Mixology Q&A With Claire Smith Warner

The head of spirit creation at Belvedere vodka talks to Haute Living about her passion for mixology and shares with us her bar drinks of choice as well as her favorite creations.

Belvedere - New York, NY
Belvedere – New York, NY

Why did you choose to be a mixologist?
I have long been fascinated by flavors and aromas and would often create ‘perfumes’ out of flowers as a child. Once I grew up and understood that there was a world devoted to cocktail alchemy, I was hooked. I am especially fascinated by the way vodka allows tightly woven flavors and aromas room to breathe; it elevates your perception of soft and delicate ingredients while providing a key to impenetrable liquors, bitters and herbal tinctures. 

How did your passion for mixology begin?
I read and researched as much as I could and developed a passion for vodka while I was working in cocktail bars throughout my university career. Most of the most successful people I know have a specialized knowledge of one or a few types and styles of spirits, and it is generally the spirit they love the most. For me, Vodka is very much a subtle spirit, yet can do things to ingredients no other spirit can; it elevates your perception of soft and delicate ingredients while providing a key to impenetrable liquors, bitters and herbal tinctures. In short, I’m a little bit obsessed with vodka, and my career has allowed me to indulge my passion, which in turn has meant I’ve had the opportunities to learn as much as I can and share this information with anyone who is interested in a similar subject

What are your favorite seasonal ingredients?
I’m inspired by different flavors as seasons change, and it should naturally follow that utilising seasonal ingredients not only ensures their maximum freshness, but also taps into how our preferences shift throughout the year. For me, this time of year is very much about sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and clove as well as berries and stone fruits. 

What are your favorite seasonal cocktails?
A martini is a wonderful cocktail that never fails to be out of fashion, nor out of season. For me, I’m a fan of a wet Belvedere Martini shaken with a dash of Dolin dry vermouth and a grapefruit twist.

Claire then shared some of her favorite creations and recipes, perfect for a late night dinner or a Sunday brunch:Holiday Martini_hi resSpiced Rye Martini

2.5 oz Belvedere Pure
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
1 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Clove

Directions: Combine Belvedere, vermouth and spices in mixing glass with ice. Stir for 25 seconds and strain in to a chilled glass. Garnish with the same spices that were stirred and twist with an orange peel and discard.

All that Glitters_hi resAll That Glitters

1.5 oz Belvedere Wild Berry
0.75 oz lemon juice
1 oz simply syrup
1.5 oz sparkling wine

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a starfruit slice. 

Unfiltered Apple Rye Collins_hi resBelvedere Unfiltered Apple Rye Collins

1.5 oz Belvedere Pure or Unfiltered
0.5 oz dark rum
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
1.5 oz unfiltered (cloudy) apple cider