Colonial America Pairing Dinner

By Jonathan Laurel January 31, 2019 Cocktails Events Food

Our first cocktail pairing dinner of 2019 will be on Thursday, February 14—yes, Valentine’s Day, though we’re welcoming couples and groups alike! We’ve been waiting since New Year’s Eve to tell you all about this dinner and we’re so excited to share it with you. The menu will further explore the theme of our current cocktail menu, Volume 4: Colonial America, with each dish and its cocktail pairing inspired by 18th century North American staples. By “North American” we mean that we’ve taken inspiration from multiple cultures present on the continent in the 18th century, not just British colonials. (Scroll to the bottom for the full menu.)

Our first course, the “Three Sisters Salad,” is a reference to a triad of crops whose ecological utility led to them being prevalent—even ubiquitous—native crops on the continent: squash, corn, and beans. These three crops were commonly cultivated together before the arrival of European settlers, with each plant doing its part to maintain a healthy over all cultivation. Markedly different from the Three Sisters but equally distinct is the “Red Flannel Hash” option for the main course, a nod to Irish (immigrant) soldiers, who are believed to have eaten this classic corned beef hash, with beats added, during the Revolutionary War. And for dessert we’re serving Conchas with a spicy mezcal hot chocolate for dipping. Conchas are an enriched sweet bread with a patterned, sugary crust introduced and developed by Iberian bakers in New Spain (Central America) and culturally enshrined with its partner: the native hot chocolate beverage.

colonial america pairing dinner

Of course, we’re bringing some Colonial classics as well, like a New England style chowder, cold water lobster tails, a Shepherd’s Pie with lamb, and the lesser known Scrapple. Each of these dishes had a particular economy in Colonial America. Lobsters were seen as lowly bottom feeders so undesirable they were used as bait for eels—very much the rage in Britain—and sold (or thrown) to prisoners, farm hands, and slaves as a cheap source of sustenance. The Cottage Pie is the 18th century ancestor of the Shepherd’s Pie, it’s name coming from modest, sheep farm beginnings. The Pennsylvania Dutch are believed to have created Scrapple as early as the 17th century as a way to utilize a whole animal by stewing less desirable animal parts in water with onions and cheap grains, then cooking it into a sausage-like loaf. Each of these things has found new life in 20th and 21st century cuisine, but their origins in the early life of the country illustrate interesting arcs in the evolution of the collective palate.

The pairings for this dinner have also been an exciting opportunity to refine and finalize some cocktail recipes that did not make it into Volume 4 but find old roots in the 18th century. We’re bringing out a house Negus—a warm, three hundred year old mixed drink related to the Wassail but made with our cherry cordial—to pair with the chowders, to supply a subtle acidity to cut through the heaviness of the fumet and creamy broth. The hot chocolate for the Conchas will be a warming, bittersweet, chili and mezcal offering in which to dip your pan dulce, and served with small meringues. And there will be a tribute to the Stone Fence, a curious drink comprised of hard cider and rum that allegedly warmed (or “inspired”) Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys when they rowed across Lake Champlain in the middle of the night to take Fort Ticonderoga.

You can expect other cocktails from our current and previous menus as well. Other pairings include the White Sangaree, the Gin & Pine, our new Faust cocktail, and the Horn of Plenty. The four course food menu can also be accompanied with à la carte drinks, if you prefer to choose your own adventure.

The four course Prix Fixe menu with pairings is $75; the four courses themselves are $50, with drinks available à la carte. Reservations can be made through OpenTable or through emailing us at guestservices@westmain.com, or by calling the bar at 859.618.6318.

colonial america pairing menu