It’s all in the name – CRAVE

“Welcome to Crave, would you like a glass of Veuve Clicquot?”

With that opening line, we were ushered into Crave, a new dessert bar & lounge located at the corner of 14th and Champa, in the Spire building.  I mentally pinched myself, giggling inside at the thought sipping on premium champagne as I skipped up to the bar for a glass of bubbly.

Looking around, observing the cozy yet elegant ambiance, I realized it’s all in the name – CRAVE. And wow, do they live up to their claim to satisfy your cravings morning, noon and night. I know what you may be thinking – “oh yay! another pretentious, oft (poorly) duplicated concept from NYC.” Fear not, my fellow booze hounds. Crave delivers not only on the desserts and coffee, but on the adult libations as well.

Crave officially opened yesterday (Monday, December 5), but we received a little preview last week. Where to begin? The fabulous cocktails such as the Chocolate Kiss? Or perhaps the to-die-for desserts, such as the 20 Layer Cake? Or the divine Novo espresso (that kept me up watching Law & Order reruns in the middle of the night)? Well, this is a booze blog, so let’s start there. We sampled three of the seven craft cocktails on their menu.

First up, the Apples to Apples – a beautiful symphony of Plymouth Gin, VeeV, Muddled Apple, Apple Cider, and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram served over ice in a Collins glass. I was pleasantly surprised that this cocktail allowed the true apple taste to shine through and thankful it lacked the cloying sweetness sometimes found in fruity cocktails. It could easily be paired with a dessert of your choice without your palate screaming for relief from a saccharinity overdose.

Next, the Chocolate Kisses – Old Overholt Rye, Chocolate Balsamic, Raspberries, and Agave served on the rocks in a double old fashioned glass. With Old Overholt as the base spirit, you really can’t go wrong in our book, but what sets this cocktail apart is the unexpected pairing with the chocolate balsamic syrup. It adds notes of chocolate and some sweetness, but also some acidity, again yielding a cocktail that would pair well with a dessert.

Finally, the Dessert in a Glass – Absolut Vanilla, White Chocolate-Cinnamon Syrup, Espresso, Cinnamon-Infused Whipped Cream, served up in a martini glass. This cocktail is well named – beware of a sugar coma if paired with a dessert (but who doesn’t love to live on the edge?). While I generally abhor vanilla vodka (see bio below), if anyone could create a desirable cocktail with it, our own Brian Melton could. And he did not disappoint – in this application, the vanilla of the vodka serves blends well with the white chocolate, cinnamon and espresso. All flavors you could find in a delicious dessert, all boozed up – quite clever perfection.

Now, if you’re still reading and not headed towards Crave at this moment, we’ll give a little homage to the other parts of the menu that ensure all of your sense are tantalized: the desserts and the coffee.  The desserts are crafted with as much care and art as the cocktails. The 20 Layer Chocolate Cake is a divine combination of chocolate and peanut butter – one bite and all I could say was “Oh. My. God.” The Vanilla Dusted Donuts with Pomegranate Compote are served in a glass fishbowl for two – both playful and delectable. The White Chocolate Candy Cane ice cream was like Christmas in a bowl and will make you ask “Ben and who?”  But don’t forget to take advantage of the properly-stocked bar and end your night with Fernet, an Amaro flight, or whatever digestif you prefer to follow your dessert (trust us, you’ll be thankful the next morning).

And the coffee – I’d almost forgotten what real coffee tastes like (as in “burnt” does not count as a “flavor” – Starbucks, I’m looking at you). As the barista described my shot of espresso, he did it with as much detail as a sommelier or spirit enthusiast: “A three-bean blend, including one from Ecuador, that renders a delicate balance of sweetness and bright acidity, with a buttery aftertaste that lingers on the palate.”

But all of this would fall flat if it weren’t for the spectacular team that has been assembled. Warm, welcoming and passionate, they’ll ask your name, remember it, and deliver a helping side of hospitality along with your order. Seek out Ami and Topher for your coffee, Adam, Chris and Jonathan for your cocktails, and bow down to the pastry goddess, Jessica.

Crave is open Mon-Thu, 6:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 6:30am-12pm; Sun, 6:30am-10pm.

About Jennifer Fowler

She drinks nothing but the finest of craft spirits. So think twice before you slide that cocktail glass filled with vanilla vodka in front of her. This lady likes her cocktails brown, bitter, and stirred.