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

November 2011

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.