One of my first New York apartments was on Smith Street, where I lived from Fall 2005 to Summer 2006, when the area was already gentrified and rents were becoming pretty high. However, there were very few good dining options on Smith at the time. We had one incredible restaurant, Saul, and a few solid standby's, such as Zaytoon's and Cafe LuLuc, which was downstairs from my apartment. Most were bland or forgettable.
Flash forward to Spring 2010, when I moved back to New York after three years away. Smith Street was nothing like I remembered. Smith and Court Streets had become a dining destination of Brooklyn. So many noteworthy restaurants had already opened or would open in the coming months. Char No 4, Clover Club, Buttermilk Channel, Prime Meats, Watty and Meg, Seersucker, the list went on and on.
I didn't know where to tackle first, but ended up at Clover Club one night with a friend from college. (And immediately feel in love with the lovely interior, Prohibition-era reimagined for the modern age.) We miraculously got a walk-in table on a Friday night and ordered lamb burgers. Cooked medium rare, spiked with cumin, and served with a side of chips fried in duck fat. That was the best decision of the night. The second best decision of the night, by a small margin, was ordering the Gin Blossom cocktail. It was one of those perfect gin cocktails with minimal ingredients — just gin, apricot eau de vie, vermouth, and orange bitters. It was crispy, dry, perfect. And as you can see in the photo, behind the cocktail glass is a small pitcher of extra drink on ice. That one cocktail was a solid amount, to be sure.
I've gone back to Clover Club a handful of times since, ordered other great cocktails, and keep going back to this one. It's as wonderful by itself as it is with the cumin lamb burger, the dryness of the alcohol cutting the fattiness of the lamb and duck fat chips. I need to head back to Smith St. soon.