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Pairing cocktails with food?


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I am recently into wine (about 2-3 years), but jumped in with both feet. Did a trip to Napa, set up wine storage in my basement, etc. One of my favorite aspects of wine is pairing it with food. How wine changes the taste of the food and how the food changes the taste of the wine. I love to plan a meal/wine.

So having said that, I regularly get a hankering for cocktails instead of wine. As I limit my alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks max, maybe 2 or 3 nights a week I have to choose carefully. If I'm in the mood for cocktails, I don't open a bottle of wine as I won't be able to finish it before having to dump a significant portion. Depending on the wine, this makes me crazy.

So recently I started thinking about pairing my meal to the cocktail. I generally think of brown spirits like red wine and pair accordingly, and clear spirits like white. 

 

I was wondering if others out there had found particularly good pairings I could try. Also, I am supposed to be hosting a retro themed cocktail party soon and would love to hear suggestions.

 

 

 

 

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The red/white analogy seems sound to me. It's probably obvious but geographical origin of the spirits or other ingredients could be tied to the cuisine too. 

I think of mixed drinks being naturally suited to before or after meals (aperitif and digestif functions), but maybe not such a clear fit alongside a big meal. Perhaps a shim would fit the bill as a wine replacement. 

 

For the retro party it'd be helpful to clarify to what era it was retrospective. There's a big difference between 20s/30s drinks, 50s/60s, or 80s/90s! But the quickstart list at Kindred is not a bad place to start if looking for classics.

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 If I'm in the mood for cocktails, I don't open a bottle of wine as I won't be able to finish it before having to dump a significant portion. Depending on the wine, this makes me crazy.

What makes you think that your wine won't last 2 or 3 days?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I must admit, I find cocktail pairing with food to be tough. Unlike beer and wine, cocktails are short, sharp shocks of intense flavor that either dominate food or are overwhelmed by it. The best cocktail to go with food are often those that have a wine base, things with vermouth or sherry. I find boozy, stirred cocktail almost never pair well with food. Sours can work, but only if the additional ingredients are not too assertive.

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Years ago I was a guest at a dinner that was an attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of food/cocktail pairings. Those involved parlayed the concept into a series of well received courses at a Michelin *** restaurant and then what continues to be an extremely successful bar in the 'molecular mixology' realm. So, yeah, decent bonafides... Even with skill, talent, and organization behind that effort, the dinner was not exactly a success. There were certain courses that floored me, including a whitefish with blackberry sauce that was served with a whiskey smash where the fruit created a perfect bridge. But, even when the pairing worked perfectly, there were structural concerns to the concept that I'm still not convinced they've overcome (even today). The proof, the volume, the intensity...they all need to be dialed in perfectly. It's not impossible, but it's a tough ask.

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True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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What makes you think that your wine won't last 2 or 3 days?

I know it will last 2-3 days, but I generally only drink on Friday and Sunday nights (work schedule and weight control :D). So if I open a bottle on Friday night, I can finish it on Sunday, no problem. But if I go with a cocktail one of those nights it means the wine will sit until the following weekend. 

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