Sips For Sweets

Wine, beer and cocktail pairings for our favorite bakes around Utah

It’s an ironic statement heard regularly from pastry chefs: They’re not fans of the sweet stuff, themselves. Whether it’s a result of taste-testing sugar in volume during culinary school or subconscious blood-sugar self-preservation, at the most, they’ll try a bite or two to check for balance. But for the most part, their palate preferences lean more to savory than sweet. Their beverage choices also tend to be minimalist: rich roasted coffee, a great glass of wine, hoppy beer or favorite whiskey served neat. With these maxims of minimalism in mind, this month’s Spirit Guide shines a light on recommendations from local chefs and restaurateurs for their favorite pairings to sip along with popular baked bites on March menus.

The bake:
Tradition’s Gingerberry pie

The beverage:
Gentleman & A Scholar

Few things in life are more satisfying than a warm piece of fruit pie topped with rich ice cream. At Tradition, chef Max Shrives has the science of constructing a perfect flaky all-butter piecrust down pat. Says co-owner Ashton Aragon of this neighborhood favorite: “There’s only butter, flour, water and a little salt in the crust. The rest is Max’s magic” in working the dough. The only thing that might make it better is pairing Shrives’ gingerberry pie (strawberry, blackberry and blueberry with a zingy touch of fresh ginger root) with a satisfying whiskey-forward tipple. Aragon recommends the bar’s most popular cocktail, the Gentleman & A Scholar, made with rye whiskey, cognac, housemade plum cordial and local blueberry-cardamom bitters, garnished with a fragrant fresh sage leaf.

501 E. 900 South, SLC

3 Cups’ chocolate cookie and macarons with Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout

The bake:
3 Cups’ chocolate cookie and macarons

The beverage:
Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout

“Everyone loves macarons,” asserts Pastry Chef Jacquelene Smith as the reason she so frequently has them on baking rotation in the bustling Holladay coffee shop. In this case her delicate macaron is slathered with cocoa-nib Italian buttercream and served alongside a dense, chewy, and surprisingly gluten-free dark chocolate cookie. It’s a rich plate made to share. 3 Cups recently received a wine and beer license, allowing customers to pair the sweets with an equally robust local brew, Epic Brewing’s Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. A whiskey barrel-aged dark beer made with cocoa nibs and coffee beans, it decidedly complements, rather than competes with, Smith’s decadent treats.

3 Cups
4670 S. 2300 East, Holladay

The bake:
George’s Strawberry Shortcake

The beverage:
Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon Sparkling Rosé

“I am not sure why, but the simple combination of fresh whipped cream, macerated fresh berries and a biscuit or light cake is always enjoyable to me,” Scott Evans, owner and sommelier of the Pago restaurant group, says. “It’s not too sweet and is a perfect match for slightly sweet beverage pairing.” Evans recommends a rather obscure special-order French wine that he is pleased to introduce at George and his on-site natural wine bar, Bar George. “This is a stunning wine, not to be missed,” says Evans of the single-fermentation sparkling wine with soft spritz and fresh red fruit profiles that go remarkably well with light and subtle fruit-forward desserts. But as it is the only Bugey-Cerdon available in Utah, make sure to snatch up the opportunity while it lasts.

George (formerly Finca)
327 W. 200 South, SLC

Oak Wood Fire Kitchen wood-fired sourdough with a Classic Manhattan

The bake:
Oak Wood Fire Kitchen wood-fired sourdough
The beverage:
Classic Manhattan

Comfort comes in many forms, and for Executive Chef Brandon Price, one of his favorite moments of the day occurs when he pulls fresh sourdough loaves out of the Oak pizza oven, perfectly baked with the residual heat of the night before. He churns house-made crème fraiche into soft peaks—a delightfully tangy whipped butter—to slather a toasted slice of sourdough. A thing of simple beauty, especially when paired with a classic Manhattan stirred up with top-shelf Kentucky bourbon for a late afternoon cocktail break with friends. It’s a food-and-drink pairing that comforts the body and nourishes the soul.

Oak Wood Fire Kitchen
715 E. 12300 South, Draper

The bake:
Bambara‘s Olive oil cake with goat cheese crémeux
The beverage:
Inniskillin Gold Vidal Ice Wine, Niagara Estate 2017

Bambara Executive Chef Nathan Powers has an affinity for ice wines. The rich and dynamic flavors are reminiscent of a “life changing, rare, old Sauternes” he sampled in during his Culinary Institute of America internship in chef Jeremiah Tower’s kitchen decades ago. And, as a native of Rochester, New York, he favors the justifiably famed ice wines from the Finger Lakes region and Niagara Peninsula. When Bambara Banquet and Pastry Chef Marissa Bean developed this confection— a rich olive oil cake, whipped goat cheese crémeux, dried apricot and ginger, a Marcona almond crumble, jauntily topped with a lavender tuille and citrus-forward melon sorbet—Chef Powers knew a libation from his homeland would be a perfect pairing. Inniskillin’s Niagara Estate ice wine has rich dried tropical fruit notes and the luscious structure of a classic Sauternes, making it a delightful sweet balance to the zippy citrus and tangy sour notes of the crémeux.

202 S. Main, SLC

The bake:
Trio’s chestnut chocolate-caramel tart
The beverage:
Swedish Holiday (mulled wine)

“Chestnuts remind me of being in Italy during the holidays,” Robert Angelilli, Trio restaurant group pastry chef, says. “Everywhere you go, you smell roasting chestnuts,” he reminisces. “They speak to me of winter and the harkening of spring.” Taking this inspiration to heart, Angelilli fills his delicate almond flour-based tart crust with a layer of dark, rich caramel and classic chocolate ganache sprinkled with Maldon sea salt, grounded with a generous smear of chestnut purée. He suggests sipping a beverage also grounded in the tastes of Europe: mulled wine. Bar manager Angelique Richter’s delicately spiced concoction—available in early spring for post-skiing sipping—combines both a dry red and sweet white wine, with Tawny port for balance. Notes of citrus, cinnamon, cloves and other aromatics are present but not overwhelming. In a surprising addition, Richter includes a generous handful of almonds to the steaming pot of wine to give body, depth and balance to the resulting brew.

Trio Café Cottonwood
6405 S. 3000 East, Cottonwood Heights

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