Gourmet cupcakes tend to cater to those who can afford to pay anywhere from $3.50 to $5 for a small cake that might go for 50 cents at a bake sale. They are a trend like frozen yogurt, food trucks and perhaps even yoga, that has caught on quickly and, because of the demand, are not only successful but are pricey. Crunkcakes has something no other cupcake in the District has: Alcohol.
Crunkcakes does not have a store front or a gaggle of trained employees to sell you their product. There are only two women, Faith Alice Sleeper and Raychel Sabath, who bake the cupcakes that are sold throughout bars and festivals. Sleeper has three jobs – running Crunkcakes, working at Rock n Roll Hotel and Dangerously Delicious Pies on H St. NE. Sabath works in booking at Rock n Roll Hotel. Sleeper says her mother baked a lot when she was a child, and she put her own twist on what she learned at a holiday party in 2009.
Some cupcakes, like the Buttery Nipple, Grasshopper and Irish Carbomb, are based off of actual alcoholic drinks, but others are made from experimenting with different pairings. For example, the Fat Elvis is banana cake infused with banana rum and peanut butter Frangelico butter-cream.
Both in their 20s, Sleeper and Sabath say they know there is ample competition for cupcakes in the District, but because both are so busy at other jobs, they don’t really take notice.
“I’m so busy balancing work and trying to start a business that it makes waiting in line for cake seem silly to me,” Sleeper says. “We have a unique product in that we only sell booze infused cupcakes so I don’t really consider us a part of all that. We just want to help you get drunk with cake.”
The cupcakes cost $4 a pop and carry about one ounce of alcohol, so eating one is like taking a shot, though with the balance of carbohydrates, they may not be as big of a punch to the liver. All the cakes are made from scratch and with high-quality liquor. Sleeper admits that her clientele are fairly straight-forward, “People who like booze and cake.”
Sleeper graduated from American University in 2005 and was born in D.C. Her father was a diplomat, so she lived the majority of her childhood in the Caribbean and Latin America. Since college, however, H St. has been her home and because of her relationships with business owners, it’s been easy to forge a distribution through bars in the up and coming neighborhood. She says she can’t imagine not baking, “If I wasn’t working on H Street and doing Crunkcakes I would probably still be at some god-awful desk job.”