Matthew Sprenkle behind the bar at 1776 Steakhouse.

Matthew Sprenkle, Bartender at 1776 Steakhouse 

Matthew Sprenkle, head bartender at 1776 Steakhouse on Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach explains that a successful bar has the “right feel” and the “vibe.”

“You have to be patient with people and be able to direct the crowd,” he explains. “You don’t want them feeling ignored but don’t want them feeling like they have to bang on the bar.” He creates an environment of  “be patient with me and I’ll be patient with you.”

Sprenkle started working at The Summer House as a barback and progressed all the way to co-owning his own restaurant on Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth called Shore Break Lodge in 2011. The restaurant closed its doors in 2017, when he and his wife welcomed their son Talon. “I wanted to be a dad first and a restaurateur second.” So, in 2018, Sprenkle became a permanent fixture at 1776 Steakhouse. You can find him behind the bar four nights a week.

What wine pairing goes best with steak? A big bold Cabernet Sauvignon. I recommend the Paul Hobbs Crossbarn from Napa Valley. I’m not a total purist; you like what you like.

What’s a  traditional cocktail according to 1776 Steakhouse? We serve a lot of Manhattans, sidecars and stingers, but it would probably be an old fashioned, which has to be muddled with orange, bitters and a cherry.

Is a martini best shaken or stirred? Clear liquor like gin or vodka should be shaken, as it rounds out the flavor. A brown liquor like bourbon should be stirred, because you want that bite to it. When you shake a brown liquor you can dilute the flavor.

Do you really have to measure ingredients? If you’re new to mixing drinks, it’s important, however I do it by feel.


A Beer Shooter

INGREDIENT 1 ice cold beer. Sprenkle suggests a Bud Light.

DIRECTIONS Split beer into two chilled glasses and share with a friend. 

You drink it like a shot (since it’s a shooter) and don’t forget it’s bad luck to set your glass down.

Find this drink on the Summer House Drink Menu as “Sprenkle’s Beer Shooter” from his college Summer House days.

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