The beauty of a wine or cocktail flight is simple: why choose one drink when you can sample smaller servings of several? Not to mention, when unique flights and foods are paired together, it can take your experience to the next level. Here are five flights and food pairings at Nashville restaurants that will delight your tastebuds.
Mezcal and Marrow at Butchertown Hall
1416 4th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37208 • (615) 454-3634
Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
It seems there’s quite a bit of myth surrounding mezcal. A common misconception, for example, is that it falls into the tequila category. In reality, it’s the other way around; tequila is a mezcal. Made from the agave plant after it has matured for seven to 25 years, it’s a distilled spirit originating in Mexico, and its history is rich. Multigenerational makers in small villages harvest the branches to get to the heart of the plant, then roast it in an underground pit to release the sugars. After that, they distill the liquid in clay pots or old stainless steel. All of those factors contribute to the unique, smoky flavor profile, which pairs perfectly with either bright, citrusy foods such as guacamole, salsa and even ceviche, or rich, oily foods such as brisket or steak. And that’s precisely what you find on the Butchertown Hall menu.
“In my opinion, overly sweet things or dry-rub spiced things can sort of shock your palate out of really getting the full flavor of the mezcal,” says Butchertown’s beer program curator, Daniel King. He has helped create five different mezcal flights for the restaurant’s menu, ranging from small batch to even smaller batch options. “We serve it with oranges or tomatoes to give that acidic bite with a touch of natural sweetness, but otherwise, we don’t lock our food recommendations into anything too specific,” he says, explaining most things on the Butchertown Hall menu complement mezcal well. Surprisingly, his top recommendation is bone marrow. “We love serving mezcal alongside our bone marrow,” he tells us. “Often, we can even convince people to do a luge with the bone after they’ve eaten all the marrow out of it so that they can get that last bit of oily juice. No one ever regrets it!”
Mimosas and Donuts at The Donut + Dog
2127 Belcourt Ave., Nashville, TN 37212 • (615) 457-1476
Temporary hours: Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As if brioche donuts aren’t decadent enough on their own, the mimosa flight from The Donut + Dog is the perfect addition to your breakfast — or anytime. Updated seasonally, the flavorful champagne trio adds just enough acidity to offset the richness of The Donut + Dog’s heavenly baked goods. “We take a very yin and yang approach with flavor,” says William Primavera, who co-founded the restaurant with his wife, Nicole. “The great thing about champagne when you pair it with donuts, especially brioche, is that it has so much bubble and acidity to it that it actually cuts through the brioche and flavor and then adds to it.” With an extensive background in alcohol, William would know. He’s actually a level two sommelier, certified in sake and spirits, and his hospitality company is opening several restaurants throughout the country, including a burger-driven concept here in Nashville and a completely different concept in Hawaii.
If you’re curious which donuts best accompany the current mimosa flight — mango, strawberry, and watermelon — the answer is: you really can’t go wrong with any of them. With that said, William says two of the most popular options are the Southern Belle, a peach jam-filled donut topped with a brown butter glaze and pecan brittle, and their house staple, the O.G., which has a bourbon vanilla bean glaze topped with housemade cabernet salt. Another of William’s recommendations is the South Beach, which he refers to as a deconstructed raspberry mojito. “It has a flash-fried mint garnish and a four-year aged Flor de Cana rum pipette that you can actually squeeze into the donut,” he tells us.
For the fall, we can look forward to even more depth of flavor as The Donut + Dog rolls out the colorful new seasonal mimosa flight. Get ready for hibiscus, blood orange, and possibly even key lime.
Whiskey and Salty Snacks at Sinema
2600 8th Ave. S., Suite 102, Nashville, TN 37204 • (615) 942-7746
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Monday
The beverage team at Sinema sets the bar high with a cocktail menu that offers five high-end whiskey flights ranging from $15 to $125. Each one features three pours, so you’ve got plenty of options depending on how discerning your palate happens to be. Their in-house selection of approximately 200 whiskeys means you can most assuredly find one to tempt your taste buds, whether you’re ordering a full flight or sticking with a single pour. But if flights are more your fancy, we’ve got some recommendations.
If you’re looking to support our local artisans, the Belle Meade Cask Flight consists of three bourbons finished in special casks, from Nashville distiller Nelson’s Green Brier. The result is carefully crafted bourbons infused with cognac, Madeira and sherry, respectively. If you’re interested in experiencing a more rare whiskey flight, the “Best of the Best Flight” is the route to go, which features WhistlePig Boss Hog, Pappy Van Winkle 15, and Macallan Rare Cask.
Sinema’s starters are designed to accompany their whiskey flights, with the charcuterie board topping our list of favorite bourbon-friendly nibbles. The wonderfully salty nature of Italian meats like prosciutto and spicy soppressata lends the perfect balance to the whiskey notes, and the housemade sourdough is delightful. You also can’t go wrong with the house-spiced nuts, which offer the perfect little snack if you’re looking to maintain your appetite for dinner.
Sake and Spicy Dishes at Sunda
592 12th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 610-7566
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Monday
Nothing pairs better with Japanese cuisine than sake. (And perhaps a solid Japanese beer like Sapporo, but for now, we’ll concentrate on sake.) Fortunately, the Gulch’s Sunda delivers the goods with its Tyku sake flight. Even better, we have an opportunity to pair it with spicy Pan-Asian dishes — a match made in heaven. The first flight member, Junmai Ginjo, is a smooth, complex pour that goes perfectly with simple sashimi such as Hamachi with jalapeño, bringing in that touch of heat to complement the rich rice wine. The second pour is a crisper, cleaner, cucumber-infused sake, perfectly pairing with tiger shrimp tempura or the crispy Brussels sprouts salad. Lastly, the flight’s unfiltered sake option, Nigori, puts its sweet, creamy profile up against menu items like the Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice. Even if you’re a sake first-timer, the combinations are too good to pass up!
Absinthe and Truffles at Green Hour Cocktail and Absinthe Lounge
1201 5th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37208 • (615) 454-5432
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; closed Sunday through Wednesday
It’s a chocolate shop. No, it’s an absinthe bar. No, it’s both! Germantown’s Tempered Café serves chocolates by day and moonlights as the Green Hour Cocktail and Absinthe Lounge pop-up by night. Even better, the two merge to offer a delightful combination of an absinthe flight paired with truffles. “Chocolate and spirits go great together, but especially our handmade truffles along with the flavor of absinthe,” says owner Angelica Clark. “Our flight consists of your choice of three absinthes, custom paired with chocolate truffles by our tasting professionals.”
For some, the idea of absinthe conjures up thoughts of painter Van Gogh and his legendary addiction. “It’s an extremely unique spirit with somewhat of a polarizing stigma here in the U.S.,” says Angelica. “It was illegal here for most of the 20th century, stemming from a smear campaign by competitor industries. It was based on counterfeit absinthes causing hallucinations from heavy metal poisoning, among other things.” However, despite its early 20th-century ban, the green spirit has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years and became legal in 2007.
At the Green Hour, they serve absinthe using the traditional French and Swiss method. The absinthe selection ranges from light and airy to intense and full-bodied, and each pour is slowly “louched” with ice water and a sugar cube to release the essential oils. While the licorice-like taste may not make a fan out of everyone, Angelica touts its complexity and asks that we give it a shot. Literally. “It’s not the typical stark licorice flavor you would find in candy,” she offers. “Instead, it’s combined with wonderful botanicals and essences, which create a fantastic experience.”
We hope we’ve inspired you to try a food and flight combo that delights!
If you’re looking to create your own at-home flight, get some inspiration from our cocktail recipes.