Macy recalls first hearing the insider shorthand during a brief stint working at Reiner’s tropical bar, Lani Kai, before it closed in 2012, though it was actually coined in the early days of Reiner’s first bar, Flatiron Lounge. Back then the menu featured a Singapore Sling—a cocktail jammed with as many as eight ingredients, many of them called for in minuscule amounts, often not more than a teaspoon.
“Our volume was so high that we needed to be able to get the drink out without having an eight-bottle pickup,” recalls Reiner. To speed up the preparation, Reiner began to batch the small-quantity ingredients, like Cointreau and grenadine, into a single bottle. When making the drink during a happy hour onslaught, a bartender might yell to a colleague to pass them the “Singapore Sling business.” Eventually, that single bottle got shortened to simply being “the biz.” A new slang term had been coined.
Yet in an age when the cocktail industry is so meticulously catalogued, when even bartenders at the Chili’s in the mall know what fat-washing is, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single mention of “the biz” on the internet. (You won’t find the term anywhere on Clover Club’s menu either—you’ll have to look to some Sharpie-scrawled labels behind the bar.)
In the earliest days of the bar, which opened in 2008, bartenders began casually using “biz” to refer to any kind of batching. As was indicative of that classic cocktail-heavy era, they only ever had a need for one or two at a time. Now that Clover Club has become a higher-volume destination, however, an influx of bizzes has followed.
“Our cocktail menu over the last two to three years has gotten a lot bigger, so we’ve really had to streamline for scale,” explains Macy. Making a biz before service starts is a lot easier and more accurate than tossing teaspoons of several minor modifiers into every single drink. These days, anything that can be made into a biz is; some aren’t even all that complex, just two or three non-spirituous ingredients—like matcha vanilla syrup, Coco Lopez and coconut milk used in a Piña Colada. (Any blend of two or more spirits is officially called a “batch” rather than a “biz.”)
Bizzes are made at least once a week and, since some use non-shelf-stable ingredients, are not produced in great volumes. Those that are rarely used are stored in the fridge, but most go in the juice well, while the real workhorses sit up on the bar. Aside from Macy and fellow bartender Jelani Johnson occasionally trying to come up with punny names for new ones—“Whiskey Biz-ness,” “Taking Care of Biz-ness,” etc.—their labels are typically quotidian, named after the key drink they go in. But bizzes aren’t really about clever names or dazzling guests, they’re simply about getting the job done quickly and efficiently. And that’s why you’ve never heard about them until now. For good reason, adds Macy: “It’s definitely not the sexiest term.”
Here, five Clover Club “bizzes” and how to use them.
This supercharging of five different cherry flavors is added to Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the house sweet vermouth to create the bar’s $21 Reserve Manhattan.
This biz is used to add some sweetness and body to the Tiger Lily, a mezcal and coriander-infused blanco tequila cobbler.
Used in the rum-heavy tiki drink Crooked Mast, this biz uniquely features two different orgeats produced by Brooklyn-based commercial orgeat maker “Tiki Adam.”
This green tea-based biz is used for the offbeat Matcha Colada, which has the unexpected inclusion of green Chartreuse in it.
Created by Shannon Ponche when she worked at Clover Club, the milk biz is meant for use in the Thai One On cocktail but has become an employee favorite for all sorts of drinks.