Sure, most pastries pair beautifully with coffee, but why stop there? Whether you baked a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, saved half a cinnamon roll from your work session at the coffee shop, or stopped by your local patisserie for a croissant to go, you deserve a nice glass of something for your trouble. Better yet, a simple pastry spread feels like a proper brunch when a thoughtful beverage pairing is (literally and figuratively) on the table.
From alpine whites and malty stouts that make butter taste even more buttery, to the sweet, fortified finds that sing with chocolate, we’ve hand-picked the best drinks to enjoy with the treat of your choice. Read on for the wine and beer pastry pairings you shouldn’t miss.
You may be surprised to see that our suggested pairing for croissants is not a French wine. But croissants are technically a descendent of an Austrian pastry, which means Eastern Europe is the perfect place to find its match. Croissants, with their flaky texture and buttery, grain-focused flavor make a lovely pairing for Czech pilsners. They famously have prominent flavors of malt and bread, which will amp up the wheat flavors in a croissant, and their extra kick of hoppy bitterness provides contrast to its buttery richness. And, the bit of carbonation in the beer provides extra lightness to the croissant’s texture.
Chocolate chip cookies are the little black dress, the George Clooney, the 72-degree day of pastries: They’re hard to beat, and nearly impossible to tire of. With this staple pastry, in all its forms, we recommend Madeira, particularly Boal. This sweet, fragrant expression of the fortified wine has notes of salted caramel, fig, and baking spices, with a bright core of acidity that prevents the sweetness from becoming cloying. This acid will set off any fruity flavors in the chocolate, and the caramel notes will round out the buttery notes of the cookie.
Blueberry muffins can be a risky order at a new bakery or coffee shop: Though they can be dry and lacking in flavor even remotely in the berry realm, the good ones contrast a rich buttery batter with tart little berry gems in a way that makes the risk worth it. A glass of pink, bubbly Bugey Cerdon from France’s Savoie region, with its notes of powder-sugar-dusted wild strawberries and hints of rose petals, will flesh out the blueberries’ flavor and the bubbles will make the muffin’s texture feel lighter and more ethereal.
If you already drink hefeweizen, you likely already know and love its signature note of banana bread, generally complemented by hints of allspice, clove, or ripe pear. But if you don’t, prepare to meet the ideal match for this breakfast staple. Not only do they both bring big banana energy to the table, but they make sense on a textural level too: The slight, fluffy carbonation of the beer helps lighten up this slightly denser pastry.
The fun thing about a ham-and-cheese croissant pairing (aside from the already-fun opportunity to eat a ham-and-cheese croissant) is that, given the salty savory character of the star ingredients, you have a wide range of complementary options. Our pick: Grüner Veltliner. With its vivid acidity and notes of lime zest and white pepper, it’ll kick up the salty, savory character of the bake several notches. All the better if Gruyère happens to be the cheese inside, or if the ham is cured, as the brightness of Grüner will amplify the rich, brothy character of both.
Though the world of Mexican pan dulce is broad, perhaps the most iconic member of this family is the concha, an enriched dough in a roll shape, with a crunchy sugary cookie “shell” (or concha, in Spanish) topping. Though the dough is typically unflavored, the shell can come in a range of flavors, colors, and patterns. To bring out the caramelization of the topping and the rich flavors of the dough, pair a concha with a glass of fino sherry, and its notes of hazelnut and almond. Fino, among the dryer styles of sherry, will help balance the sweetness.
If you’re looking for a filling, uber-comforting pair, look no further. A rich, pillowy cinnamon roll will find balance in the dark-roasted malt character of stout and its hint of hoppy bitterness. Stouts are famed for their velvety mouthfeel, which will make the cinnamon roll feel extra smooth and dessert-y. The kiss of cinnamon in the filling will also find extra dimension thanks to the notes of caramel in the malt.
Originally from Brittany, the Kouign-Amann is famed both for being difficult to make and for being emblematic of the magic of caramelization. Sweet, salty, light, and rich, their almost honeyed flavor reaches new heights when paired with the similarly honeyed, golden flavor of late-harvest Tokaji. Though both are sweet and rich, the spiced acidity and ginger-grapefruit notes of the fortified wine and the saltiness of the Kouign-Amann prevent the pair from becoming cloying.