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Good News/ Bad News Clover Club

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Krieger 6/17/08

Clover Club, Julie Reiner's fancy cocktail lounge on Smith Street opened almost two weeks ago, giving the cocktail hounds in Manhattan and Brooklyn alike plenty of time to get drunk on the bar's offerings and breathlessly relay their experiences on the internet. So far the reviews are surprisingly mixed. Some people can't get enough of the debonair decor and the pefectly made, beautifully presented cocktails, while others say the space is contrived, the cocktails, weak and unoriginal. At least no one's shy about sharing their opinions. Let's get to the good news and the bad news on Clover Club.

1) The Good News: Cocktail expert Robert Simonson offers up his thoughts and gives the place a bit of a rave: "The barstaff...was making dozens upon dozens of four select attractions from the cocktail menu, and I tried one of each...All were beautiful. The New York Sours dense and dark. The punch was not exactly deceptively strong, as punches can be—just plain strong. The swizzles were lovingly prepared with twirling palms swirling dancing swizzle-sticks. And the Juleps were ice cold and attractively frosting up their silver mugs." [Off the Presses]

2) The Bad News: Doree Shafrir of the Observer penned a piece yesterday pointing out exactly where Clover Club gets it wrong: "The biggest problem with Clover Club...is that it gets Brooklyn pretension all wrong. Everything looks like it came straight from the Jazz Age section of a Restoration Hardware catalog: tin ceiling, dark wood paneling, etched-glass light fixtures, black-and-white photos of indeterminate provenance of mustachioed men at a bar...and an overly descriptive menu of cocktails like the 'Hemingway Cobbler' and the 'Highland Smash.' In other words, it's all just a wee bit too contrived." [NYO]

3) The Bad News: A reader sends in a note about his negative experience at the bar, begging us to stop the hype: "Somebody put the brakes on the hype about this place!...Design-wise, the room is huge, and yes, it has the de rigeur tin roof, but otherwise it isn't particularly visually arresting...then there are the actual drinks: downsized, oversweetened versions of what's on offer at Flatiron Lounge, in uglier glassware....We tried a wide variety (9 different drinks between 3 of us) and nothing was particularly great. Also, service was lousy - our waiter was extremely slow..." [Inbox]

4) The Good News: In general the cocktail obsessives over on eGullet seem to like the place. They have some lengthy point by point reviews of the entire space and experience, but this sums it up: "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." [eG]

5) The Pretty Good News: Yelp has a pan for the place, an all out rave, and two mostly positive reviews, like this one: "The debonair, 1920s highbrow style of the place wins, big time...The servers were all cute and charming, and had reasonably detailed knowledge of the beverages for a place so new. The libations themselves were tasty, though not quite up to the standard of little branch; they were really similar to what's on offer at Flat Iron Lounge...this is really pretty close to 5 stars - the drinks were just slightly not there for that fifth. I still thoroughly recommend the joint and will be back.

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