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Aug. 10, 2022
Food and wine pairings have become so widely accepted and well-known that you probably understand the basics. Red with meat, white with fish. Or you may be a connoisseur who knows exactly what vintage goes with which course. But what about cocktails?
Here are our guidelines for what palate-pleasing combinations work best.
Beyond wine, things can get a little more complicated. Instead of wine which, while diverse, has broad categories (like red and white, or dry and sweet), the possibilities for cocktails are nearly as varied as food itself.
That’s why it helps to have a good rule of thumb. You want to pick cocktails that complement the general flavor of the food, without matching it too much. You also don’t want it to overpower or compete with the food.
To simplify, you can even think about what food flavors typically go together and work with that. For example, think of common flavor pairings like lemon and blueberry. That could be a Lemon Drop and blueberry cobbler. For an al fresco Italian dinner featuring pasta with tomato and basil, you can complement your meal with a refreshing Watermelon Basil & Soda. A Waldorf salad with bleu cheese and pears would pair wonderfully with a sparkling La Poire Grand Fizz.
A wonderful cheat is to also just pair vodka cocktails with the origin of the cuisine. So you could serve a Vodka Margarita with tacos, the sake-based Wandering Poet with sushi or the Parisian Martini Cocktail with filet mignon.
First up is one of the easier pairings as there are traditional cocktails to serve before the meal. No doubt you’ve served a light bite to your guests at the very start of a dinner party. But there’s also the timeless tradition of serving aperitifs — alcoholic drinks typically served before the meal. Commonly, these are low ABV drinks. Some examples include vermouth, sherry and amaro.
But you don’t have to serve those spirits — which can be rather bitter — straight. Instead you can incorporate them into delightful-tasting cocktails. The most popular cocktail to incorporate vermouth, the Vodka Martini Cocktail, would be a great choice. The aperitif Gentian is featured in Don’t Gentian It, while ST-GERMAIN® Elderflower Liqueur is in the Le Citron Grand Fizz. The Cartini features two different aperitifs — Lillet® Blanc and sherry.
Any of these aperitif cocktails would pair perfectly with some light bites pre-dinner.
Once you get to the main course, you’ll want to learn more on the basics of pairing, as mentioned above. But there are some general guidelines for some of the more common entrees that work well.
If your meal is:
Serving a cocktail with the final sweet course always makes for a great grand finale. You’re probably already accustomed to putting sweet flavors together, so this course is a little less challenging. There are plenty of sweet drinks for you to choose from, but we have a few suggestions.
Many people like coffee with their dessert, and we like our coffee with Grey Goose Vodka. Try serving an Espresso Martini Cocktail with coffee cake. An orange-forward drink like the White Cosmo would go great with anything chocolatey. And a Mango Collins would go great with many fruit-based desserts.
Elevate your next dinner party with thoughtful cocktails that complement your dishes — from the appetizers all the way to dessert. And take your home mixology to the next level with the right tools, the right glassware and the right garnishes. Your guests will be impressed and will make sure to RSVP for your next gathering.
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