I was lucky enough to get an invitation to a private paired cocktail dinner at a local restaurant.  The restaurant was Beta by Sabor.  The young and talented Chef Mitchell Ciohon expertly prepared and beautifully presented his food.  And the daring drink pairings were provided by mixologist Clint Sterwald.

The experience was a treat.

I brought my husband Randy, and after we handed over our coats, we walked into the lounge and helped ourselves to a delicious oxtail marmalade on toast, pickled vegetables, and fried pork rinds with peppered honey.

We also warmed up our palates with a fruity champagne punch and scotch on the rocks.

But the real show began after we took our seats.

First course

Heirloom Radish Salad

Mixed radishes, celery leaves, boiled peanuts over a roasted garlic and peanut shmear. Topped with Pisco Sour honey and white balsamic viniagrette.

Mr. MacGregor’s Garden

A fruity and refreshing concoction that included Pisco, Aperol, ginger lemongrass syrup and lemon juice.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Aperol in an classic Italian drink called an Aperol Spritz.  It’s simply champagne or sparkling wine topped with a float of Aperol.  It lends a citrusy note to the sparkling wine that I really enjoy, so I was anxious to try this cocktail.  It did not disappoint, and I can imagine enjoying this drink on a warm summer evening on my balcony.

Second course

BLT

Dr. Pepper braised pork belly, tomato jam, and micro greens atop toasted bread sheets.

The bread sheets were actually white bread, pounded thin and toasted so that it had a cracker consistency. This dish was my favorite. The pork belly was perfectly cooked, and all the components of the dish sang a little ditty in my mouth.

Tomato Vesper

Ranson Gin, Rehorst Vodka, Cocchi Americano, Punt e Mes, Tomato Water, Peychaud’s Bitters. 

Sterwald rimmed the glass with some sort of tomato-salt mixture.  The drink was reminiscent of a bloody mary, but much more refined and elegant.

Third course

Barbeque Turkey Tail

Slow confit turkey tail with pickled Door County cherry barbeque sauce over crispy fries. Topped with 6yr aged Widmer Cheddar.

The flavors of this dish were bold, rich, well balanced, and truly delicious.  I cleaned my plate, except for the turkey tail which was a bit fatty for my taste.  I think this dish would have sent me over the moon had it been a turkey leg. (I know… YAWN. What can I say? I’m a comfort food kind of gal at heart.)

Fallen Cherry

Black pepper infused Scotch, vanilla bean syrup, orange juice, Door County cherries, Bittercube Cherry Bark Bitters, Dolan sweet vermouth, egg white.

Sterwald said this is the drink he gives to people who don’t like scotch.  I like scotch, and I could taste it in this drink, but I could see why he said that.  It doesn’t have that punch-in-the-face effect that some Scotch drinks have.  It’s slightly sweet, though not cloying in the least bit.

Final Course

Figgy Chocolate Fizz

Flourless Chocolate Cake atop  a fig-mezcal reduction. Sour cream whipped cream and house made pop rocks streusel.

So this dessert was probably the most interesting dish of the night.  The cake was more like a stiff chocolate pudding with bits of fresh fig buried inside; the whipped cream was treated with liquid nitrogen so it had a hard shell and a creamy whipped cream center, and the fig-mezcal reduction… well, it had mezcal. I’m not a huge fan.  However, I can appreciate what Chef Ciohon did with it.

Fig Mezcal Sour

Fig infused Mezcal, lime juice, lemon juice, cane sugar syrup, egg white, Within 100 spiced fig bitters. 

I tend to be put off by sweet-sour flavors, and as I said before, I don’t really enjoy (though I can appreciate!) Mezcal.  I could tell this drink was an excellent rendition, and again, it was well-balanced and actually quite beautiful.  I had a sip, but Randy drank most of mine.

Those are dried fig chips garnishing the drink. It was quite beautiful, and I'm sorry this photo doesn't do it justice.

After dinner, we were treated to some lovely dessert wine (as well as Mad Dog–you’ll have to ask the owner Paul about it. He tells a great story.), cheese, and chocolate-cherry-bourbon ice cream with chocolate covered bacon made in their fancy schmancy custom-painted stand mixer with liquid nitrogen.

All around, a great evening of amazing food, inventive cocktails, and fun company.

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