Mixology Spirit: Matt Gilbode
The Greater Litchfield Region is home to some amazing restaurants — restaurants that are great supporters of Litchfield Distillery. That’s why we were excited to meet up with Matt Gilbode, Manager at Market Place (Litchfield). Matt is a big fan of our spirits and he truly embodies The Spirit of Hard Work®. When he’s not managing the restaurant, you’ll find him working on an active farm. In between, he somehow finds time to restore classic cars. Matt decided to put his own unique fingerprint on a classic drink for our interview: a Smoked Cherry Manhattan. It’s a fragrant and enticing drink that is well worth a road trip to Market Place. If you haven’t yet visited Market Place in Litchfield, it’s a great experience — beyond the amazing food, drinks and hospitality, the restaurant is located in the Old Litchfield Jail, which provides a most unique atmosphere. It is the oldest public building in Litchfield and was built in 1812 to serve as a jail for British prisoners during the War of 1812. The restaurant interior was designed to preserve the integrity and history of the building, highlighted by several jail cells that overlook the three-story bar. Today, with Matt’s team at the helm, you definitely won’t mind serving time in Litchfield!
Batchers: Welcome to Mixology Spirit, Matt! What is your title and role at Market Place?
Matt: Thank you for inviting me on the blog, I really appreciate it. I am currently the Manager at Market Place in Litchfield. Prior to my current role, I served as a bartenders here.
Batchers: How long have you been working behind the bar? Where did you get your start?
Matt: I have worked on the bar for about three years now. I started my bartending career at Mercato in Southbury right before the pandemic shutdowns occured.
Batchers: When you’re not working at Marketplace, you’re living and working on a farm. Are there any similarities to running a farm and managing a restaurant or bar? How does your farm experience make you a better manager at Marketplace?
Matt: I’d have to say that there are more differences than similarities. The hospitality industry is more guest oriented while farming is heavy labor and requires powering through. The long hours on the farm definitely helped prepare me for the demands at the restaurant. While each have their struggles and grueling moments, my hardest farm days make me appreciate my shifts at the restaurant. Finishing a busy day at Market Place creates a feeling of accomplishment…and it sure feels nice. When I first started managing, having the energy and confidence to dig in and power through unexpected challenges has helped my team get through the more difficult shifts.
Batchers: We hear you are a fan of classic cars and trucks. What are some of the favorites you’ve bought and restored?
Matt: When I was 19, I did a 1973 Ford Maverick with my uncle. It was the first true project I worked on and it sure taught me a lot about the world of cars. I was eager to start another project after I worked on that one. Currently, I am building a 1976 Mustang II.
Batchers: For the home bartender, what would you say are some of the most important things to remember when building craft cocktails?
Matt: I would say if you were trying to recreate specialty cocktails just stick to the specs. If you aren’t sure, there really isn’t a rule to building your own cocktails, just make it how you like it and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Batchers: Got a great story about a hard night behind the bar?
Matt: I’ll never forget one night when the other bartender who was supposed to work with me called out. It was beyond busy and I was in the weeds, but I dug deep and got the job done. I made sure my guests were the main priority and I pumped out drinks left and right. I was definitely in the zone. When it gets that busy, you just have to put your head down and get the job done. On crazy nights, the tickets won’t stop coming and neither do the guests. That’s just part of the experience and I love every second of it.
Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?
Matt: I really love working with their Blueberry Vodka during the summer months. I use it pretty regularly for specialty cocktails. Recently, I featured two amazing cocktails with it: a Blueberry Spritz and a Blueberry Cookie Crumble Espresso Martini. That said, heading into the colder season, I always love working with Litchfield’s Maple Bourbon.
Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
Matt: When I hear The Spirit of Hard Work, it makes me think of the American dream. Work hard for what you want and never give up until you achieve it. Having “The Spirit of Hard Work” on the shelves at Market Place, on display, is a great reminder that I’m working where I want to be. Having a strong work ethic gives me confidence that my life journey will be filled with many rewarding opportunities.
Matt’s featured cocktail is a Smoked Cherry Manhattan—a drink currently on the fall cocktail menu at Market Place – Litchfield. Matt chose to build this drink with our Maple Bourbon and substituted cherry bitters for Angostura. The icing on the cake is the cherry wood smoking chips that stun the senses with a captivating visual presentation, inviting aromatics, and a smokey cherry flavor that nicely complements our Maple Bourbon’s sweet notes.
- 2.0 oz. Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 1.0 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Matt uses Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth)
- 2 Dashes Cherry Bitters
- Cherry Wood Chips (for smoker)
- Brandied Cherry for garnish
Method: Pour Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters into mixing glass and stir to chill. Strain into rocks glass. Light a smoke infuser with cherry wood chips and pour into martini glass,. Garnish with brandied cherry.
To learn more about Market Place Litchfield, visit their website and follow them on Instagram or Facebook. Matt invites you to follow him on Instagram page. Market Place Litchfield is located at 7 North Street in Litchfield, CT. To contact or make a reservation please call (860) 361-9930.
SPECIAL EVENT! Be sure to join us for a special Bourbon Dinner at Market Place Litchfield. It’s taking place on Thursday, December 15th at 6pm. Tickets for the four-course dinner paired with Litchfield Distillery Bourbon are $85/person (tax & gratuity not included). Limited seating, so reserve your ticket by calling 860-361-9930.
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 Work®. Think you got what it takes to be featured? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2022 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove
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