When the so-called mixology movement began to percolate in a public way several years back, much of it involved bringing back Prohibition-era cocktails. But this reexamination eventually led to a great deal of innovation, some good, some bad, by ambitious bartenders who believed it was time to move the craft of cocktail-making into the 21st century. One of these successful, forward-thinking bar masters is Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who applies his trade at Clyde Common, a modern tavern/gastropub concept in Portland, OR.
Morgenthaler’s inspiration for aging cocktails took hold after visiting famed London mixologist Tony Conigliaro, who was maturing Manhattans ever so slowly in glass vessels. But being an American, where patience is not a virtue always revered, Morgenthaler began to experiment with used oak barrels. After five to six weeks, his Manhattans developed a sophisticated patina that comes from a blend of caramel, oak, wine and char. Since then, he’s found that the aging process works well with a variety of cocktails, including the ever-favorite Negroni.
Now one can travel to China, New Zealand and thousands of points around the world where barrel-aged cocktails stylishly announce, “Welcome to the 21st century.” And for that, you can thank master mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler.