Pairing Menu: French Cuisine and Scotch Whisky

Wilmington, Delaware's Hotel Dupont Le Cavalier chef Tyler Akin. Photo by Dan Heinkel

Pairing Menu: French Cuisine and Scotch Whisky

February 1, 2023 –––––– Brian Freedman, , , ,

Chef Tyler Akin has been a force on the American culinary scene for well over a decade. He won over fans in Philadelphia for his work at both Stock and Res Ipsa, and now, as chef-partner at Le Cavalier in the historic Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, he is reinterpreting the classics of French cooking for a new generation. This menu, he explains, “Explores French cuisine from south to north while looking across the pond to Scotland for some fresh takes on classic cocktails.”

While French food and scotch might not be classic pairing partners, the flavors and textures embodied by both result in a seamless synergy. “Most rules are meant to be broken, and that is certainly the case with the old one that French food can only be eaten with French wine,” Akin adds. “Beverage pairings are meant to make you think! In my mind, this menu immediately transports me to thoughts about how the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers accompany the French philosophers both in chronology and content...letting your mind wander in this way should be fun and provocative. We can find counterpoints and complements between and among many kinds of beverages and cuisines.” To which we say Slàinte Mhath and Santé!

Bartender Sean Brown PHOTOGRAPH BY DAN HEINKEL Bartender Sean Brown. Photo by Dan Heinkel


Scotch Cobbler

  • 3 oz. Sherry cask-aged scotch
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup
  • 1 orange wheel
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 allspice berries

Muddle orange wheel, lemon wheel, simple syrup, and 2 sprigs fresh thyme. Add scotch and transfer to cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake for 45 seconds. Fill Highball glass with ice, then strain cocktail into glass, packing with more crushed ice until it crowns above rim. Garnish with 2 thyme sprigs.

“Starting with a bright and snacky note in the south of France, we pair the French version of hummus with a refreshing Scotch Cobbler,” Akin says, “seeking to reference the icy classic by selecting a 'sherry bomb' scotch in place of Spanish fortified wine.”


Macallan 12 year old Double Cask or Glenrothes 18 year old

“A scotch at the sweeter, richer end of the spectrum of Speyside whiskies will contrast nicely with the brightness of this hors d’oeuvre,” explains Akin. “Think Macallan and Glenrothes.”



Poichichade (Provençal Hummus)

Serves 6 - 8

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and large diced
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and large diced
  • 1 stalk celery, large diced
  • 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • ½ Tbsp. espelette pepper
  • ½ tsp. cayenne
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • ½ cup prepared tahini (thinned with water until smooth)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed Juice of 4 lemons

Very gently, over medium heat, sweat carrot, onion, and celery in olive oil with salt. When fully softened, add garlic and continue to cook for 4 minutes until ingredients are slightly browned. Add spices and bay leaves and cook with the oil and vegetables for 2 minutes.

In a blender, puree room-temperature vegetable stock, prepared tahini, and chickpeas with sweated vegetables and the olive oil they were cooked in. Puree until very smooth. Serve at room temperature, garnishing with crudités, warm flatbread, or pita chips.



Short Rib Beef Bourguignon

Serves 6 - 8

  • 6 8-10 oz. short ribs
  • 3 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 lb. thick-cut pork belly, sliced into lardons
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, medium diced
  • 6 medium carrots, medium diced
  • 8 stalks celery, medium diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 2 Tbsp. Baharat spice
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups red Burgundy wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2½ cups veal demi-glace
  • 16 sprigs thyme
  • 10 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 stems parsley
  • 30 whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup high-fat European butter
  • 2 bunches chives, thinly sliced

Salt short ribs liberally, as though seasoning a steak. In a Dutch oven over high heat, add canola oil and sear the short ribs on all sides until browned, then remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low and render pork belly in the same pan until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove pork belly, discard rendered fat, and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add olive oil to the pan, sweat onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat until almost translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and, when fragrant, add Baharat spice and tomato paste. Cook until tomato paste begins to turn a golden shade of red—about 4 minutes— then dust flour over width of pan and cook for 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pan with Burgundy and reduce by half. Add water, veal demi-glace, and herbs with black peppercorns bundled in closed cheesecloth. Nestle short ribs so they are mostly submerged, and cook over low heat, so that liquid is barely simmering, for about one hour or until fork-tender.

