When it comes to pairing food and drink, most people might think of wine as the go-to beverage. However, there are plenty of cocktails which can be successfully matched with a meal, to enhance the appetite and really get all the senses piqued.
It does take a little more effort and creativity to pair the complex variety of flavours in a cocktail with food, but it is certainly possible, and very worthwhile. Whether you are having an informal buffet with friends and family, or a sophisticated dinner party, serving the perfect cocktails can really make it feel like a special occasion. Here are a few tips!
Match the cocktail to the cuisine
If you have world foods on the menu, a great choice is to go with a cocktail from the same part of the world. For example, if you are serving Mexican food, such as tacos, enchiladas, and chilli, you could serve classic Mexican cocktails such as the margarita or the paloma.
If you are not a fan of tequila, there’s plenty of beer-based Mexican cocktails to choose from, such as the chelada or the michelada. For Italian food, light fruity cocktails such as Aperol spritz, Bellini, or a negroni make perfect accompaniments. Meanwhile, any of the various sake-based cocktails go well with Japanese dishes.
Match the food with the base spirit
For more subtle and delicate flavours, such as salad or fish dishes, go for gin-based cocktails. A classic gin and tonic or gin martini will complement most foods, and the low alcohol content means that your guests can enjoy something stronger after the meal, if they wish!
Stronger flavours and dark meats may suit a whisky-based cocktail, such as the old fashioned or Manhattan. If you are serving hot spicy foods, complement it with strong citrus flavours in the cocktail, such as the Mojito, or even a Bloody Mary. Sweet cocktails such as the margarita can also balance out dishes heavy on spice and salt.
Pair heavier winter foods with fizz
If you are serving heavier winter foods such as casseroles or roast meats, or lots of fried foods, then light bubbly cocktails can provide a pleasing contrast, as well as help to bring out the flavours fully. You could simply serve white wine spritzers if you want an option that is quick and simple to make.
Another great pairing to serve with heavy spicier foods is the classic mint julep, to provide a light and refreshing contrast. This drink can be made simply from bourbon, mint leaves, and sugar syrup over ice. It can also be refined with overtones of rosewater and vanilla, for a more subtle and complex flavour which really complements the spicy food.
Use bitters and citrus to pair with fatty foods
Much like red wine is paired with red meat, because the tannins in the wine go well with the rich fattiness and saltiness of the meat, astringent flavours in bitter cocktails will have the same effect, smoothing out the palette and enhancing the enjoyment of the dish.
If you are interested in learning more about the art of bartending, please get in touch today!