Understanding Food and Cocktail Pairing
When thinking about pairing a dish with alcohol then wine will probably be your first choice. Food and cocktail pairings are a new-age trend as mixologists become more creative and innovative. Whether you’re a professional bartender, aspiring mixologists, or date-night overachiever there is no reason for you not to present an exquisite dinner experience by pairing your dishes with cocktails.
Food and wine pairing are for most people easier than a food and cocktail pairing, but food and cocktail pairing is fun and a surprising flavoring experience. When pouring a wine out of a bottle you know exactly what to expect, but a cocktail, on the other hand, can be tweaked and the flavor can be created from scratch. This makes food and cocktail pairing a science that with a little guidance can easily be understood.
When pairing cocktails with food think about the association of flavors like lemon and olive oil or ham and pineapple. Take the strongest flavor in your dish and just use common sense to choose a cocktail flavor to pair it with. It’s all about matching and contrasting and to not let one flavor overpower the other.
There are different ways to go when thinking about food and cocktail pairing. A good guide is to take the most distinctive flavor of your dish and pair it with a flavor that complements and contrasts it.
Soft-flavored dishes like duck or chicken goes well with a strong and flavorful cocktail like an Old-Fashioned or a Third Rail.
If you have a spicy and aromatic dish than consider an airy and refreshing cocktail like a Blue Gin Delight or a Traditional Mai Tai.
Greasy and fatty dishes are especially good with a cocktail with a higher alcohol content. This is the reason why people often pair barbecue dishes with bourbon or whiskey cocktails. Spirits with high alcohol can absorb the fat more easily.
Sweet flavors, like desserts, pair well with lighter cocktails to balance the sweetness. Desserts with tart fruits can also pair well with spicy smokey cocktails like a Mezcal Margarita. It’s not a traditional combination, but can you imagine the flavor explosion of a lime sorbet with a smoky Mezcal cocktail?
You can also take one or two flavors of your dish and make a cocktail around it. A turkey with cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving can pair well with a cocktail made with the same berry flavor.