On The Town

Bottle Battle at B&O

Wine and cocktails go head-to-head at this pairing dinner.

By Jess Mayhugh | May 02, 2011, 2:00 pm

First course: Rockfish with Pinot Gris and Gin Fizz
On The Town

Bottle Battle at B&O

Wine and cocktails go head-to-head at this pairing dinner.

By Jess Mayhugh | May 02, 2011, 2:00 pm


First course: Rockfish with Pinot Gris and Gin Fizz


On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending an event called Bottle Battle at B&O American Brasserie. The concept of the event was really creative and fun: we were served dishes created by B&O chef Thomas Dunklin and, with each dish, we were served a corresponding cocktail (created by B&O's Brendan Dorr) and a wine (selected by Kimpton Hotels' Emily Wines—yes, that is her real last name). It was up to us, as the attendees, to vote for which drink paired best with each dish.

While the concept is simple enough, the actual decision-making wasn't so much, as all the drinks paired ridiculously well with the dishes. Our first course was a Maryland rockfish, pictured, served with bacalao, spring onion, and tomato jam. Wines selected an Etude pinot gris and Dorr made a cilantro gin fizz (Plymouth gin, cilantro syrup, lime, orange flower water, soda, and egg white).The pinot was a perfect pairing with the rockfish, accentuating the dish's flavor. The cocktail was also a refreshing complement, but seemed to mask the food's flavor altogether.

The second dish was a little more experimental (at least for me): cured rabbit, tasso loin, mustard rillete, liver mousse, and spicy head cheese. While I wasn't a huge fan of everything on my plate—I don't think my palette is refined enough—I did appreciate the pairings of Route 99 pinot noir and Dorr's agave apricot drink (Cazadores Reposado tequila, Velvet Falernum, Domaine Canton, apricot syrup, lemon juice, and orange bitters). Here, I chose the cocktail. While the zesty pinot noir went well with the rabbit, the spicy agave apricot complemented the rest of the flavors, especially the mustard.

For our third and final course, we were served a rack of lamb, braised lamb belly, split pea stew, and goat cheese gnocchi. Now, I am no food expert (I leave that to Suzanne), but this was an amazing dish. The lamb was cooked perfectly (and barely) and the goat cheese gnocchi were flawless melt-in-your-mouth pillows.

To accompany this amazing dish was a Kunin "Pape Star," an earthy red, and a rye cardizian cocktail (Rittenhouse rye, Byass Solera sherry, lillet, Peychauds bitters, and Fee Bros. orange bitters). This one was a bit of a draw for me. Lamb goes so classically well with red wine and whiskey. The Kunin wine had smoky, peppery notes, which worked extremely well with the dish. The cocktail had a bold, musty flavor with a bit of sweetness that stood up well against the lamb.

In the end, the wine won over the cocktails by a narrow margin. The outcome was to be expected, as wine has always been an ideal match for food. But Dorr showed that cocktails shouldn't be counted out either. The excellent execution aside, it struck me that the entire format is a great idea for an event—whether it be a casual party or a charity gala. Of course the most difficult part would be wrangling up experts, like those on-hand at the B&O.


Meet The Author
Jess Mayhugh is the digital editor for Baltimore, where she covers nightlife, sports, food, and events.

You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Annabel Lee Tavern Closing its Doors This Weekend

Owner shares memories of his beloved tribute to Edgar Allan Poe.

Food & Drink

Sip Tips: May 2017

Celebrate the season of dirt under the fingernails with these organically grown libations.

Food & Drink

Lawn Party

Whether it’s an extra-long lunch break or start of the weekend, enjoy a picnic with these Maryland-made treats.

Food & Drink

You Are Here

Scenes from the Bel-Loc Diner and UnPub 7 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Food & Drink

Holding Court

Asian Court gets a new address in Ellicott City.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Editor's Corner: May 2017
Managing editor Max Weiss previews the the Outdoors issue of Baltimore magazine.

Fixer Upper
We’ve devised a wish list of some realistic (and some unrealistic) improvements to Pimlico Race Course.

What Morgan Means to Me
As Morgan State celebrates its 150th anniversary, five noteworthy alumni recall their college years.

The Baltimore Area's Best Swimming Holes
Take a dip and cool off at these local swimming spots.

Sip Tips: May 2017
Celebrate the season of dirt under the fingernails with these organically grown libations.