Crown Heights’ Butter & Scotch is, according to owners Allison Kave and Keavy Blueher, “the bar & bakery of your dreams." The women behind the unusual combination-business specialize in creative riffs on classic American desserts and craft cocktails. Brownies and boulevardiers, anyone? Allison and Keavy also happen to be the proud recipients of the Voters Choice Award at the inaugural Queen Bee Cocktail Classic in 2014! Their entry, “The Honeychile Rider,” featured Tuthilltown Spirits’ Half Moon Orchard Gin, made just north of here in the Hudson Valley, as well as Mike’s Hot Honey (you can read our interview with Mike here!), combining these local ingredients with tropical passionfruit, and Bitterman’s Tiki Bitters, for a flirty, spicy cocktail that stole attendees’ hearts and palates. Butter and Scotch know their way around honey both in the kitchen and behind the bar. Today, on the Bee-Log, they join us, alongside Beverage Director Jen Marshall, to share the Butter & Scotch story with us!
What started your passion for cocktails & baking?
Allison: I've been baking since I was a teenager, with a real focus on pies. The interest in cocktails started pretty early too - my mom makes a mean hot toddy and was dishing those out as cold remedies from an early age! But I started bartending in my early 20s as a way to make extra cash, and it was my moonlighting gig for about a decade. I really fell in love with cocktails as a result, and approach developing those recipes in a very similar way to dessert recipes.
Jen: Both of my parents were bartenders in SF, so I literally grew up in the industry. It's only natural that I followed in their footsteps.
Keavy: A love for sweets and experimenting with food has been with me since I was very little. Instead of playing house I would play bakery - I would steal everything from my mother’s kitchen, put it in a bowl, and attempt to make the worlds greatest creations. They were always terrible of course, but my mother was very supportive!
What's your favorite way to use honey in baking?
Allison: I think it's a great alternative to corn syrup and other invert sugars, it gives great flavor while providing the syrup texture that a lot of recipes need.
Keavy: What Allison said!
What's your favorite way to use honey in your cocktails?
Allison: Honey simple syrups are a great way to add more nuanced and flavorful sweetness to cocktails over straight sugar simples. I particularly love them with citrus or anything floral, like an aviation.
Jen: I love that honey syrups can be made with various different specs, depending on how strong you want the honey flavor (1:1, 2:1, etc). I also love pairing honey with ginger.
What should people look for when buying ingredients/spirits? Focus on local?
Allison: I think it's great to work with local ingredients and get to know where your food is coming from. Above all though, quality is the most important thing.
Keavy: Local is always good, and quality is key, but I think it's just about trusting your own palate. Eat and drink everything so you can figure out what it is you like. For example, I love a good quality local sharp cheddar, but I'm going with american cheese on my double cheese burger every time.
Tell us how you met and decided to go into business together?
Allison: Keavy and I met about 5 years ago, through a mutual friend, and are part of the same social circle. We both had similar businesses at the time (First Prize Pies for me, Kumquat Cupcakery for Keavy), selling our desserts at weekend markets and doing catering and wholesale. I think we both hit that same wall at the same time, and were ready to open a brick-and-mortar but not interested in doing a traditional bakery format. Jen was my boss at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, where she was Beverage Director and I was a bartender. We became good friends and when we were getting ready to open up, Keavy and I knew we needed Jen on our team, both for her incredible experience and knowledge, and her amazing friendship and personality.
Jen: Having been familiar with B&S from it's inception due to my working relationship with Allison, I was thrilled to join the project when the time came.
What does being a "sustainable business" mean to you?
Allison: We do what we can to make as little impact as possible. It's hard when you're running a business, chugging through gallons of water a day and running a lot of equipment, but we do our best to contribute where we can. We compost everything we can, we have low-voltage LED lights throughout our space, and the most energy-efficient equipment we could afford. It's also about using quality ingredients and supporting good farming and business practices.
Jen: There's also the element of providing a neighborhood destination for those who live nearby; filling a niche so that people don't need to travel as far for a night out. It's a small carbon footprint impact, but one nonetheless.
Keavy: Treating your employees well. Hiring from the area where we opened was very important to us, as is paying everyone a living wage and treating them with respect.
What's in the food forecast for 2015?
Allison: I'm so bad at this! I know what we want to do: come up with really fun, playful, delicious recipes. We've got a bunch of ideas for more of our Jell-ohhh Shots (house-made gelled cocktail shots), and we're working on our Butter & Scotch cookbook, so I'm sure we'll have lots of cool stuff in the pipeline.
Jen: More creative bakery-to-bar collaborations, finding innovative ways to combine both into one delicious treat.
Keavy: Crazy fun Jell-o shots for sure! We just added them to our menu at the shop and people have been going bonkers for them. Watch out world!