Dana Yi / Sweet Revenge
We're always looking for great food and drink pairings here at 1st Look. Mario Batali likes Friulano and Oysters. Jane Lynch likes decaf espresso and rosemary pine nut cookies. Wine and seafood, coffee and sweets--these pairings are pretty standard. But, what about booze and cupcakes? Have we caught your attention yet? That's the concept of West Village dessert spot Sweet Revenge, founded by Marlo Scott. Appropriately named, Marlo was a fed-up employee at a major corporation who left the industry to start her cupcake, beer and wine bar after being laid off in 2007, the catalyst for bringing her "big dream to life." This "sweet revenge" is sweet indeed. We talked to Marlo about her ingenious pairings, her favorite desserts and what other sweet creations she has up her sleeve.
We think you have an incredible story of how you started Sweet Revenge. What was your breaking point when you decided to leave the corporate world and start your own cupcake, beer and wine bar?
My breaking point was more like a breaking path. I was passed over for a promotion in summer 2005, which provided the impetus for the concept. I began writing a business plan and taking business classes related to the restaurant industry. In the beginning of 2007, I was laid off. Impetus + a business plan + being unemployed = right time to finally bring the big dream to life.
It's such a great concept--tell us why you decided to focus on drink and cupcake pairings?
I opened in summer 2008 without the pairings menu, but I was constantly suggesting a specific wine or beer from around the world with a particular cupcake to my patrons. They thought I was bonkers and for the most part asked for milk or coffee. Every once in a while a patron would walk on the wild side and try my recommendation. They'd have their "a-ha" moment and tell me I was genius. I was frustrated I wasn't able to convince more patrons to try my recommendations, so I wrote down all my ideas and put out the pairings menu. From that moment on, patrons ordered wines and beers with my cupcakes. Hallelujah! Focusing on the cupcake, beer & wine pairings menu and positioning my establishment as a cupcake, beer & wine bar makes my establishment unique.
You have some awesome flavors, both savory and sweet. What are the more unique cupcakes you offer?
Well, naturally, I think all my cupcakes are unique with the rustic parchment paper liners and edgy mohawk motif! We have a world-inspired menu and I'd say the top three most unique flavors are: Casablanca (Pistachio Cardamom Cake and Rosewater Buttercream), Bird of Paradise (Lime Chiffon Cake with Mango Buttercream and Fresh Lime Zest) and Ma Cherie (Black Velvet Cake, Cherry Jam Center and Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate Ganache).
What are some of your personal favorite pairings?
I'm a sucker for the Crimson & Cream (raspberry red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, raspberry drizzle, cinnamon dusting) with the Belhaven beer from Scotland. The Very Strawberry (Mexican vanilla cake with strawberries and strawberry cream cheese frosting) with the Lunetta prosecco from Italy is also fantastic. I'm also a big fan of the German Colada (Valrhona Chocolate Cake, Caramelized Pecan & Shredded Coconut Filling, Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting) with Young's Double Chocolate Stout from England. It's like choosing a favorite child. You know you're not supposed to, but you tell each of them they're the favorite when you're with them. If my brother Matt is reading this… newsflash, I am mom and dad's favorite.
How is the cupcake creation process? How adventurous do you get with your ideas?
It's a very collaborative process, and I involve my front of house staff as well as the chefs. Sometimes a new cupcake is opportunistic, other times seasonal, sometimes one of us just gets a hankerin' for a particular flavor. We make small batches, taste-testing them and critiquing them until I love it. Once the new cupcake recipe is finalized, I then involve the team in the pairings process. We take little nibbles of the cupcake and then do small sips of the wines and beers until we find the perfect pairings. It's a really tough day at the office when I'm making the staff do this with me!
Any cupcakes you're working on now that you can tell us about?
We just debuted our all-new breakfast menu last week, so our efforts have been very focused on its execution. Although we're not working on a new cupcake flavor, we are working on mini pies (individual sized) that will debut next week with flavors including Fleur de Sel (salted caramel pecan pie), Pumpkin Crumble (pumpkin pie with brown sugar and walnut crumble) and Spiced Apple Streusel (Granny Smith apples, Mexican Vanilla and Ginger, topped with sugar butter streusel).
What's the most unique or indulgent dessert you've ever eaten?
My great aunt Martha who is turning 89 big ones this month gets credit for making the world's greatest and most indulgent cheese cakes and cherry pies. She's a legend in my family. I've gotta get her recipes. Note to self, when I go home for turkey day!
What are some of your favorite dessert spots in NYC?
I love the Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes at 10 Downing, the Tangy Goat Milk frozen yogurt at Victory Garden, and all of the pastries and the Toasted Coconut tea at Bosie Tea Parlor. I never need to leave the West Village for fantastic food and dessert. I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse!
62 Carmine St.
New York, NY 10014