4 Guidelines for Cocktail and Food Pairings

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Most of us know that red wine goes with meat, and white wine goes with fish. But, why should wine have all the food pairing fun? Cocktails can go just as nicely with your meal, but it can be difficult to figure out the right pairings.

To help you get started, here are four guidelines for cocktail and food pairings:

  • Match the mixer: The strongest flavor in most cocktails comes from the mixer, not the spirit. Keep this in mind when pairing. For example, the strong citrus flavor in a lemon drop goes well with fresh seafood, like raw oysters.
  • Compare and contrast flavors: Think of a cocktail pairing as either complementing or contrasting the flavors. Barbecue goes very well with bourbon, since the smoky flavor of the meat complements the smoky flavor of the spirit. Or, if you have something spicy to eat, choose something with cooling flavors, like a Mojito.
  • Add herbs: Seasoning is a great, easy way to connect cocktails with food. Add herbs to a cocktail to match the flavors in your dish. You could pair sage with tequila, gin with rosemary, or rum with mint.
  • Consider texture: The consistency of a cocktail should also play into your pairing decisions. Thicker cocktails generally don’t go well with red meat or rice sauces. Frozen cocktails can overwhelm the palate, while carbonated cocktails pair well with full-bodied foods.

Interested in learning more about cocktail and food pairings? We recommend the book, “Cocktails: 180 Recipes with Delicious Food Pairings” ($9).

Photo credit: revamp.com 

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