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Happy National Cocktail Day: 6 Questions with Master Mixologist, Clare Gordon

We spoke to Redemption Whiskey's Northeast Regional Spirits Ambassador, Clare Gordon, on National Cocktail Day

Happy National Cocktail Day! 

From the classics such as the Old Fashioned to modern concoctions such as the Pornstar Martini, everybody loves a cocktail. The sheer quantity of recipes that have been developed using various ingredients means that cocktails can be created to suit any taste. 

Even when focusing purely on cocktails created with whiskey and bourbon, there is still much diversity to be found. 

This is evident in the recipes that Redemption Whiskey has concocted for National Cocktail Day (March 24th). These include the ‘Redemption Garden of Eden’, the ‘Redemption Old Fashioned’, and the ‘Redemption Ryem Thyme’. All of these stunning cocktails make fine use of rye and bourbon from Redemption Whiskey. The recipes can be found at the bottom of this article. 

To gain some insight into the art of mixology, I chatted with Clare Gordon, Northeast Regional Spirits Ambassador for Redemption Whiskey and master mixologist. Clare talks about mixology trends, how to pursue a career in mixology, and of course, her favorite Redemption whiskey. 

6 Questions with Clare Gordon, Northeast Regional Spirits Ambassador for Redemption Whiskey for National Cocktail Day 

Is there a particular cocktail that has piqued your interest in mixology? If so, which is it and why?  

The Sazerac is hands-down my favorite whiskey cocktail – and Redemption Rye truly makes the best one! It’s actually my “bartender barometer,” as in it’s the cocktail by which I feel like I can judge a bartender’s skill level and technique. 

There are so many little details and components that have to be done perfectly, and there is no room for error. The glass must be as cold as possible, there must be the perfect ratio of bitters to absinthe to sugar to whiskey, and you must express then discard the lemon twist garnish. When made perfectly, it’s an exquisite cocktail to drink! 

Redemption is such a great rye for this cocktail (whether you split it with cognac or not) because while it’s a high rye-content whiskey, it’s not overpoweringly spicy and makes the drink really sing. If you use a rye with too much corn in the mashbill, the drink comes out too hot and sweet. 

In your experience, how does your choice of whiskey affect the final cocktail? 

I think the easiest way to describe Bourbon vs. Rye in a way that immediately clicks with people is to compare them to bread. Bourbon is like cornbread and has that sweet, nutty quality, while Rye is like Rye bread and boasts spicier, earthier flavors. 

When you’re deciding which one to add to a cocktail, it’s easy to visualize how your choice in whiskey will impact your cocktail when you think of it like food. I’m perhaps biased here, as I used to be a baker in a past career, but it really does help. And when you think of flavor combinations in a cocktail, this is a great guide. 

In terms of picking a bottle of either, it’s always best to select a higher proof whiskey for mixing (Redemption has a range from 88 to 92 proof in our baseline) so that you still end up with enough depth of flavor after diluting your cocktail. It’s also important to look for the term “straight” on the label, which when applied to Rye or Bourbon (like all of our whiskeys at Redemption) means that the spirit has been aged for at least two years and contains no artificial additives. 

Your cocktail quality is only as good as your worst ingredient, so make sure you’re treating yourself to the best! 

Between the ‘Redemption Garden of Eden’, the ‘Redemption Old Fashioned’, and the ‘Redemption Ryem Thyme’ which is your favorite and why?

I like the Ryem Thyme because it is a bit more unique within the whiskey category! It’s hard to find recipes for brown spirits that so perfectly balance bitter, sweet, and sour – and ones that are both refreshing enough for the warmer months and perfect for winter months, as it echoes the citrus notes of Redemption Rye so perfectly. It doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty, either!  

The Redemption Ryem Thyme is Clare Gordon’s cocktail of choice for National Cocktail Day. Credit: Redemption Whiskey

What is a past cocktail trend that you would like to see become popular again and why?  

I’d like to see Punch Bowls make a comeback! One of my favorite places in Portland, OR used to have a daily punch, which was such a fun, old-fashioned thing to do. It was different every day so it really gave the bartenders a chance to play around with new flavor combinations, and it gave guests a reason to drop in to try out the punch of the moment. I feel like it has this nostalgic and personal quality that was a delightfully hospitable touch to an otherwise fancy bar. 

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing mixology?  

Start with the classics! Building a foundation with classic cocktail techniques and working up to more creative and innovative styles is definitely the way to go. Any good craftsman will tell you that it takes time to learn your tools – so it’s important to learn how to perfectly balance a cocktail, proper chilling techniques, what kinds of garnish will enhance a cocktail when used appropriately – the list goes on. Once you have those basics really down to second nature, it’s easier to be creative and start experimenting with new ingredients, flavors, and formats! 

What is your desert island Redemption Whiskey?  

When on a desert island, what whiskey could be more perfect than our Caribbean Cask-Finished Rye? It’s a great innovation within the Rye category and really warms up our whiskey with lovely raisin and tropical fruit notes. It has a slightly higher proof so you can even use it in a tiki-inspired cocktail, like a Rye Tai! 

Redemption Whiskey Cocktail Recipes For National Cocktail Day 

Redemption Garden of Eden 

The Redemption Garden of Eden Cocktail. Credit: Redemption Whiskey

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz Redemption Bourbon 
  • ½ oz lime juice 
  • ½ teaspoon allspice dram  
  • 3 oz Sparkling Apple Cider
  • Garnish: Apple fan & Rosemary sprig  

Method: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker 
  2. Shake with ice 
  3. Strain over ice in a highball glass 
  4. Top with apple cider/soda 

 

Redemption Old Fashioned 

The Redemption Old Fashioned Cocktail. Credit: Redemption Whiskey

Ingredients: 

  • 2 parts Redemption High Rye Bourbon Finished in Cognac Casks  
  • ¼ parts Allspice Liqueur  
  • ¼ parts Monin Pear Syrup  
  • 3 dashes Chocolate Bitters 
  • Garnish: Thin slice of bosc pear and a smoked cinnamon stick 

Method: 

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice 
  2. Stir for 20-25 seconds then strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube 
  3. Garnish 

 

Redemption Ryem Thyme 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ parts Redemption Rye Whiskey 
  • 1 ½ parts grapefruit juice 
  •  ¾ part Aperol 
  • ¼ part lemon juice 

Method: 

  1. Shake all ingredients with ice and a few sprigs of thyme 
  2. Strain over rocks in a Collins glass 
  3. Top with tonic 
  4. Garnish with thyme 

Happy National Cocktail Day 

Happy National Cocktail Day to all who celebrate! 

If you are looking for some more whiskey cocktails to mix up this National Cocktail Day, head over here to find some fantastic recipes. 

For more information on Redemption Whiskey, head over to their website. And a big thank you to Clare Gordon for her insight into Redemption Whiskey and the world of mixology. 

I’m off to make myself a Redemption Ryem Thyme.

Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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