We are pleased to feature Madeline “Maddie” Schneider on our latest installment of Mixology Spirit. Maddie is head bartender at Swyft in Kent, CT and serves up carefully-crafted cocktails built with fresh, seasonal ingredients that complement Swyft’s farm-to-table menus. Watch Maddie work behind the bar and you will see that she is a confident and focused bartender, mindful of the precision it takes to build a perfectly-balanced cocktail. She presents her drinks with a warm disposition and friendly smile, which help create the welcoming and community-minded experience that so many Swyft patrons appreciate. Swyft is a modern tavern in a historical setting, serving wood-fired, farm-driven pizzas, shareable small plates, and seasonal entrees. The restaurant was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best Restaurant 2023 issue as a best “Overall Experience” and “Most Romantic” restaurant. Read on to learn more about Maddie’s approach to bartending and to see her build a delicious Coffee Manhattan.
Batchers: Welcome to Mixology Spirit! Please introduce yourself to our audience and let everyone know what your role is at Swyft.
Maddie: My name is Madeline Schneider and I am the head bartender at Swyft in Kent, CT. My role is to oversee the daily bar operations and our seasonal cocktail menu. Right now, I am also developing our farm-to-table cocktails for our fine dining concept, Ore Hill.
Batchers: How long have you been working as a bartender? How did you get your start?
Maddie: I have been bartending for about six years now and I have been at Swyft for the past three years. I started in the service industry what feels like ages ago, definitely well over a decade, at Doc’s Trattoria, which was also here in Kent. Returning to work in Kent and bartend at Swyft feels serendipitous in many ways.
Batchers: Tell our audience a little bit about Swyft. What makes it unique and what can customers expect when they dine there?
Maddie: Swyft is such a special restaurant, we work closely with Rock Cobble Farm in South Kent to inspire and source much of our menu. It’s amazing to work with ingredients sourced from our own backyard, literally. We pick shiso and apples in the fall from the garden outside our fine dining restaurant, Ore Hill. My team and I usually spend about two months working on seasonal cocktails for our menu; constantly testing and reworking them until we feel they are perfect.
Batchers: Do you have a particular creative process or approach when it comes to creating your own cocktail recipes?
Maddie: My creative process is collaborative and flexible. All of our bartenders are encouraged to submit and workshop ideas. I like to push them to think outside of the box and be inspired to “play around” and then we work through the creative process together. If I have an idea, I’ll start experimenting and tinkering, always encouraging coworkers to taste and give feedback.
Our beverage director and sommelier, Emma, also shares her ideas with me and she also tastes and gives feedback on cocktails I’ve started to develop. No idea is too out there for me, and it’s nice having a partner like Emma who will support my sometimes off-the-wall ideas. I like to think I lead a creative, supportive bar team and the bar is our workshop/playground.
Batchers: What do you love the most about bartending and working in the restaurant industry?
Maddie: I think what I love most about bartending is the opportunity to create something new. Everyone has their own taste preferences and personal palate, so to create a well-rounded cocktail that is appreciated by all is definitely an achievement. Overall, I love having the opportunity to help make a great and memorable experience for someone.
Batchers: Got a great story about a hard night behind the bar?
Maddie: I recall a really busy summer night, and we were definitely in the weeds. As a table was leaving, one of the guests took a moment and came up to the bar to thank us for his drinks. It is times like those that make all the hard work worth it. Everyone in the service industry knows what it feels like to be “drowning,” so when someone is appreciative and thankful of the experience they were provided, there is definitely a feeling of satisfaction.
Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?
Maddie: My favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with would have to be their Gin. It’s crisp and clean and the flavor notes of citrus and vanilla remind me of spring and summer, which are some of my most inspiring months. Rock Cobble Farm brought me pounds of lemon verbena and rose geranium last summer, which I infused with Litchfield Distillery Gin. It was really fantastic!
Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
Maddie: For me, the spirit of hard work means seeing something through to the end, always focusing on your vision and manifesting it to come to fruition. This means putting in the work day in and day out, while supporting your team creatively and positively to help them achieve their end goal, as well.
Maddie’s featured cocktail is a “Coffee Manhattan” or as the Swyft staff likes to call it, the “Sweet Maddius.” Think of it as a creative collision between a Manhattan and Espresso Martini. It is rich and decadent…a perfect choice to enjoy after a meal.
- 1.0 oz. Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 0.5 oz. Cynar
- 0.5 oz. Vanilla Liqueur
- 0.25 oz. Chocolate Liqueur
- 1.0 oz. Vanilla Bourbon Syrup
- 1.5 oz. Espresso or 2.0 oz. Cold-Brew Coffee
- 3 dashes Chocolate Bitters
- Garnish: Heavy Cream & Shaved Chocolate
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a large coupe glass. Drizzle heavy cream and shave some chocolate on top to garnish.
To learn more about Swyft, visit their website and be sure to connect with them on Instagram and Facebook. Swyft is located at 3 Maple Street in Kent, CT. To contact or make a reservation, please call 860 592 0404 or email email@example.com.
About Mixology Spirit:
Mixology Spirit is a Litchfield Distillery blog series dedicated to sharing the stories of creative and passionate mixologists who embody The Spirit Of Hard Workc. Think you got what it takes to be featured? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2023 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove