Drinks Pairing At The Catbird Seat In Nashville

Jane Lopes breaks the drinking rules

We'll be honest: We balk at the idea of tasting menus with cocktail pairings.

Leave it to a groundbreaking new restaurant in Nashville to change our minds.

We sat down to a recent meal at The Catbird Seat and opted for what we thought was a wine pairing to accompany our 10-course dinner. We weren't surprised when our first pairing arrived: Beverage director Jane Lopes filled flutes with Champagne. Then she added a small dose of Aperol.

As the meal progressed, she continued to doctor the wine pours. A rich Nero d'Avola came with a small carafe of lambic beer. "Add this a little bit at a time," she told us. At one point, she rinsed glasses with Four Roses bourbon, then filled them with Hungarian Tokai; later, to accompany a Vietnamese-inspired dish, she handed us tumblers of Doppelbock spiked with Koval coffee liqueur (see the recipe). She explained: "It combines the two classic pairings for Vietnamese food: iced coffee and beer."

Lopes came to Nashville from Chicago, where she worked at The Violet Hour, as well as managing a boutique wine and beer shop.

Some guests are frustrated by her cheeky, genre-bending approach: "Serious wine guys get really angry," she admits. We would agree–except that each pairing so deliciously complemented its accompanying dish.

Never say never.