San Francisco: Snapshots from Choke, a Cynar and Artichoke Pop-Up Dinner

[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

For Morgan Schick and Eric Quilty, creating food-and-cocktail pairings was always part of the game plan. Schick (of the Mission's Trick Dog) and Quilty (of East Bay Spice Company) banded together in 2010 to form Jupiter Olympus, a cocktail consulting group. "It's been our goal for the whole time to do something with food," Schick said behind the bar at Kronnerburger on Monday evening.

That concept was realized with Choke, an artichoke-themed dinner hosted by Cynar and featuring food from Chris Kronner of Kronnerburger and Kevin Cimino of St. Vincent. The four-course dinner was $30 per person, and all proceeds went to the People's Grocery in Berkeley. Quilty and Schick worked closely together to develop 5 cocktails to pair with the food that they felt showcased the bittersweet complexity of the artichoke-flavored amaro.

Quilty and Schick, hard at work.

Quilty and Schick hard at work

"Cynar really lends itself to food pairings," Schick mentioned. "You don't want to pair food with very high-proof cocktails; it destroys your palate. But Cynar has that depth without too much alcohol."

The artichoke side of Cynar provided inspiration in the kitchen, too—all of the evening's dishes included the California favorite, including dessert.

From a salad 'dressing' cocktail laced with Champagne vinegar and fennel to a dessert digestif 'tea' made in a French press, there was no shortage of creativity in the cocktails from Jupiter Olympus. "Morgan and I will go out for lunch and it'll usually take, oh, half a beer, before we start coming up with ideas," Quilty said of their partnership. "The great thing about us is, we never say no to each other."

Take a peek at the slideshow to see all of the evening's artichoke-inspired pairings »