would come next. The other captains gathered looked screwed too, and they hadn’t earned their spots in this room without being smart. That would make what came next a combination of ruthless honesty veiled in humor. Good humor contains honesty, after all. Yet, William would have to remind himself that this club wasn’t out to get him.

There was, in the entire history of the club, only one individual that hadn’t received the usual roasting at the end of his talk. William understood why. It would have been unbecoming. These were gentleman and no one was silly enough to insult the President of the United States.  

This monthly affair, with the captains surrounding him, was a way for them all to let off some steam, and the good natured roasting that was to follow his talk, was a sort of inclusion practice. Plus, you didn’t become a captain without having a thick skin. It was a mark of status really, a symbol of what you had endured in order to be a captain, and one that he didn’t take lightly.    

As his hand went to the pink, tart drink his eyes went to the sign hanging above the entranceway of the club. 

“Who enters here leaves care behind, leaves sorrow behind, leaves petty envies and jealousies behind.”

He enjoyed the world play of it, the elegance. It was almost…poetic. And no doubt written by one of these highly learned captains in this very room. 

William took in the smells of leather, cigars and oak. Some of the faces were familiar but many he didn’t know. It wasn’t crowded. Membership was very limited. Exclusive. The club brought people together though, filled with its secrets and its drinks…one drink, that he was putting back right now. A famous drink, which stood out as ironic during the early 1900’s, considering what sort of club they were in. Or, if you know anything about the roaring 20’s era…maybe not.  

And William had come a long way to try this drink, although that wasn’t why he was here. It was a happy coincidence. He’d found his way to America from Ireland, where he was born. He came of age at an…interesting time in Ireland, when the identity of the country was shifting. And William, had been deeply entrenched in that shift if alone for the sole reason that he was aligned with the political and religion group that was rising to power at the time. 

They were searching for their identity and, in many ways, William’s upbringing in that environment, raised deep questions that also had him questioning identity. In the But, amidst this great upheaval, William found his way to London, following his family.   

William wondered about the Captains around him now. Had they lived similar lives and found their way to the United States just as he had? In some ways, although he had no reason to be, he felt a bit intimidated. There were many distinguished captains around him, and the club had been around since 1880.  

There was Moses, the club’s president, who was very influential and had been for many years. He’d taken the club from meager, isolated beginnings and expanded it, stretching it’s reach to many captains all through Philadelphia. And by the 1900’s, before prohibition had arrived, it was a place oozing with power, success and money. And all of this success and money drank a drink, named after the club, and started by the club. 

It was a pink drink. 

The clover club…

Was an old boy’s club.

Only men were allowed in the club at the time

But, if their pink drink of choice tells you anything about this men to should signal that they were sophisticated captains, embracing a good thing regardless of any sort of level or fear of stigma for choosing a drink that imbued many feminine characteristics. 

These were men, confident in who they were as men. In a club, like any other club in Philadelphia at the time. 

In the Bellevue Hotel, the 19 story tall building that became a hangout for the rich and powerful. A place for charity balls, club get togethers, politicians and heads of states, businessman, writers, and special meetings. Fifteen presidents had dined and stayed there. Fifteen. Teddy Roosevelt was the first. And Ronald Regan was the last. 

In fact, the old boy’s club that William was attending, often brought some of these captains together. There were 35 members in the club and William was not one of them. He was a guest, chosen to give a talk to the group. Just like many others before him. His type of captain was… the original type admitted to this club. But, they’d expanded when they formalized the club with charter documents and changed the name, to the name of the drink they were drinking now.

A drink that had a bit of luck in it, a bit of Irish, that made William feel good. So, he finished his second pink drink of the night, and enjoying the balance of fruitful good health and gin, grabbed his notebook and went to the front of the room, where he looked out at the Captains of Industry before him and read one of his new poems. 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

A round of applause rose when he finished and, with a quick bow, he returned to his seat. The poem was titled When You Are Old, and it spoke to his heart. 

All of his poems did, and as a Captain of Poetry, he’d mastered the art of putting the words to paper too. 

William was a captain of a different type of ship. Many of the captains here were. Lawyers. Politicians. Businessman. Writers. The gamut was wide and the captains verified, but the thing they all had in common was being masters of their craft, being arguably the best at what they did. 

That’s how they had gotten in to the club in the first place, the ticket that they punched in the form of exceptionalism, which gave them access to others like them to discuss ideas, socialize and network, while also tipping back a few pink drinks. 

And so the pink drink, which started at this men’s club, in Philadelphia was born and consisted of:

1 ½ oz gin

½ oz dry vermouth

½ oz lemon juice

½ oz raspberry syrup or 3 raspberries plus ½ oz simple syrup, or to taste.

½ oz egg white (about ½ an egg white )

If made correctly, it had a frothy, white top from the egg white, and the entire rest of the drink was pink, from the raspberries.

So, William, also know as W. B. Yeats, arguably the greatest poet of the 20th century, tipped back his pink drink, named after the club, he was visiting right now, and settled his Irish butt back into the leather sofa and waited for the roasting to begin.

It wouldn’t be as bad as he thought, not with a drink like this in his hand, which had the nod to his Irish heritage he liked. 

The Clover Club. 

The clover club…named after the clover club, an exclusive men’s only club started just before 1900 in Philadelphia

That brought together some of the most influential and important minds of the time to socialize… And

Was allegedly the inspiration behind his famous poem A Dialogue of Self and Soul…

Which explored the pleasures of earthly experiences, such things as the Clover Club Pink Drink, 

And the souls yearning for hidden wisdom in the universe….

That could, or could not be my take on it. 

Anyway…I’ll drink to that.