Hey, bartender: Matt Corbin, 7908 Aspen
Ever wonder who exactly is behind the bar shaking up some of your favorite cocktails in town? Here at Bar Talk, we’re on a mission to put a name, plus a little more info, to the face of the kind person behind the bar keeping you hydrated and having fun.
In this first edition of Hey, bartender, we get to know Matt Corbin, the spirits director of 7908 Aspen.
Name: Matt Corbin
Bar location/ job title: 7908 Aspen, Spirits Director
Bar Talk: How long have you been bartending?
Matt Corbin: I started bartending in 2005, but I feel like I’ve been behind the bar my whole life. My mom was pregnant with me when she was bartending … she probably bartended until I was eight or nine. I remember as a kid, sometimes I’d have to go in the bar and I’d just sit there and watch my mom and I remember all that very vividly. When we’d go to restaurants, I’d always be there watching the bartenders, watching everything and just learning, and I still do this when I go to bars I watch every single movement a bartender is making, not to be judgy but to learn. Because when I started bartending, I’m dating myself, whoa, YouTube wasn’t around, so the only way to teach yourself was to ask around, be like “Who makes the best martini?” and you would go to their bar and order it and be like, “Can you show me how to do this?” and they would actually show you and that’s how you’d learn.
BT: What is your favorite bar tool?
MC: My hands.
BT: What are some drinks on the 7908 Aspen menu right now that you are most excited about?
MC: The Popcorn Chronicles (brown butter washed Redemption Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Licor 43, lemon, pineapple, almond, popcorn) is pretty rad, I dig that one a lot. Obviously our Espresso Martini (on the menu as Aspen Extreme … Nitro!), because that took me two years to make. I love the Rhythm of the Islands section (of the menu), it’s so much fun, just because it’s Tiki and it brings me back to my time in Hawaii.
BT: What is your goal with the cocktail program at 7908? Where do you draw inspiration for drinks?
MC: My goal really since day 1 has been to have that connection with the guests, to give them that moment and to transport them somewhere else. These cocktails are designed with references back to our childhood (“The Pagemaster“ drink is named after the 1994 fantasy-adventure kids film). So the whole idea is to transport you to your childhood because cocktails are supposed to be fun. There are a few (cocktails on the menu) that are an ode to or inspired by a cocktail at a bar I’ve been to.
BT: What’s your favorite drink order at the moment?
MC: One of my favorite things is to go into a bar and ask what their weirdest thing is. I don’t care what it is. I’ll get it. But, if I’m just drinking by myself, I drink Blanton’s on the rocks. (Blanton’s is a single barrel bourbon.) That’s it, very simple.
BT: Talking bar etiquette: What’s one good piece of bar etiquette advice for people?
MC: For having great bar etiquette: Having a form of payment ready and leaving your tab open if you’re going to have more than one drink. Those are the two big ones. When we’re really busy it slows us down so much (when people don’t have a form of payment ready), and you know those people who have one drink and close out, one drink and close out. Hey, you want your cocktail fast? I want payment fast so I can keep the vibe rolling.
BT: What do you do when you’re not behind the bar?
MC: I love to snowboard. I love working on my Jeep, that’s a big one for me. I love tinkering, I love building things, I just love doing stuff with my hands, I think that’s what’s drawn me to bartending. Hockey is one of my biggest passions outside of bartending.