Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common

Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common
November 2011

Before managing the bar at Portland’s beloved Clyde Common, Jeffrey Morgenthaler tended bar at neighborhood taverns, college nightclubs, fine dining restaurants, and upscale lounges, including Marché and Red Agave in Eugene, Oregon. Those experiences inspired Morganthaler to build a digital front, www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com, from which he could wax eloquent on bartending and mixology, featuring cocktail recipes, product reviews, and bartending techniques. It was on this website that Morgenthaler first posted his work in barrel-aged cocktails, a technique he helped revive, making him a mixology leader not only in Portland, but across the country.

And that’s fitting. Morgenthaler might be a Portland champion, but his reach extends well beyond P-Town. Apart from pleasing patrons at Clyde Common, not to mention contributing to a creative beverage pairing menu with Chef Chris DiMinno, Morgenthaler finds ways to share his mixo-savvy with the entire nation. Other than StarChefs.com, Morgenthaler’s recipes have appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, Wired, and Imbibe magazines. Forbes Traveler called Morgenthaler one of the "Cocktail Movers and Shakers" of 2007, and Tasting Panel Magazine named him a "New Leader" in 2009. And his 2011 StarChefs.com Portland Rising Star Mixologist win is likely the cherry on top (or in his case, the cherry in his Manhattan): industry acknowledgment that whether he’s tending bar at a nightclub, a frat bar, or Clyde Common, Morgenthaler is a leader in mixology.

Interview with Portland Rising Star Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common - Portland, OR

Francoise Villeneuve: What drew you to restaurants and, in particular, to mixology?
Jeffrey Morgenthaler: I was lucky enough to kind of get in on the ground floor. I had been bartending in the 90s in beer bars. It was in the late 90s that the Internet started humming with whispers of classic cocktails.

FV: Were you trained in bartending or mixology?
JM: It was about collecting whatever books that I could and reading whatever I could on the Internet. There weren't enough people doing this so I kind of had to learn from the old masters.

FV: What goes into creating a new cocktail?
JM: I usually take inspiration from classic cocktails and then try to adjust flavors from there. Sometimes I'll have an idea from home. It takes me a long time to come up with new ideas because I’m such a perfectionist.

FV: What organizations do you belong to?
JM: I’m a founding member of the Oregonian Bartenders Guild. We formed the guild because there were six of us that were really interested in cocktails and bartending and wanted to share information with each other and the very small bartending community in Oregon—one thing that's changed

FV: If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?
JM: I went to school for interior architecture at the University of Oregon, Eugene. I got my first bartending job in college to pay my bills—had no intention of staying. I went back to school at end of summer, but I enjoyed bartending so much and was naturally good at it.

FV: What’s next? Where do you see yourself in five years?
JM: I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going to see myself at the end of this year. What I was doing five years ago is so different from what I'm doing today. Whatever I'm doing, I want to be doing more. I want to be learning more, educating more.

FV: You put an emphasis on service at Clyde Common. Do you find that’s a constant in the bartending field?
JM: Service is underrated in hospitality. I think that right now the current obsession is so detail-oriented—the minutia of it and obscure spirits and recipes. And a lot of new bartenders haven't been able to embrace the beauty and necessity of hospitality.