Sunday, April 22, 2007

Flattery Gets You Everywhere...

(Most Especially Onto My Blog!)

Basically, anywhere I am in the world, I am thinking about The Liquid Muse - searching for fun things to write about, asking bartenders for their best cocktails, etc. While traveling in Bangkok, I noticed a spike in traffic, one day, from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Of course, I pushed back my sightseeing plans to sit on my compter a while longer and follow the links to see who he was and why I was getting visitors from his cocktail site.

Well, being a full-blown muse (and girl) I was enthralled to read that while referencing some cocktail blogs, he referred to The Liquid Muse as the "Cocktail Goddess to the Rich and Famous." Oh. yeah. baby.

Engaging in mutual admiration society, for a second, I do have to encourage you Sipsters to check out his blog. He rocks. You'll love him. I would know. (Goddesses are privy to that kind of thing...) Below is our interview. He is adorable and knowledgable. You'll see what I mean. Read on!

TLM: How old are you?
JM: Aren't the first few questions supposed to be nice and easy? I'm 35.

TLM: Were you born and raised in Eugene?
JM: I was born in Sacramento, California but I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula. I didn't move to Eugene until I went away for college.

TLM: What did you study in college?
JM: I received my Associate's degree in Physics, and then went on to earn my Bachelor's degree in Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon.

TLM: How long have you been bartending?
JM: I've been behind the bar for eleven years now. It was originally intended as a summer job but ended up being a career.

TLM: How do you define “Mixologist”?
JM: I define 'mixologist' much like I define the words 'biologist' or 'psychologist': it's a person who studies a particular field. The key word for me here is 'study', because I feel that learning everything I can about mixology is integral to what I do behind my bar.

TLM: What do you like most about being a Mixologist?
JM: Amazingly enough, I really enjoy making drinks. We nurture a cocktail culture at our bar, and our customers seek us out as a fine drinking destination. When someone comes in and expresses some enthusiasm for cocktails, it sparks my energy level and reminds me why I do this.

TLM: What is the name of your bar?
JM: El Vaquero. It's the Spanish word for cowboy. I'm the bar manager, so I get to write the schedule, place the orders, clean the floor underneath the ice wells, train the staff and prep some of the more laborious items we carry. Every once in a while I'll even get to create a new drink for the menu.

TLM: What are your inspirations when creating a cocktail?
JM: I start by looking at the classics. I have a huge library of drink books, everything from The Gentleman's Companion up to Gary and Mardee Regan's books. Sometimes I'll delve into a drink family that I've never explored before - lately it's been crustas - and then start going through the kitchen looking for flavors that I can use to add my own touch to the drink.

TLM: What is your favorite cocktail?
JM: I was with a group of bartenders this weekend, and someone asked us each to name our top five drinks. My number one alcoholic beverage would have to be Champagne, but my favorite cocktail is probably the Sidecar. People refer to it as the Mother of Modern Cocktails and I think that's a very fitting moniker.

TLM: How long have you been blogging?
JM: I've had a website since 1996, but the blog is a pretty recent addition - about three or four years ago. Originally my website was just a resume and architecture portfolio.

TLM: What made you start a blog?
JM: I just wanted to be able to post photographs and notes for the handful of people who knew about my website, mostly just my friends and family. Soon I noticed a lot of traffic from people looking for my drink recipes, so I started writing about bartending and posting my drink recipes online.

TLM: What do you like about doing a blog?
JM: The biggest thing for me has been the ability to connect with other like-minded people around the world. I get a new email every day from someone who want to share their ideas with me, and that alone helps keep me inspired. I try to put up a couple of new posts a week, on my days off.

TLM: What is the primary focus / goal of your blog?
JM: I try to mix it up. I'll post drink recipes and product reviews when I'm in the mood, but sometimes I just like to rant about this or that. I love it when I can get my readers involved and a discussion breaks out on one of my topics. My goal is to connect with people who are passionate about the same values I carry: dedication to the craft of mixology, exploration of new flavors and ingredients, and anything else bar-related.

TLM: What is your favorite cocktail to make?
JM: Really, anything that's out of the ordinary gets me excited. I had someone come in looking for an Aviation cocktails a few weeks ago, and fortunately I had just found a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur so we were able to play around with some recipes.

TLM: Can you share a bar tale?
JM: While I was working at a neighborhood dive, one day there was a stabbing in the park next door. A group of people had been attacked, and they all came pouring in to get bandages, use the phone to call the police, and collect their nerves. Although it was a tragic scene, it was amazing to see the whole bar come together to help. That exemplifies what I feel bars should be: community gathering places, for better or for worse.

TLM: What is the best pick-up line you’ve heard in a bar? The worst?
JM: Honestly, I try not to listen. The pickup lines all start to run together after so many years.

TLM: What piece of advice would you give to a bar customer?
JM: Patience is a virtue you will be rewarded for in the end.

TLM: What / where do you drink on a night of?
JM: I don't really drink all that much, but when I do, I just stop in at the little pub by my house. It's usually pretty quiet by the time I get off work, the staff is friendly, the bourbon is strong and the beer is cold. Does that answer your question?

TLM: What do you do besides write and make cocktails? What are you hobbies, interests?
JM: I love to cook, so almost every night that I'm not working I can be found in my kitchen, listening to music and making dinner for my girlfriend and our friends. I also try to avoid the bartender's curse of sleeping all day, so I try to get up early and go for walks or work out in the pool.

TLM: Describe your fantasy life…
JM: I'm the Professor from Gilligan's Island... Oh wait, what?

TLM: What did I not ask that you would like to share?
JM: Whew, I don't know, it took me a day to do this much, Natalie!


Shawn said...

Great interview. Thanks for letting us in on your career and where you find inspiration.

Has the MM blog format updated recently? It's a nice design.

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie! I really enjoyed this interview. It opened my eyes to the science and passion of mixology! Well done!