As you plan your next gathering or soiree, don't overlook pairing your snacks or meals with a cocktail menu, a few spirits, or some beers that'll highlight the spread of food you've prepared. The seamless relationship between food and cocktails delights the senses, from smokey cocktails to caramel bourbon to crisp and sharp IPAs.
Setting the Table With Food and Cocktails
When you're deciding how to craft a menu that'll blend well together, be it through similar flavors or complementary contrasting flavors, consider the circumstances and the style of the event. A food menu that focuses on scotch as a pairing may not shine in a group setting at a BBQ the way having different types of beer on hand will...let alone appeal to more people. With that in mind, consider a few of these tips as you decide on your pairings.
Whether dining solo or hosting, consider the spirit you're pairing when prepping food. If you want to match snacks, desserts, or full entrees, just about any spirit will take the table from ordinary to extraordinary. It makes no difference if you're working with tropical rum flavors or want to highlight a smoky scotch, or keep it traditional with whiskey and highlight bourbon's soft notes. Better yet, dream beyond the classic tequila and taco Tuesday pairing.
Taking Flight With Beer
Put your fridge full of different beers to good use. Whether you craft an entire meal around a rich stout, allow a pale ale to mellow out sharper flavors, or plan a different beer for each snack or course, beer is so much more than it's given credit for.
Satisfying a Craving
With different styles of foods come different kinds of spirits and cocktails to satiate the heart. After crafting or shamelessly buying, desserts, complete the dream with a creamy dessert cocktail or spicy mixed drink to offset the sugar. Or make snack time adult time with boozy combinations to match your hunger.
Striking a Food and Cocktail Match
Do the prep work beforehand when you're playing matchmaker. Experiment with how that plum margarita pairs with a fried fish sandwich before serving it and lauding this pairing. Make sure your idea of a classic IPA with a slice of artisanal pizza doesn't result in an overload of bready flavors, and be sure to steer clear of eggs and beer. As you draft your menus, consider themes or palettes you've seen in real life. If you don't find a lot of tropical rum drinks on a steak house menu, there's a reason for that. But you do find old-fashioneds or whiskey drinks, so stick to dark rums if that's the spirit you've chosen. Take the extra time to connect the dots and flavors that are similar.
After giving your food and beverage menu a test run, consider your audience and the timing. A bourbon or beer-forward pairing may not be the way to go if you're hosting brunch. Does your group enjoy scotch? If not, save those marvelous pairings for a crowd that can appreciate those particular nuances.
Positively Tasty Pairings
There's nothing wrong with keeping things classic and simple as you get the ball rolling. Consider a few of these as you develop and refine your own palette and menus.
- A pale ale with a cheeseburger or grilled sausage
- A margarita with a fried chicken or grilled steak taco
- A gin martini with crab cakes or a shrimp pasta dish
- A glass of scotch with a perfectly cooked filet or slice of apple pie
- A glass of prosecco or Champagne with a lemon tart or truffle fries
- A bourbon old-fashioned with crunchy sweet potato or pecan cobbler
Food and Cocktails: An Iconic Duo
Coupling your food and cocktails together is a tale that's old as time. However, playing with fun new flavors is a bonus of living in the modern age. Once you master a few simple flavors, you'll be mixing up new spirit and food duos in no time.