We recently took a trip to Avon to meet up with Shannon Ciralli at Market Place Kitchen & Bar. We heard she is a big fan of Litchfield Distillery spirits and that her craft cocktails not only delight Market Place customers but earned her a 2023 “Bartender of the Year” nomination by the CT Restaurant Association. Spend a few minutes with Shannon and you’ll quickly appreciate her wisdom and passion for the craft, along with her smart and sassy sense of humor. She built us a delicious cocktail called, No Fig Deal, which features our Straight Bourbon Whiskey. We loved it and we’re sure you’ll want to add this recipe to your fall or holiday cocktail list. Read on to learn more!
Batchers: Welcome to Mixology Spirit! Please introduce yourself to our audience and let everyone know what your role is at Market Place.
Shannon: Thank you for inviting me to participate! My name is Shannon Ciralli and I am a Bartender and Assistant Manager at Market Place here at our Avon, CT location.
Batchers: How did you get started in the business? How long have you been working behind the bar?
Shannon: I started in the business about 12 years ago as a server. I was first trained to bartend at an awesome sports restaurant in Tampa, FL. It was a high volume bar, with a massive dining room and patio area that really set me up for success. Since then, I’ve learned something new from every restaurant afterwards. It wasn’t until 5 years ago when I worked with Khalid Williams, whose knowledge about this industry is completely unmatched, that I dove into the actual craft itself. And wow was that a whole new world.
Batchers: What is it about building craft cocktails that really connects with you?
Shannon: Where do I start with this one?! I grew up playing piano. In music, once you know the basics, the opportunities are endless with what you can create. It’s congruent with the craft in my opinion. You take something you know and alter a thing here or a thing there to create something new. Once you have a foundational understanding of how cocktails are built, flavor blending, liquor portions, etc. creating the cocktails just starts to flow from there. I love to challenge myself with new products or flavors I’m not familiar with and see what concoctions result! My favorite part is creating something off menu for a specific guest, and then watch as they love it. That part of the job is really my favorite.
Shannon: First of all, THANK YOU! It is such a huge honor to be recognized and nominated out of hundreds of talented bartenders all throughout the state. For me, the craft itself is something that is constantly evolving and changing with new trends and products. It is an incredible skill to build something new, inventive, or creative that people will enjoy. But that is truly only half of what it takes to be great behind the bar. I pride myself on the ability to connect with the people as well. Ask anyone who visits to my bar — what sets me apart are the relationships I am able to build with every guest that I come across, whether it is my first encounter with them or recurring. The energy, the connections; caring about people is what sets someone apart from being a good bartender and a fantastic one.
Batchers: What advice do you have for folks just starting out in the business?
Shannon: Always, always, always remember there is something more to learn. I may know 10x more than the person on my left, but 10x less than the person on my right. In order to be successful and continue to progress, you have to be humble and ambitious. I’ve never stopped asking questions. I encourage anyone learning a new craft or skill to continue to do the same!
Batchers: Got a great story about a hard night behind the bar?
Shannon: There’s nothing “great” about a “hard” night. I try not to let those few times carry over into everything else. However, the times where, as a bartender or manager, you need to cut someone off or defuse a situation can be really challenging. At the end of the day, being behind the bar is a combination of having a lot of fun with what you do and serving the guests that come in, but you still have a responsibility to yourself, the business, and everyone around you as well. You need to have tough skin to work in hospitality and that’s something you learn with each and every “hard night” behind the bar
Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?
Shannon: At Market Place specifically, we use all of the Litchfield bourbons the most! The warmer flavors like cinnamon, maple, and vanilla bourbons are so fun to play with over the fall and winter seasons. Adding the flavored bourbons in a smoked manhattan or specialty old fashioned are easy, tasty, and a crowd favorite for sure.
Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
Shannon: Anyone in the industry understands how this job is a roller coaster day in and day out. Getting up every week and continuing to love what I do, despite the difficulty sometimes, is really what The Spirit of Hard Work means. It’s easy for anyone to let the 1 out of 10 bad moment ruin the other 9 out of 10 good ones. I keep this in the forefront every day.
Shannon’s featured cocktail is called “No Fig Deal.” It combines two local spirits, our Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Fruitful Mixology’s Fig Liqueur. It’s a well-balanced cocktail that is perfect for the fall season and beyond. Our classic bourbon notes blend nicely with the berry and sweet honey notes from the fig liqueur. Shannon also shared a tip that this recipe works well with our CT-Made Agave Spirits as a substitute for the bourbon.
- 1.5 oz. Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 0.75 oz. Fruitful Fig Liqueur
- 0.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 0.5 oz. Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- Garnish: Thyme Sprig and Luxardo Cherry
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into glass with ice. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a Luxardo Cherry.
Don’t forget to vote for Shannon in this year’s CRAzies Awards! Voting ends at the end of November.
To learn more about Market Place Kitchen & Bar – Avon, visit their website and be sure to connect with them on Instagram. The restaurant is located at 336 W Main St, Avon, CT. To contact or make a reservation, please call 860-470-3641.
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 email@example.com.
©2023 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove