Village Garage is yet another newcomer to the neighborhood when it comes to the craft distillery craze, but they waste no time catching up.
Vermont has long been at the forefront of the Locavore, Farmer’s Market and Farm to Table culinary trends. It’s by far the best craft cheese producer in the country – and arguably the best region in the world – as well as one of the best states for craft beer, leading in both breweries per capita and quality, including a which has been ranked the best in the world. Beer.
Craft distillation followed suit, with many of Vermont’s top brands such as legendary rye producer Pig Whistleand honey-based gins from Barr Hill Distillation. They are America’s most awarded rye and gin, respectively. But the latest big news in a state famous for the quality of its agriculture is Distillery Village Garagea new facility in Bennington, Vermont that makes craft spirits from locally grown corn and rye in Green Mountain State.
Besides its very high quality spirits (I have tried them), what sets Village Garage apart is that it offers more attraction for visitors to the state. First, Bennington is at the southern end of Vermont, near the New York border, significantly closer to major northeast population centers and the tri-state metro area transit market. of New York than its peers, making it easier to access. Plus, it just expanded beyond simple distillation with the opening of Servicenter at Village Garage Distillery, a restaurant and tasting room showcasing local suppliers.
Service center offers an extensive full menu including small plates, salads/bowls, bar snacks, main dishes, entrees, sweets and a children’s menu. Highlights include Bourbon Mac and Cheese made with a blend of Vermont cheeses and house whiskey; Poutine with Maplebrook Farm cheese curds (located three miles away); Grown Up Grilled Cheese with local cheese, caramelized balsamic onion, crispy apple slices and pork belly served on grilled waffles; Bourbon barrel-roasted salmon brushed with bourbon barbecue sauce and roasted on repurposed barrel boards; and a charcuterie platter of local meats and cheeses, pickled onions, olives, spiced nuts, stone-ground mustard, fig jam, and crusty bread.
The cocktail menu offers a variety of classic cocktail riffs, such as the Village Maple Walnut Old Fashioned, the Razerac (Village Rye and house raspberry liqueur) and the Nor’easter (Village Vodka, milk, house coffee liqueur, syrup maple). A tasting volley of its three current whiskeys, Village Bourbon, Rye and Bonfire is served on a stave from a barrel in which the whiskeys have aged.
The kitchen of this new restaurant is led by chef Jonathan Studley, whose roots in the hospitality industry date back 40 years. He has worked in 3-star Michelin kitchens, New York legend Windows on the World and resort restaurants from Maui to the Hamptons. Chef Jonathan works with local growers and producers to source star ingredients including greens, mushrooms, exquisite cheeses and other items that rotate with the seasons. The spent grains from the distillation process are supplied to local farms to feed the livestock which will then be presented on the menu, further closing the circle of community agriculture.
The bar and tasting room experience is led by Alexander von Pfieffer, former manager of some of New York’s top craft cocktail bars, including Employees Only Amor y Amargo, Due West, and Blacktail. “It has been exciting developing this cocktail menu, which showcases in-house produced spirits and liqueurs and complements the craftsmanship evident throughout this project,” he said. “The menu features build-it-yourself Old Fashioned and Highball experiences that encourage our customers to experiment and be creative here at the bar and keep them going with the bottles they take home.”
Village Garage Distillery was started by Bennington natives Matt Cushman and Glen Sauer, who are inspired by the land their families have farmed here for eight generations. The Distillery opened its doors in August 2021, and Servicenter just opened in March 2022 (Thursday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
The first wave of releases includes Village Bourbon, made from corn and rye grown in Vermont and aged 5 years in new American white oak barrels (it was first custom distilled by Cushman and Sauer in another local Vermont distillery until their installation is complete) and Village Vodka. These products are available nationally and online, while limited editions and new releases can be found at the Bennington location – another reason to visit! These include a new Rye whiskey, using Vermont malted rye, new and 2-year aged American white oak, as well as the campfire-inspired Village Bonfire bourbon, which combines 5-year aged whiskey with locally sourced smoked maple syrup.