Rob Clayton adds a splash of magic mixology to Paddy’s menu

Rob Clayton, bartender at Paddy’s

Rob Clayton began mixing cocktails more than 30 years ago as a way to make a little extra spending money in college.
“And when I would go on spring break, I’d get a job at a poolside bar making all those fancy, fruity Key West drinks,” he said. “Rum punches, mojitos, margaritas.”
He graduated from Lees-McRae in 1991 with a degree in business administration and went on to work in the family business and then in real estate. But over the years, he continued honing his mixology skills whenever he could. His is not your everyday gin and tonic or pina colada. His gin and tonic includes a layer of ginger juice. He grills pineapple, then juices it for a homemade smoked simple syrup for his pina colada.


So it was that when longtime friend Paddy Gibney asked him to train the bartenders at Paddy’s Irish Pub, Clayton was happy to oblige. In fact, Clayton spent two years in Europe as an exchange student sponsored by Gibney’s parents back home in Ireland. “I spent a lot of time in the pubs,” Clayton said.


As part of a revamped bar menu at Paddy’s, Clayton introduced a variety of craft cocktails to the staff.
The result is an intriguing menu that includes a cocktail called the Pit Boss, for which Clayton makes a homemade simple syrup steeped from the same dry rub he uses for barbecued ribs. It also includes


Rob Clayton adds a splash of magic mixology to Paddy’s menu a variation of a white cosmopolitan created by famed chef Daniel Bouludin. Clayton’s version includes vodka, St. Germaine liqueur, white cranberry juice and fresh lime juice. And it’s garnished with an edible flower.
“Bartending is bartending, but I wanted to show them how to make a drink that has more than two components,” he said. “I wanted to teach them how to create a well-balanced drink. It’s a lot like baking; you have to use a recipe.”

This cocktail is a real refresher for summer for which I have made many variations over the years. I’ve taken an old classic rum fizz then put an elevated twist to it by making a blueberry-lavender syrup. I have been using rums made in North Carolina lately, but any white rum will do. Sometimes I garnish this one with a few blueberries and a lemon wheel, but this summer I have been using more edible flowers than I have in the past.

Mango Margarita


Muddle ½ cup of fresh mango into a shaker tin.
Add:
• ½ ounce mango nectar
• 1 ounce fresh Lime Juice
• 1 ounce Cointreau
• 2 ounces Reposado tequila of your choice
Set aside
Step 2:
Prepare a double highball glass
Rim glass with Pink Himalayan Salt (optional).
Fill with ice then add ice to the shaker, shake and
strain into glass
Garnish with a slice of mango and a marigold.


Lavender-Rum Fizz
In a shaker tin add:
• ¾ ounces fresh Lemon Juice
• ¾ ounces blueberry-lavender
syrup
• ½ ounce Cointreau
• 2 ounces Blanco rum
Fill a double highball or Collins glass
with ice. Put ice in the shaker and shake
then strain into glass. Garnish with
some fresh flowers like lavender and
violas

Blueberry-Lavender Syrup
Put two cups of organic raw sugar
in a saucepan and add two cups of
water. Heat until sugar has dissolved
while stirring continuously. Remove
from heat, then add 2 cups of fresh
blueberries and an ounce of organic
food grade dried lavender flowers and
steep until cooled.
Strain through a sieve into a container
for storage in the refrigerator. Set aside
blueberries and lavender in a separate
container for storage in the refrigerator
for use as garnish.
Good for approximately one month.

Rob Clayton’s Watermelon Mojito
• Seedless watermelon chunks
• ½ ounce fresh lime juice
• ¾ ounce rosemary syrup
(instructions below)
• 2 ounces rum
• fresh mint leaves
Add five chunks of fresh seedless
watermelon in a shaker. Add five mint
leaves, lime juice, rosemary syrup and
your favorite Blanco rum (I have been
experimenting with rums made in North
Carolina this summer). Muddle the
ingredients together then set aside.
Prepare a chilled Collins glass by filling
with crushed ice to the top. Add ice to the
shaker, then shake and strain into the glass
to 3/4 full and top with seltzer. Garnish
with a thin slice of watermelon and a sprig
of mint. Enjoy and repeat.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
Measure 2 cups of organic raw cane
sugar in a saucepan, then add 2 cups of
water. Heat while stirring until sugar has
dissolved then remove from heat. Add
several sprigs of fresh rosemary and allow
to steep until the mixture has cooled.
Remove the rosemary and strain the
mixture through a sieve into a container
that can be placed in the refrigerator.
Good for approximately one month while
refrigerated.
Recipes courtesy of mixologist Rob Clayton.