Dear Drinkers, Longtime and famed bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler has some advice for you about drinking. Also, Morgenthaler has absolutely no advice for you.
Just as the cocktail renaissance has brought renewed fame to classics like the martini, the manhattan and the Negroni, it has heaped fresh infamy on a rogues’ gallery of less classy concoctions, most of which emerged during the final decades of the last century.
Getting a great cocktail at a great bar is a wonderful experience. But getting a cocktail of noted repute, at the bar where it originated or from the bartender who created it, contributes a certain extra level of special. There aren’t that many places where you can pull off this trick, but the modern cocktail revival has added to the number of such destination bars. For the intrepid boozehound with some frequent flier miles to burn, here’s a list of a few to hit.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a gentleman and a scholar.
At least that’s the opinion of his drinks-industry peers, who named the Clyde Common bar manager both America’s Bartender of the Year and the country’s Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer at the 2016 Spirited Awards.
Morgenthaler, a household name among Portland’s cocktail set, can claim some responsibility for several American drinks trends, particularly the barrel-aging of cocktails. Several of his drinks are among Portland’s best-known cocktails, including the Barrel-Aged Negroni and Bourbon Renewal at downtown Portland’s Clyde Common and the Grasshopper at his subterranean Pepe Le Moko.
Bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s favorite spot to stand while building cocktails at Clyde Common in Portland’s Ace Hotel is in front of the tavern’s large window. One wonders if—as he looks out onto Stark Street contemplatively stirring a cocktail—he’s dreaming up the next big thing.
Clyde Common is tucked into the Ace Hotel, home to flannel and beard sporting locavores who look like they’ve just come back from cutting their own Christmas tree year-round. Head barman and avid cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler soothes the Portlandia set with his eminently balanced, seasonally inspired concoctions; his surprise ace in the hole is a 1970s throwback: The Amaretto Sour.
Scottish Breakfast: The saltiness of the Scotch cuts perfectly through the perfume-y, dessert-sweet Sherry. A cask-strength Speyside Scotch like Glenfarclas 105 works best… From Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common, Portland, Ore.
“Fruit preserves have always been a reminder during colder months of the previous summer’s bounty, and there’s no quicker or lovelier path to those memories than with a cocktail. I combine tequila and black currant jam, mix rum and fig jelly, and, best of all, shake orange marmalade into my whiskey sour where it adds texture, sweetness, and an extraordinary touch of citrus-peel bitterness.” –
Award-winning mixologist and bar manager at Portland, Oregon’s Clyde Common, Jeffrey Morgenthaler likes to get more conceptual with his sherry cocktails. For the Andalusian Buck, he was “riffing on what I thought would be a very popular drink in Spain,” says Morgenthaler. “Most people don’t know this but Spain is one of the biggest gin-drinking countries in the world. And we have this really beautiful ginger beer that we brew in-house. It’s a really dry ginger beer, and it just sets up so beautifully with the nutty sherry and the strength of the botanicals of the gin.”
And in the Land of the Microbrew, are customers receptive to that whimsy? “We have a pretty sophisticated clientele here in Portland,” Morgenthaler replies. “It doesn’t freak people out.”
We’ve heard about the history of eggnog, but what’s the best recipe for making your own as well as all the equally tasty variations?
In one corner: my favorite recipe for eggnog. Cocktail blogger and ace bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe is simple, fairly light in texture and has an intense, eggy flavor tempered with brandy and spiced rum. You make it in the blender, and it’s a snap to put together. Just don’t use a commercial blender, as it can heat the contents. Sweet scrambled eggs don’t make a tasty holiday treat.
In the other corner: my mother. Her favorite recipe is from Mary Meade’s Kitchen Companion by Ruth Ellen Church, published by the Chicago Tribune in 1955. (My mother used to work for the Trib’s food section, and many of our favorite family dishes come from the recipe files there.) This is heavier and rich, and the orange liqueur really brings out a nice spin on the traditional eggnog taste. You also want to plan ahead with this one, as it’s best when made 24 hours in advance.
Clyde Common is a bustling and fun bar with great drinks. No surprise, since it was put together by one of the best bartenders in the business, Jeffrey Morgenthaler. It’s a pleasure to watch him at work — he’s efficient, entertaining and mixes a phenomenal cocktail.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler oversees the rotating cocktail list at this airy “tavern” adjacent to the Ace Hotel. One to try: the Cranky Lass with Scotch, amaro, apple cider, lemon, allspice liqueur.
Tonic water has more than just cinchona bark in it: there’s also a dense citric acid base and a certain amount of sweetness countering the quinine’s intense bitterness, as well as various aromatic botanicals, not unlike those found in gin itself. The peripatetic Jeffrey Morganthaler of Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., has had a much referenced recipe on his Web site for years now, and Jim Meehan just published his in his brand-new “PDT Cocktail Book,” out this month.
But we couldn’t write a story about pomegranates and not bring up grenadine. While much of what you get now is full of corn syrup and food coloring, the cordial was originally made with pomegranate juice. We got star Portland, Ore., bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler to share with us his tasty and simple version. Try it in the tropical Batida Rosa, which he serves at his establishment, Clyde Common, or enjoy it with a bit of your favorite alcohol. You just may be inspired to create your own myth…
The barrel is a beautiful thing. It’s an object that’s etched into our boozy subconscious—an old-timey icon for fine drink that’s almost primal. It’s pre–frothy beer mug, pre–martini glass, pre–mustachioed bartender. Yet you rarely encounter one outside of a distillery tour. That is, until the craft-cocktail set started to re-purpose the barrels for aging their own drinks. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, head bartender at Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., was one of the first to do it, inspiring bartenders around the globe to experiment. And Tuthilltown Distilleries in Gardiner, N.Y., has kept the trend alive—it started off aging its whiskey in custom-made 2½-gallon vessels years ago because of the ability of those unusually small barrels to age spirits more quickly. Although larger ones are more cost effective, the distillers continue to use smaller barrels, partly because of the unique flavor they produce, but also because of the demand from drink geeks.