The Pairing in the East Crossroads is kind of like walking into a marvelous hybrid between an old world wine cellar and a corner grocery store. As I take in the massive 3,000-square-foot space—complete with exposed brick and rustic wooden shelves stocked with a seemingly endless supply of wine to your right and a row of 15 coolers with craft beer and ciders to your left—I realize I’ve found my happy place.
The Pairing, 1615 Oak St., is not your average liquor store. Sure, you can pick up a six-pack of Boulevard Wheat or a bottle of sauvignon blanc, but at the back of the space, you’ll find the store’s co-owners, Mat “Slimm” Adkins and Jeff Jones, behind the gorgeous bar made of reclaimed wood ready to serve you.
The Pairing’s bar, which comfortably seats 30 people, is adorned with vintage marquee letters: WINE BAR. I notice unique original artwork throughout the store, which Adkins proudly tells me is the work of his late uncle, Clifford Dale Smith. These whimsical and colorful pieces add a personal touch to The Pairing—almost as if you’re having happy hour at a friend’s place—and it fits in perfectly with the Crossroads Arts District’s vibe.
Hayley Hyer and I order wine flights. Today, it consisted of Milan Nestarec Youngster 2018 rosé from the Czech Republic, Anciano Reserva 5 Years Tempranillo 2013 from Spain, Castellucio Le More Sangiovese 2018 from Italy and Clos des Fous Grillos Cantores Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 from Chile. It’s a beautiful representation of the variety of the world’s wines. The rosé has a deeper berry color than your typical blush rosés. The tempranillo is an earthy and bold Spanish wine. The sangiovese is a dry Italian red that would go perfectly with a heaping bowl of pasta. And the cabernet is a smoky, full-bodied red to round out the wine flight.
Cheese + Charcuterie
We order the cheese board featuring drunken Spanish goat cheese, Cottonwood River cheddar, mustard seed gouda from Holland and an assortment of stone-ground mustard, jams, caper berries, nuts and grapes—fantastic! The mustard seed gouda was a real treat that complemented the red wines in the flight. The cheeses and accoutrements vary depending on the store’s availability.
Next, we sample the vegan charcuterie board. That’s right; all the “meats” and cheeses are 100% plant-based! Many of these items are sourced from The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis. This artful spread has dill havarti, roasted turkey, capicola, brie, pepperoni, prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, Helga’s roasted garlic mustard (Lenexa) and Fair Share Farm garlic pickles (Kearney, Mo.).
“The last time I ate meat was when I was 15 years old, so I don’t have a super strong memory of what it tastes and feels like. But when I tried the vegan pepperoni, it took me right back to childhood memories of pepperoni pizza at a birthday party. What a great flavor!”
“The vegan brie was hands-down my favorite thing on the board. I couldn’t believe the creamy texture they achieved with it. Some vegans don’t eat honey, but since I’m just a vegetarian, I accepted some, and it was so delicious.” –Hayley Hyer
Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer
The Pairing also carries an impressive selection of local spirits from Tom’s Town Distilling Co., J. Rieger & Co., Lifted Spirits and Mean Mule Distilling Co. They also carry national and international labels—think quality over quantity here. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon Whiskey and W.L. Weller Antique 107 are just a few of these top-notch bottles available while supplies last.
If booze isn’t your bag, The Pairing has Parisi cold brew and shandy (half coffee and half lemonade) plus two flavors of local kombucha from Lucky Elixir. Adkins even concocted a lovely mocktail inspired by the Blueberry Roséde—rosé with blueberry shrub and lemonade—sans rosé for Hayley plus club soda and cranberry juice.
Due to licensing restrictions, The Pairing is unable to serve beer or spirits at the bar. However, they will open any bottle of wine in store for a $10 corking fee if you commit to drinking at least two glasses.
If you’d rather take the party home, The Pairing has everything you need to create an impressive charcuterie spread for your next gathering. Start with a handmade charcuterie board by Hoodrat Woodworks, then browse the various meats and cheeses—both plant-based and traditional—in the coolers. The Pairing focuses on many local farmers and purveyors, including Kansas City Canning Co. jams and pickles, Mo’s World’s Greatest Hummus and baba ghanoush, and salsa from Sweet Kickin Salsa.
Grand Opening Feb. 7
The Pairing officially opened its doors on Dec. 1, but Feb. 7 is the store’s grand opening party. The shelves are stocked—with room left for more local purveyors to sell its products, Adkins says—and Johnny Hamel will be providing tunes with his upright bass. Limited-release whiskey will be available for purchase, and a total of $500 in gift cards will be given away. The fun starts at 5 p.m.
Follow The Pairing: Crossroads Wine & Grocer @thepairingkc