Remove short ribs, strain braising liquid, then return the liquid to the pan to reduce over medium heat until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Add butter and whisk to emulsify. Plate short ribs with rice pilaf, couscous, or pomme puree, pouring reduced sauce over all, then shower with chives.

Tip: If you can’t find Baharat spice, make your own using 2 parts each ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice; and 1 part each black pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika. It’s okay if you’re missing any of the spices, but cinnamon is essential and defines the blend.


Rob Roy

  • 2 oz. blended scotch
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz. dry vermouth
  • 3 dashes Boker's bitters
  • Orange twist for garnish

Stir all ingredients vigorously with ice, then strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

“This takes the mid-century classic steakhouse pairing of steak and [a] Manhattan to Scotland by serving its cousin, the Rob Roy,” Akin notes. “Our version of the classic cocktail uses a Scottish-made, heritage bitter from Boker's, marrying its subtle spice profile with the addition of Baharat spice in Le Cavalier’s beef bourguignon, and reinforcing the bitters’ orange note with a peel of zest instead of the classic maraschino cherry.”


Lagavulin 16 year old

“A highly peaty Islay scotch will help cut through the richness of this dish,” Akin says. “The inherent smokiness of these whiskies can serve to evoke Southern barbecue—perhaps our strongest reference point for [the] beef short rib cut in North America.”



Hot Todde

Serves 1

  • 2 oz. blended scotch
  • ¼ oz. honey
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • ⅓ oz. lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 2 oz. boiling water
  • 1 pod green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Add scotch, honey, simple syrup, and lemon juice to a mug. Toast all spices in a dry pan over medium heat until very fragrant. Set aside cinnamon stick and star anise. Bring water to a boil with toasted cardamom pod and cloves, then strain into the mug. Garnish with the toasted cinnamon stick, star anise, and lemon twist.

“This riff on the Hot Toddy takes the spelling of the Scottish surname, substitutes scotch for Irish whiskey, and leans into the baking spice profile to complement a classic French apple cider cake that throws the doors open to autumn,” Akin explains.


Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Cask

“The Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Cask, with its toffee and baking spice profile, is sure to complement this French farmhouse-inspired cake,” Akin says.



Apple Cider Cake

Courtesy of Leah Ferrara, executive pastry chef, Hotel DuPont

Serves 6 - 8

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh apple cider
  • ½ cup French hard apple cider
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Brown butter frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray.

In mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a second mixing bowl, combine apple cider, hard apple cider, buttermilk, and vanilla.

With electric mixer, paddle together butter and sugars until pale, light, and fluffy—about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beat, scrape side of bowl, and repeat after adding each egg. On low speed, add flour mixture, then apple cider mixture in 1/3 increments, mixing and scraping sides and bottom of bowl in between.

Divide batter evenly between baking pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, allowing to cool 15 minutes in the pans, then invert onto wire racks to cool.

Once cool, level each cake by slicing off any rounded domes with a serrated knife. Top the first layer of cake with 3/4 cup brown-butter frosting, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Place second layer on top and frost. Place the third layer on top and evenly frost top and sides of the three-layer cake. Garnish with nuts, cooked apple slices, and/or shortbread crumbs. Serve at room temperature. Can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Brown Butter Frosting

¾ cup butter 8 oz. cream cheese, softened½ tsp. salt 1 tsp. vanilla extract 4 cups powdered sugar 3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat while stirring until it begins to foam. Continue to stir, cooking the butter until it is lightly browned and develops a nutty aroma. Refrigerate until solid, approximately 20 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat the brown butter until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until well-mixed. Add salt and vanilla, then gradually add powdered sugar, beating on low speed until well-mixed. Add heavy cream in 1/3 increments while continuing to beat. Can be refrigerated or used immediately.