Ambrose Burnside Lincoln Hoffman, was born in Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 31 August 1865, the son of William Hoffman and Amanda C. [Fritz] Hoffman. and was a direct descendant of Johann Peter Hoffman (1709-1797), pioneer settler of the Lykens Valley. As a youth, he was known by the nickname “Burney.” After the death of his father, he moved to Philadelphia with his widowed mother. At age 14, he was working at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel as a bartender. Family lore is that he won a contest to invent a new alcoholic drink, which was called the “pink lady cocktail.” However, subsequent research has shown that the drink created by the young Burney was actually the Clover Club Cocktail.
According to Friday Night Drinking Club:
The Clover Club [cocktail] has its roots in a Philadelphia area men’s club of the same name, started in the late 1800s. The group consisted of captains of industry such as bankers and lawyers, and their chief meeting spot was the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. The drink itself is said to have been invented by teenaged bartender Ambrose Burnside Lincoln Hoffman at the Bellevue-Stratford in 1880. According to the Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, the Clover Club became a staple of East Coast bars and hotels, ordered by the jet-setters of the day, “distinguished of the oak-paneled lounge”
The Cocktail Chronicles also weighed in on the history of the drink by reporting what Jack Townsend said about it in his Bartender’s Book:
The Clover Club drinker is traditionally a gentleman of the pre-Prohibition school. He may not necessarily be one of the legal, literary, or business figures who were members of the club of that name. He may never have been in the bar of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia where the Clover Club members foregathered and the drink originated. But he belongs with that set. And switch from a Clover Club to a Pink Lady? Never! For one thing, someone might classify him along with that Pink Lady drinker down the bar.
In response to the above posting, Pamela Collier, a relative of Ambrose, relayed the following:
In 1880, Ambrose Burnside Lincoln Hoffman was a 14-year-old bartender at Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Bartending was a noble profession and Ambrose had a gift for it. Family lore is that he won a contest at the Bellevue-Stratford by inventing the “Pink Lady.” I think we’ve figured out that he invented the Clover Club Cocktail, but our family historian (his granddaughter) remembers it as a Pink Lady–perish the thought. While the Clover Club cocktail might be “out of fashion” for the mainstream, I’m serving them at our next family reunion in honor of Ambrose.
In a December 2011 e-mail from Pamela Collier, she gave the following the additional information about Ambrose Burnside Lincoln Hoffman:
In 1895, Ambrose married Mary Conover, who was born 3 August 1875, in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, the daughter of George A. Conover. He and Mary settled in Philadelphia.
Ambrose then developed palsy. As his disease progressed, he was no longer able to work as a bartender. To support his family, he took a job as a ticket taker at a local movie theater, but soon had to leave that job as well. His wife Mary became the family wage earner, working for the next 20years as a saleswoman at Gimbel’s Department Store.
1n 1930, Ambrose’s sister Priscilla Hoffman lived with the family and helped care for Ambrose. As the Great Depression deepened, Ambrose and Mary moved in with their son and daughter-in-law, Ambrose Hoffman Jr. and Edna [Stokes] Hoffman.
Other details are found in an account written by one of Ambrose’s granddaughters, Edna Bernice [Hoffman] VanLeuven:
“I remember grandpop sitting in a chair in the corner of the dining room, beside a bright window, where he could read the paper, now and then cussing when his hands wouldn’t hold the paper still enough for him to read. He was sometimes smoking a cigar, his one vice. His newspaper and cigar were the two pleasures that he had. Grandpop was gentle and kind, and would try to help clean up the dishes after meals, and it was he who first mad French toast for me. I remember well, the smile on his face when I said how much I liked it.
“Years later he became very ill, spending every moment of his life bedridden in an upstairs room. Grandmom still had to work, and my father did what he could for grandpop during the day until grandmom got home from work. Not once, through all of that time while grandpop was suffering from his illness – he had cancer – did my sister or I set foot in that ‘sick room.’ Then one warm summer evening, grandmom came home from work, walked into that ‘sick room,’ and screamed. Ambrose Burnside Lincoln Hoffman had died. And he died alone.”
Corrections and additional information should be added as comments to this post.
The picture of Clover Club Cocktail is from TheKitchn.com. where a recipe can also be found for the drink.