Washington Humane Society’s Sugar & Champagne Affair

Editorial Credit: Caroline Coppel

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, despite all other differences, people find both puppies and desserts to be Good Things. Put them together, and you’ve got the Washington Humane Society’s 11th annual Sugar & Champagne Affair, which was held Feb. 1 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

More than 50 D.C.-area bars and restaurants brought their finest sweets to the sold-out event, which benefitted WHS’ services and honored its educators, community volunteers and Law Enforcement and Animal Control officers. Some dishes included staple sweet flavors, like Founding Farmers’ peanut butter pie with caramel corn or The Daily Dish’s mango mousse. Others, like PS 7’s pork sticky buns or Cookology Recreational Culinary School’s cayenne pepper truffles, had more unexpected ingredients. There were some savory dishes, like pizza and wings from Fuel and a tasty tuna tartare from Matchbox, but if you didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, you were out of luck.

The standout dessert from a creative standpoint was Jason Reaves’ cake, which featured a practically life-sized (and edible) dog and cat. The Market Salamander pastry chef said he’d been making desserts for the event for the past seven years, but only recently decided to take this approach. Last year, he said, he created a life-sized German shepherd cake.

Gourmet cocktails and, of course, champagne were in abundance as well. Notably, guests got to sample something called Sage Advice Punch, which is made with Veev Acai spirit, and the Little O, PX’s drink made from blood oranges, tumeric, Cirrus vodka and fire.

Guests were encouraged to bring their dogs, and they happily obliged. Pugs, dachshunds, labs, retrievers, poodles, Bernese mountain dogs, greyhounds – at one point, canines arguably outnumbered humans. They had been dressed in their finest as well – there were dogs in hats, tutus, sweaters and ties. One poodle was even tie-dyed. Each vendor had a generous supply of dog treats, and some, such as Alexandria’s Barkley Square Bakery, catered solely to the four-legged attendees.

At the event’s awards ceremony, hosts Todd and Ellen Gray said that they expected to raise $80,000 this year, and that the benefit had raised $350,000 over the last 11 years. The couple, who owns three prominent D.C. restaurants, said the first Sugar & Champagne featured 12 chefs and 50 people. Clearly, it’s grown quite a bit since then, and next year’s event will definitely be something not to miss.

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