Lunch can still be splashy. Jordan Kaye, co-author of How to Booze, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler, noted spirits blogger and mixologist at Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., advise on how to get tanked without tipping off your co-workers.
In today’s hyperactive cocktail climate, new ideas travel faster than a bottle of Fernet Branca in a room full of mixologists. Case in point: barrel-aged cocktails.
The seed was planted when Portland, Oregon-based bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler tasted a Manhattan that had been aged five years in a glass vessel by noted London bartender Tony Conigliaro. Back at home in his bar, Clyde Common, he began aging cocktails in barrels instead of bottles to cut down the wait time.
An avid blogger, Morgenthaler quickly posted the results–smooth and nuanced drinks that brought new life to old formulas–and it didn’t take long for others to catch on.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who runs the bar at Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel in Portland, Ore., and also writes an engaging cocktail blog, was in London for Rumfest last October and found himself sitting at 69 Colebrook Row, appreciatively sipping one of Conigliaro’s vintage manhattans. “Being American, I thought to myself, ‘How can we age this more, and faster, make it taste really different?’
Instead of just buying aged spirits, Jeffrey Morgenthaler ages his own cocktails in oak barrels. Negronis (a mix of gin, vermouth and Campari) acquire a sweet, oaky finish after six weeks in Tuthilltown whiskey casks.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., says: “There are two basic principles to muddling. The most common technique is to get in there and really bash things apart — using a little force breaks up the fruit entirely and gets the most flavor. The other technique is reserved for citrus segments and peels, and requires a more gentle touch — muddle just enough to release the essential oils that will flavor the drink, but not so much as to pulverize the rind. Citrus peel, when abused, can bring unwanted bitterness.”
When Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common got fed up with commercial tonic water, he made his own. “I don’t like the sweetness,” he says. “There’s a lack of depth in the flavor profile.” For his housemade version, he boiled cinchona bark with citrus peel, citric acid and lemongrass to extract the quinine, then filtered it and cut it with agave syrup. “The final product, to me, is that flavor, not the thrill of [making] it,” he says. Morgenthaler lists this recipe on his blog, along with how to make ginger beer and how not to make a mint julep. “I’m constantly [traveling] and talking to people, I go to bars, sit back and watch,” he says. During a recent visit to Hamburg, Germany’s Le Lion had Morgenthaler in awe of freezer-stored glassware, a practice he’s still trying to implement at Clyde Common. He came to the Portland bar in early 2009 armed with a preference for gin (“Vodka is too much of a blank slate while gin provides a neutral spirit with a mild starting point”), a stash of orange bitters aging in a Madeira wine cask and his charm. “What I fell in love with was bartending, not just the search for flavors, but the hospitality, that social aspect. I want to continue moving forward and keep learning.”
“Not many people can attest to creating a classic cocktail that epidemically spread across the USA and then the world, but Jeffrey Morgenthaler has done just that. His Richmond Gimlet has become a modern day classic on which he can put his claim to fame. When googled, the Richmond Gimlet comes up with over a thousand links, true testament to a drink that was created purely by chance. Jeffrey Morgenthaler is an Oregon based bartender with a penchant for blogging, organizing events and overseeing the Oregon Bartenders Guild. All of this from a guy whose passion grew after jumping behind the bar one summer while studying for his degree in Architecture.”
“Eggnog, that other holiday favorite, has a separate lineage as well: technically it is a “flip,” as Jeffrey Morgenthaler notes on his cocktail blog, at www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com. He devised a streamlined version for Bel Ami, a restaurant in Eugene, Ore., and serves it from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. “I really wanted to have eggnog in a bar,” he said. “It’s not something you ever see. People go crazy for it.”
“A serious student of classic drinks, Mr. Morgenthaler happily bucks tradition with his nog, whipping up small batches in that clever anachronism, the blender. He’s convinced that his recipe — which is creamy but not gelatinous, and doesn’t require separating the eggs — improves on the original. There are times, he said, when “it’s O.K. to go against history.””
“Bartender and blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler has been pushing the idea of a true drinking holiday for 10 years now, and he says this year it took off exponentially. But Morgenthaler says you really need to do it right by drinking American craft beers and cask-aged spirits.
‘Seek out your local microbrewed beer. Seek out your small American distilleries. Seek out your local wineries,” he says. “It’s important that we celebrate the day because it marks the return of those American traditions that were almost lost during Prohibition.’”
“At the Bel Ami Lounge in Eugene, Ore., Jeffrey Morgenthaler serves a gin and tonic made with his own recipe for agave-sweetened quinine syrup. Daniel Shoemaker at the Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Ore., crafts his own vermouth, falernum, blueberry shrub (a kind of cordial) and 15 bitters.”
“The demise of Prohibition, 75 years ago this coming Friday, is something of a cause for celebration, and it will be treated as such with Repeal Day parties in Washington, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, New York and elsewhere. The trend got started a couple of years ago, when Oregon bartender and blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler promoted the anniversary as an informal holiday suitable for quaffing. You could say the goal of the cocktail crowd has been to make Repeal Day a sort of Cinco de Drinko.”
“It seems appropriate that it’s this year that Jeffrey Morgenthaler tops the list as your favorite drink-mixer in town. In the last year, Morgenthaler’s had drink recipes appear in Playboy (the Bourbon Renewal) and Food and Wine Cocktails 2008 (the Batida Rosa, an “interpretation of a classic style of Brazilian beach cocktail”); his writing has spread beyond his popular blog to Germany’s Mixology magazine, where he’s now a regular contributor; and recently he gave a presentation on using the web to connect to the global bar community at the Berlin Bar Conference (the Germans, it appears, like him as much as we do). Voters love his Richmond gimlet, which won Best House Drink; unprompted, one of our writers penned an ode to his gin and tonics; personally, we like picking something new from the ever-changing cocktail list for the first drink — the Autumn Leaves is a current favorite — and asking Morgenthaler what else he’s got up his sleeve for the second. And third.”
“Let it never be said that drinking can’t be a transcendental experience. About half the time I serve someone their ﬁrst Richmond Gimlet, their response is, “That’s just a little slice of heaven, isn’t it!” The other half sit mutely in admiration of the drink, their faces lit by the greenish hue of an up-tipped cocktail glass. Until they come up for air and ask for another, that is. Created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, an architect cum bartender who blogs about cocktails at www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com, the Richmond Gimlet is quickly becoming a modern classic, and for good reason.”
“It all started with one drink. Or rather, it started with the idea of a drink, with the recipe Bel Ami bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler posted to his blog one afternoon. Morgenthaler was fudging a little with a ‘Mixology Monday’ topic: fruit liqueurs. Rather than using a fruit liqueur exactly, he’d created a drink that used Bombay gin, lemon, St. Germain elderﬂ ower liqueur and a syrup made from Sweet Cheeks 2006 Estate Pinot Gris.
East of Eden wasn’t just a delicious drink with perfectly layered ﬂavors, though. It was an introduction, albeit a rather roundabout one, to an oft-neglected sub-category of cocktails (using the general deﬁnition rather than the one that speciﬁes certain ingredients): those made with wine.”
“Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a man on a mission, and he’s carrying on his crusade these days from behind the well-stocked bar at Bel Ami Restaurant and Lounge at Midtown Marketplace, on Willamette Street in just-south-of-downtown Eugene.
The mission — and not only has he already accepted it, he helped start it — is “to put Oregon on the map by being on the forefront of ‘craft’ bartending,” which means “putting out world-class cocktails” and getting bartenders all over the state to sign on to do the same thing.”