From Bourbon to Birthday Cake
If you have any kind of sweet tooth, a visit to Brooklyn bar and bakery Butter & Scotch is a must for the New York bucket list. The place serves the city’s best birthday cake (according to New York Magazine, and we’re not going to argue), in addition to a variety of other mouth-watering sweets—pie! milkshakes! cookies! The full bar rotates its themed seasonal drink menus, which this fall feature the “Bad Feminist” (a rum, chile liqueur, coffee liqueur, orange juice, lime, and star anise slushie) and the brandy-based “Kamala 2020.” The bar does, indeed, wear its political leanings on its sleeve—they donate $1 from each cocktail to Planned Parenthood. Owners Allison Kave and Keavy Blueher have incorporated political action into their business since the election. And indeed there may be no better way to convince your local congressperson than with a tasty Jello shot on the side.
Over the past few months, the bar’s become very politically active. How has this has changed your business, and the bar? Do you have any special events or fundraising opportunities planned for this fall?
After the 2016 election, we were both feeling pretty demoralized and powerless. We realized that we had this amazing opportunity to channel our business into benefitting causes that are close to our hearts, while creating a space for members of our community to come together and pursue positive change, all while enjoying themselves. The reception was tremendous, and I think it’s really cemented Butter & Scotch as a resource and safe space for the neighborhood.
We donate $1 from the sale of every seasonal cocktail to Planned Parenthood and host monthly events like our “Sing It Loud, Sing It Proud” karaoke nights, which benefit rotating charities and nonprofits. (For the September event, we donated 10% of sales to Unidos, which provides relief to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.) We also welcome our neighbors to partner with us to host their own fundraisers at the bar and periodically host “Drunk Dial Congress” events, during which we give out free shots to anyone who calls their congressperson.
What do you love about the neighborhood of Crown Heights?
Crown Heights is one of the most culturally rich and diverse areas in Brooklyn. We are so grateful to serve a neighborhood with such pride in its history. We’re also near a number of Brooklyn’s most prized cultural landmarks: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum, and Prospect Park. We’re a stone’s throw from a number of delicious and varied restaurants. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to do business.
Describe how you developed the fall cocktail list and what we can look forward to drinking.
We change the cocktail menu every season, and it’s always a really collaborative effort. Everyone on the bar team contributes ideas and specs for cocktail recipes, and we all work together to taste and refine. There’s always a fun theme (this season it’s Boss Bitches!), and the drink names reflect that. I’m crazy about all of our new drinks. Some of my personal favorites are the Samantha Jones (a frozen, spiced Cosmo variation), Bow Down Bitches (a raspberry egg-white sour with rye whiskey and pink peppercorn), and The Two Fridas (a smoky, stirred cocktail with cacao-infused mezcal and grapefruit).
Describe your paths to opening Butter & Scotch.
Before we opened Butter & Scotch, my business partner Keavy and I each had dessert businesses of our own. She owned Kumquat Cupcakery, which was one of the first vendors at the Brooklyn Flea and specialized in delicious mini cupcakes. I owned First Prize Pies and moonlighted as a bartender to pay my bills. We were friends, and we both hit the same wall at the same time: We needed to grow, and to do that, we needed a brick and mortar, but neither of us wanted to do it alone. We decided to team up, and rather than just open a traditional bakery, we had the idea to create a bar and bakery!