Actor Jonathan Goldsmith Lives a Most Interesting Life in Vermont - Happy Vermont

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Jonathan Goldsmith Lives a Most Interesting Life in Southern Vermont

Actor Jonathan Goldsmith first visited Vermont as a teenager. At that time, the Bronx-born adolescent had no idea he would eventually make the Green Mountains his permanent home.

Back then, Goldsmith’s father had a farmhouse in Ghent, N.Y., and they often traveled to the Manchester area during summers to fly fish on the Battenkill River or visit Bennington Potters. Goldsmith’s memories of Southern Vermont remained etched in his mind and influenced his decision later on to return for good.

In 2010, at the height of his fame as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign for Dos Equis, he and his wife, Barbara, decided to escape the spotlight’s glare and relocate to Manchester Center.

“When the campaign hit—I lost my anonymity. It turns out we have more friends here than we did living in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills for 45 years,” he says. “The very nature of life here is at a slower pace. Los Angeles is a mad traffic jam of noise. Here, we have more time for relationships, and that’s important.”

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Jonathan Goldsmith Glen Sauer Vermont

-Cheers to Jonathan Goldsmith and Village Garage co-founder Glen Sauer. All photos by Eric van den Brulle.

Becoming Chief Storyteller for a Bennington Distillery

Last month, Village Garage, a Bennington distillery, announced a partnership with Goldsmith, who will serve as Village Garage’s chief storytelling officer.

Village Garage was founded by Glen Sauer and Matt Cushman, who grew up in Bennington. While looking for a location, Sauer knew of the perfect spot—the historic Village Garage near the four corners of downtown Bennington. Initially, it was a tractor dealership that served the local farm community and later housed the town’s old highway equipment.

Goldsmith became a fan of Village Garage the first time he set foot inside.

“I’ve always been entrepreneurial minded. So, when I first went there socially a couple of times, I fell in love with the design of the place,” Goldsmith says. “And the distillery stands apart because of the simplicity and purity of its products. It’s not embellished, and it’s from the earth.”

Jonathan goldsmith Village Garage Vermont

11 Questions with Jonathan Goldsmith

When Goldsmith is not promoting Village Garage, he’s living life to the fullest in Vermont. Here’s how. (This Q&A has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

What are some of your favorite places in Vermont?

I’m a fisherman, and I have a 16-foot aluminum boat that I take out on Lake Bomoseen. The ride from Manchester to Bomoseen (in Castleton) through the Mettawee Valley—I love it. I love to see working farms and the land between the Taconic Mountains and the farm fields.

I also love the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester and Simon Pearce in Quechee. When I’m outside, I’m absolutely taken with those wonderful out-of-the-way streams you find in Vermont. And I love to drive backroads not knowing where I’m going or caring—but just being there.

How do you feel about winter?

I used to ski, but I don’t anymore. If you don’t ice fish—that to me is torture—there’s nothing much to do. I read a lot. The winter here is long. We sleep as long as possible and like to go out for lunch.

Speaking of meals, what are some of your favorite restaurants in Southern Vermont?

The Dorset Inn, The Silver Fork and The Chantecleer.

What is your idea of a perfect Vermont day?

Nothing beats those first crisp days of fall and the promise of snow in the air.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room is the library. I read in there and watch the weather change from our windows.

What do you value most about Vermont?

The people because they are genuine. Vermonters are also into nature and aware of the importance of preserving and nurturing the earth.

What’s your favorite Vermont season?

The fall, by far. The leaves change color; it’s such a beautiful time of year. Anticipating the glory of fall is wonderful.  My dad was a track coach at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, and so many of my memories of him are from the fall.

Summer is my least favorite. I don’t care for the heat. I have a lovely pond, though.

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Jonathan Goldsmith Village Garage

Village Garage makes bourbon, vodka, rye and whiskey. What drew you to working with the distillery?

I met owner Glen Sauer, and he’s a very interesting man. I listened to his ideas, and he’s a very creative fellow. He showed me around and talked about his vision and what he wanted to do. He knew who I was, and we discussed the possibility and saw potential. The team at Village Garage cares about their products and is civic minded. I like that they give back to the community.

You’re a well-known philanthropist supporting a variety of important causes. You help various organizations, including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. How did that all start?

I’ve always considered myself to be very lucky. Years ago, I worked for Herald Tribune’s Fresh Air Fund, where they bring kids up from the city for two weeks. Back then, I wanted to make helping others my life’s work. Sometimes, I’m sorry I didn’t. I still get letters from the kids I met at the Fresh Air Fund 65 years ago.

I also taught acting with Sheree North. We worked as a team to bring arts programs into prisons in Southern California. We also offered free arts programs for abused children. Helping others has always been important to me. Nobody taught me this, but I always knew how many people needed help. It’s so easy to do, and kindness doesn’t cost anything.

One more thing: what is your go-to stick season drink?

I love an Old-Fashioned. The Village Garage has a drink called Village Bonfire, a smoked maple whisky. I don’t like sweet stuff, but bonfire has just enough sweetness for me. It’s perfect for an Old-Fashioned.

Can you share the recipe?

  • 2 .oz Village Bonfire
  • 0.25 Vermont (mid-grade) maple syrup
  • 4 dashes walnut bitters
  • Stir for at least 30-seconds
  • Garnish with a fresh orange peel


Learn more about the Village Garage in Bennington.


Jonathan Goldsmith Glen Sauer Village Garage



Bennington, Bennington County, Food & Drink, Manchester, Southern Vermont
  • Larry Bohen
    Posted at 09:08h, 02 December Reply

    Great article!

  • May Woznek
    Posted at 09:39h, 02 December Reply

    Wonderful article. A Vermont gin would be a life enhancement.

  • Erica
    Posted at 14:31h, 02 December Reply

    Thanks so much! It was fun to write.

  • Erica
    Posted at 14:32h, 02 December Reply

    I agree, May!

  • Linda Cox
    Posted at 06:39h, 04 December Reply

    Fun facts! Interesting as I lived in Vermont and still favor the time there … people and environment!

  • Erica
    Posted at 09:46h, 04 December Reply

    Thanks, Linda! A wonderful place to spend time.

  • Chris J Bullock
    Posted at 00:38h, 06 December Reply

    Greetings from Cupertino, California! GREAT article as always Erica. You meet and interview such interesting people. Your writing has style; your articles are spectacular, and you make me feel proud to say that I am and always will be a Vermonter.

    • Erica
      Posted at 11:56h, 06 December Reply

      Hi Chris! So good to hear from you. I read that the inn was sold and I had been wondering where you landed. Thanks for saying hello and please keep in touch from sunny California! -Erica

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