Negroni Week is that magical time of the year, when our tendency for grabbing a cocktail after work can be justified by a charitable kickback. Negroni Week, started by Portland, Ore.’s Imbibe magazine and launched nationwide, encourages bars to donate proceeds from orders of the cocktail to give back to charity. But for this year’s event, only one Brooklyn bar allows you to drink your Negroni and eat it too: Crown Heights’ newly opened boozy bakery, Butter & Scotch.
The four month-old bakery may have just added the Negroni Pie to the menu, but the boozy dessert has been a staple for Butter & Scotch for more than two years. “Ward III in Tribeca had reached out to us asking to make a Negroni Pie for their Sunday night industry night,” Allison Kave, co-owner of Butter & Scotch, explained. Ward III wanted to serve a slice of pie with a shot of Negroni for dessert, so Kave and her business partner, Keavy Blueher, went to work. After trial and error and experimentation (they found great success with a Mint Julep pie), they nailed down the perfect pie-cocktail hybrid. After opening a brick-and-mortar shop with cocktails, pies, cakes, cupcakes, and boozy shakes galore, Kave says they were ready to add the Negroni Pie to their permanent menu. When asked to be a part of Negroni Week, it was a “no brainer” to start whipping up slices of Negroni Pie to serve alongside the cocktail, said Kave. “Pepple are always looking for sort of different iterations of the Negroni [during Negroni Week] instead of just the cocktail–but I do just love that cocktail,” said Kave.
You might mistake the Negroni Pie as a “Jell-O shot” of a pie, as I did, but Kave quickly corrected me. The base recipe is the same as you would use for a key lime pie, she said. But instead of adding in key lime juice, Kave adds in the three ingredients that make a Negroni so tasty (and boozy). It’s a mix of equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth–just like the cocktail recipe–held together by egg yolks and baked for just a few minutes on a classic pie crust. “That was important to us,” said Kave. “We didn’t want it to be overwhelmingly gin, or overwhelmingly Campari; it needed to have the same balance as the cocktail.” The texture is light yet just slightly creamy, and yes, it is boozy. Halfway through the slice and nearly licking the orange zest whipped cream off the plate (made to mimic the orange garnish on a Negroni), I felt buzzed, as if I had just had a Negroni on an empty stomach. Needless to say, the Negroni Pie holds up to the boozy standard of a Negroni.
It’s clear that baked goods aren’t Kave’s only passion, as she described the art of a Negroni in detail. “It’s a very good litmus test cocktail of … how well does a bar know what they’re doing,” she said. “I went somewhere–I won’t say where, but a restaurant that I love that generally makes very good cocktails. I didn’t order a Negroni, but I saw the bartender free-pouring three bottles in one hand to make a Negroni. I was like, ‘You look like a bad ass, but what you’re not recognizing is the viscosity of the Campari versus the gin.’ They’re not flowing at the same rate. It’s not like you can count the same amount and they’re equal parts! They’re not going to be the same amount; it’s different volumes. I was like, ‘You think you’re cool right now, but you’re making a shitty cocktail! Just use a jigger! ‘”
Kave laughed as she compared the trade of making cocktails to baking. “It’s like baking: you have to be precise. There’s a reason we weigh our flour, there’s a reason that I jigger everything.” Clearly, the litmus test for the perfect slice of pie, and the perfect Negroni, is a standard set high for Butter & Scotch.
And not to fret–$1 from every slice and cocktail sold at Butter & Scotch during Negroni Week will go towards the Brooklyn-based Sean Casey Animal Rescue, “a really great animal rescue organization,” Kave said.
Butter & Scotch, 818 Franklin Avenue; Crown Heights