It was Saturday morning in the West Village of New York City. The streets were quiet despite the bustle of 20 and 30 somethings on their way to meet friends for brunch. After an argument with my blinking blue dot, I found my way to 62 Carmine Street. I ponied up to the bar, had a quick chat with the server and with no hesitation – I ordered a beer and a cupcake. For breakfast.
Sweet Revenge, founded by Marlo Scott, is known for their spot on pairings of beer, wine and cupcakes. If I may, Marlo had a hand in starting the cupcake revolution. And, no pun intended (seeing as this darling shop is located in Little Italy) Sweet Revenge is the Godfather of cupcakes.
I decided to start with a classic. Their signature “Pure Cupcake” and a Kwak Belgium beer. While I knew both would be scrumptious, I was a bit skeptical on how well you could actually pair a beer and cupcake. First came my beer, like many Belgium beers, it was served in an oddly shaped glass that looked like it would be humiliating to drink out of. And it was. But the beer was good.
Then came my cupcake. I was especially excited to try the Pure because that was the recipe my mother-in-law used to make the cupcakes for our wedding. The secret is the Mexican vanilla, which I had to special order from South of the border. The rich vanilla buttercream is applied in an avant-garde fashion and finished with demerara sugar. It’s a perfectly imperfect indulgence.
Cupcake. Beer. Cupcake. Beer. After a few bites, a look of welcome surprise came over my face. This was probably the most spot-on pairing I have ever had. The toastyness of the beer was warming, almost like I was enjoying my breakfast treat with a cup of coffee. The hints of cherry, clove and brown sugar complimented the rich vanilla cake. Every last bite was exciting. I was quite sad when it was over.
So, I came back the next day. Again, I sat at the bar and this time had a friendly chat with Stew who recommended I try the Pumpkin and Moscato pairing. It was looking like fall outside so I gave it a go. That, and I never refuse cream cheese frosting or champagne.
It didn’t matter that this pairing was not quite as strong as the previous day’s – the pumpkin cupcake was baiser stupéfiant. The cream cheese was delightfully tangy and the perfect compliment to the spicy pumpkin cake. Toasted pumpkin seeds atop added a bit of crunch and salt to make it, dare I say, the best damn cupcake I’ve ever had? I could have sat there all day; eating, drinking, chatting with villagers. But, I had a train to catch at Penn Station, then eventually a flight back to Seattle, where the cupcakes are great – but certainly not this great.