The majority of Brooklyn meet-cutes occur at the ever-popular Brooklyn Flea. That’s how mutual friends introduced Allison Kave, the prizewinning baker behind First Prize Pies, and Kumquat Cupcakery’s Keavy Landreth to each other. Friendship sparks instantly flew. After a few spirited rounds of drinks, an idea for the city’s first dessert and cocktail bar—appropriately titled Butter & Scotch—was born. The rest, as they say, is herstory.
We caught up with Kave and Landreth (just in time for peak pie season!) to talk Crown Heights, strong women, and what they eat at home after a day full of cocktails and sweets.
What Should We Do?!: How have you seen NYC’s dessert scene evolve since B&S’s early pop-up days at [food market] Smorgasburg?
Allison Kave: I think there’s a big trend toward visually over-the-top Instagrammable desserts.
Keavy Landreth: Everything is made for Instagram!
WSWD: What do you make at home when you’re not busy making cocktails and dessert?
Kave: I mostly cook vegan at home! Maybe it’s my way of counteracting all the butter I’m surrounded by at work. As far as drinks go, I generally keep it simple with wine, neat whiskey, or amaro.
WSWD: Where do you find culinary inspiration?
Kave: Everywhere! Sometimes it will be a dish or cocktail I sample at a restaurant; sometimes it will be rooted in nostalgia, or the way certain flavors pair together. I think just being open and realizing that inspiration can come anytime, anywhere, makes you more open to finding it.
Landreth: Most of the desserts at Butter & Scotch are inspired by nostalgia and childhood memories of cooking with my mom.
WSWD: I know you often use B&S as both a space for pop-up dinners and community events like Drunk Dial Congress. What are your favorite ways to bring your Crown Heights community together?
Kave: We love to support the community however we can, whether it’s through fundraising events of our own or supporting neighbors’ efforts by hosting their fundraising parties for marathons, local schools, and so forth. We’re about to launch a weekly Trini Tuesday menu, where people can come and enjoy classic Trinidadian dishes, which is a way to recognize and support the strong culture in this neighborhood.
Landreth: We host a monthly karaoke event called Sing It Loud, Sing It Proud, and we donate 10 percent of the night’s sales to a rotating queer-centric charity. We’re always brainstorming new ways to raise money for a great cause in a fun way! Mostly, though, I’m just thrilled we can have a space in Crown Heights that is judgment-free and open to all.
WSWD: How did you juggle running the show at B&S and writing the cookbook at the same time?
Kave: It was tough! We each set aside time to work off-site for a few hours each week so we could really focus without the distractions of the day-to-day at the shop, but that deadline loomed large!
Landreth: Allison and I took turns spending days in a coffee shop nearby while the other person worked in the shop.
WSWD: What’s the ultimate dessert-cocktail pairing at B&S?
Landreth: We don’t actually have many pairings on our menu, but my personal favorite is one called the Mary Ellen, which is a vodka martini and hot fudge sundae. Mary Ellen was my grandma, and I would oftentimes see her ordering this combination when we went out for lunch or dinner…talk about inspiring!
Kave: I think the quintessential pairing is the Make It Sparkle, which is a slice of our iconic birthday cake with a glass of bubbly! No matter what kind of day you’re having, you can make it feel like a celebration. And if you prefer chocolate, you can swap out the birthday cake for a slice of our Hotline Bling Cake (dark chocolate cake with salted caramel, ganache frosting, and gold glitter “blingkles”), and make it a Champagne Papi.
WSWD: Who’s the ultimate “boss bitch”? What would she drink?
Kave: There are way too many iconic boss bitches to name one the ultimate, but our current cocktail menu highlights a few of our faves and imagines what they might choose to imbibe. Some of my favorites are the Kamala 2020 (named for shero Kamala Harris), which has sherry, brandy, vermouth, lemon, and concord grape (so refreshing and complex); the Bow Down Bitches (named for Queen Beyoncé!), with rye whiskey, raspberry liqueur, pink peppercorn, cinnamon, lemon, and egg white; and the Notorious RBG (for the supremest justice of all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg), with gin, pear liqueur, amaro, and white vermouth.
Landreth: My mother. And she loves her wine.
WSWD: What’s the craziest thing that ever happened in the restaurant?
Landreth: Probably the night we launched our Winter of Women menu. It was the first time we had proceeds from cocktails going to Planned Parenthood and it was bonkers. I was kicked out of my own bar simply because there wasn’t enough space for me to be in there! I remember having some wine across the street while watching streams of people trying to get into our tiny shop.
Kave: It’s hard to pick just one, but the night I walked into our liquor room, picked up what I thought was a case of lemons, and opened it to find a tiny kitten inside was pretty memorable!
Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth’s Faves…in a NY Minute
If WSWD were to plan a day for you, what would you do?
Landreth: I love boats and weird places to eat that are out of my comfort zone, so something combining those.
Bloody Mary (aside from yours)?
Kave: I don’t like Bloody Marys! I’ll take the michelada at Empellon instead.
Place to take out-of-towners?
Landreth: The Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden, followed up by either dinner at Balthazar or $2 beers and cheese puffs at The Levee (depending on the guest).
Kave: Our hot fudge sundae.
Landreth: Snap Mallow Pop at Ample Hills.
Kave: Movies and cocktails at Nitehawk Cinema.
Landreth: Cards at a bar followed by a movie at BAM and dinner at Walter’s. Or staying in my pj’s all day cuddling with my dog and making pasta.
Place to people-watch?
Landreth: Anywhere in NYC! Sheepshead Bay is pretty great, though.