The right cocktail and food pairing creates an immersive dining experience. Heighten your offerings’ beauty, aroma, and taste with these simple tips for pairing foods with cocktails.
Consider National or Regional Origins
Considering the origins of a dish or drink is one way to make a satisfying combination. Food and drink traditionally consumed in the same region work well together by design.
Spritzes and vermouth cocktails work well with Italian cheeses and cured meats. Follow the lead of Northeastern Italians for an attractive aperitivo starring a spritz paired with cheese and cured meats. Or use vermouth to create a Negroni, a classic Italian cocktail.
Highlight a Special Element in the Cocktail
The next simple tip for pairing food with cocktails is to highlight a special element in the cocktail. People often create pairings by considering how the cocktail can enhance the food rather than the other way around. But considering the cocktail first can make it easier for you to flex your creativity.
You can make your cocktail unique with exciting techniques like fat-washing. This process infuses alcohol with rich flavors from fats such as coconut oil, bacon, butter, or duck fat. You want the enhanced flavor and mouthfeel to shine through, so pair your drink with foods that don’t minimize these effects.
Complement Flavor Profiles
The five basic tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. You can consult a profiling tool called the flavor star to understand how these tastes interact, and make it easier to pair flavors by adding fresh ingredients to your cocktails.
Some tastes enhance each other when paired together; for example, a sour drink will emphasize the umami flavor of your dish. In contrast, other tastes balance each other out. If you don’t want your cocktail to ramp up the spicy flavor in your meal, you can use a sweet drink to add balance.
If cocktails and foods share the same origin, consider pairing them together for a natural combination. If you want to emphasize the cocktail, use food to accentuate what makes the cocktail special. Finally, you can flavor profiles to pair tastes in the food and drink to emphasize or soften the tastes of each.