Claire Smith was born to be a mixologist. (No, really.) The British cocktail expert’s penchant for flavorful combinations goes way back: “My parents were eternally frustrated with me as a child because I could never be satisfied with just juice,” she told DuJour. “My love of mixology started early on – I was constantly mixing and matching different soft drink combinations, blending ginger ale with orange juice or grapefruit juice.” Of course, Smith evolved beyond the playground. “My initial love for cocktails, I think, stemmed from the movie Cocktail,” she said, “Although the actual drinks in the film were horrible, I was so enamored with Tom Cruise.”
And the rest is history. Now the head of spirit creation and mixology at Belvedere Vodka, Smith has put her creativity to good use. Keep reading for more – including a recipe to the always delicious Cucumber Fix cocktail.
What is the first cocktail you loved?
The first cocktail combination I ever loved was something very cheesy – the piña colada, which is still my favorite guilty pleasure. I have always loved anything with the flavor of coconut and any colorful pool cocktails.
What is your go-to drink?
It really depends on which bar I’m at or which country I’m in, but my go-to is usually a Belvedere on the rocks with a twist of grapefruit – mainly because it’s difficult to get wrong. I spent a long time hating bitters and cocktails made with Campari, but I’ve recently become a fan of Belvedere with a splash of Aperol, a bit of water and a touch of grapefruit.
What are your favorite bars?
In New York, my favorites are Dead Rabbit, Employees Only and Mother’s Ruin.
What are you doing this weekend?
I’m spending Easter weekend in London, so I’ll be chilling out, actually. We’ll go for cocktails at a few classic hotel bars, and I’ll make some cakes to bring to my grandmother on Easter Sunday.
What is the recipe for your favorite spring cocktail?
Spring is a time for really pretty, refreshing drinks, but you still have to acknowledge that it might not be very warm outside. For spring cocktails I like ingredients that are reminiscent of warmer days but still not too summery. The Cucumber Fix is my favorite because it’s got one foot in winter with the absinthe mist on top, and one foot in spring with the flavor of fresh cucumber and elderflower cordial.
1.5 oz Belvedere Bloody Mary
1 oz cucumber juice
Dash elderflower cordial
Dash fresh lemon
Shake with cubed ice
Strain into rocks glass
Mist of absinthe over top of drink
Garnish with fresh cucumber