Julie Reiner is a cocktail rock star. The Park Slope resident owns a set of swanky Manhattan lounges and is known worldwide for her spirit smarts and magical mixing. So, when it came time to launch her next project, Reiner looked no further than her own backyard for a place to serve her high-class cocktails.
On Wednesday, The Clover Club — Reiner’s newest bar — opened its doors and its bottles at 210 Smith St. in Carroll Gardens, confirming the strip’s status as not just a dining destination, but a drinking one as well.
“The idea for me of running a place full of real New Yorkers was very pleasant,” Reiner told GO Brooklyn just days before the bar opened. “Flatiron [Lounge] has been open for five years and the crowd in Manhattan has changed. I loved the idea of opening a place for the people and less of a tourist crowd.”
Despite the recent opening of upscale bars like Williamsburg’s Hotel Delmano, Prospect Heights’ WeatherUp and The JakeWalk, just down the street, Reiner said, “There’s a lack of classy, swanky cocktail lounges [in the neighborhood]. There are a couple small places that you can go to for a decent cocktail but nothing on the scale of my other places in the city. It was something that I was looking for and wasn’t really finding so much, so I thought. ‘Why not open one myself?’”
Now that the doors are open, locals are in for quite a treat. The bar will focus on “classic cocktails” — ranging from $10 to $12 — with fresh-squeezed juices and seasonal ingredients, and Reiner will also be serving punch — out of antique punch bowls, of course — for groups of four or six.
“It’s my answer to bottle service,” she said, “which I think is ridiculous.”
The bar’s signature drink, and Reiner’s favorite, is the “Clover Club Cocktail,” made of gin, dry vermouth, raspberry spirits, lemon juice and egg whites.
“It’s a drink that I’ve always loved,” she said. “I thought that would be a really great name for a bar.”
The drink itself was named for a social club that met in the late 1800s at a Philadelphia hotel.
“It was a place where a lot of political types would gather, and they would all give speeches and razz each other,” explained Reiner. “It was a club that you were a member of,” and a great inspiration for her own neighborhood bar.
While cocktails are the focus here, the Clover Club won’t be without food. Noted chef Gavin Citron (formerly of JoJo and Maroon’s Smoke House in Manhattan) consulted on a menu that’s to include small plates of fried oysters, steak tartare, caviar-shrimp toast, miniature lamb burgers and steak sandwiches with horseradish sauce.
Additionally, the front windows of the bar will open onto Smith Street — outdoor tables are also in the works — so a drink and snack can be made into a meal with a hefty side of people watching.
For all of the haughty hooch and epicurean ingredients, though, Reiner hopes that her bar will be a neighborhood joint and destination for folks weary of having to take the subway for an upscale drinking experience.
“People call me a ‘mixologist,’ but I just like to stick with ‘bartender,’ ” said Reiner. “At my other bars, we’re very well known for the cocktails we do. It’s definitely serious mixology, but my goal is to have a bar that’s really fun as well. In our [professional] community, it’s gotten overly serious to where it’s not fun, so we’re trying to bring it down a notch and still put out a high quality product.”
It’s exactly what she’s been doing for years, but the idea of being able to deal with her neighbors, and not the velvet rope and limo crowd, is truly the most refreshing ingredient for Reiner.
“There are a lot of people in Brooklyn who want really great cocktails and a place they can hang out in that’s doing drinks to a very high standard,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot out here, so there are a lot of people who are very excited to have it and to not have to go into Manhattan on a Friday or Saturday night. I know that’s what I’m always looking for.”
The Clover Club (210 Smith St. at Baltic Street in Boerum Hill) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. The bar is open Monday through Thursday, from 5 pm to 2 am, Fridays, from 5 pm to 4 am, Saturdays, from noon to 4 am and Sundays, from noon to midnight. For information, call (718) 855-7939.