Tiffani Faison Shares Her Favorite Booze, BBQ Pairings from Sweet Cheeks

The time is finally here, people: Sweet Cheeks, chef Tiffani Faison’s hotly anticipated BBQ joint, will be opening to the public tomorrow evening. And while you’ve doubtless been reading up on the extensive roster of smoked meats — coming out of a massive smoker named ‘Tootsie’ — and the gorgeous wood-paneled and Americana-clad décor, I’d like to steer you in another direction: the booze. I stopped by Sweet Cheeks last night to chat with Faison about the beverage list (developed in collaboration with General Manager Ian Grossman, formerly of Russell House Tavern).

Save for a couple shots of tequila (which you can find in a 24-oz Bud Light Lime michelada “jug”), the drink list is all-American. “I know it sounds cheesy, but in a time in our country where we talk about how we don’t make anything anymore and don’t manufacture anything, as a business owner and someone who really believes in the American craft it became: ‘How do we support the people in America that make really wonderful things?’” Faison says.

Below, Faison explains three of her favorite drinks on the menu—save for Bud Light Lime, her go-to bev of choice—and the food that best pairs with them:

1. Rocky Top cocktail (Old Smokey apple moonshine, Carriage House apple brandy, Vya sweet vermouth, $10) + Pulled Pork Tray (pictured here with carrot and raisin salad, coleslaw, house pickles, $18)

“We wanted something that had a little bitterness to it, that had a higher alcohol content to it that could cut through that fatty pork belly,” Faison says. “If you are cleansing your palate with that nice whiskey and bitter mix than you can move right through the pork belly.” A note about that pork belly: notice the absence of jiggly, off-putting fat that can often accompany the rich cut of pig. It’s the result of a three-step cooking process that consists of curing, brining and then smoking the belly. “It’s three different cooking processes that concentrates the fat of the meat,” Faison says.


2. Lone Star beer ($5/bottle) + Pulled Pork Sandwich (on a griddled bulkie roll with coleslaw, house pickles, $10)

“Pulled pork obviously has a really rich flavor to it, and it’s cut with a little North Carolina-style vinegar sauce. And there’s some coleslaw on that. It has some origins in the Carolinas, but it is definitely a Texas hero,” Faison says. ” And Lone Star, everyone drinks Lone Star in Texas. For a ‘shitty’ beer, it has a lot of really clean, great flavor to it that goes along with the vinegars, and the sugars and the smokiness of the pork.”


3. Giant Nutter Butter (filled with peanut butter mousse, $6) + Ole’ Smokey Apple Moonshine ($7)

Despite what you may think, the moonshine here (which is sourced from Tennessee) is a smooth sipper. Moonshine I think of as in the category of ‘I would never want to drink this thing,’ and then apple-cinnamon is usually gross and oddly flavored in a fakey way. These two had a baby, and it’s neither of those things,” Faison says. “It’s this amazing, really smooth moonshine with a crispy, pointed apple cinnamon flavor that is not fake and doesn’t feel fake at all. And then the nutter butter has a really great, rich mousse in the middle. It’s a really classic nutter butter cookie that has some nice chew to it, and a nice amount of salt. That’s easy — the apple plays off of the peanut butter.” (Sweet Cheeks, 1381 Boylston St., Fenway. Mon-Sat, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., drinks until 2 a.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Info: 617-266-1300, sweetcheeksq.com.)

For more online food coverage, follow us on Twitter @ChowderBoston.