Eating and drinking, we all love to do it, and we all love to do it in different ways. When it comes to pairing the two, we all know that red wines goes with red meat, white wines with cold dishes, beer goes with BBQs and junk food (or just as a stand alone meal – am I right?). So where does that leave cocktails? Stronger in alcohol, often overpriced at bars, cocktails are those delicious concoctions if you’re looking for something to impress. But how do you pair a cocktail with your favourite dishes? Take it above and beyond the margarita with Mexican food and remember that cocktails and food don’t have to be separate.
The right cocktail can add flavour to a dish and complement it in ways that traditional alcohol can’t. So, here are five cocktails and a couple of dish ideas that will impress at any dinner party, or just satisfy your soul on a Friday night in.
There’s a reason why Negroni has an entire week dedicated to it. This staple from Italy is a favourite at aperitivo hours (meaning before dinner time basically) throughout Australia. The recipe is simple and easy to make.
- 20ml Campari
- 20ml Gin
- 20ml Sweet Vermouth
Mix the ingredients with ice cubes and serve with an orange zest. It pairs perfectly with cured Italian meats like prosciutto or Soppressata and sharp cheeses, such as blue cheese or aged Asiago if you’d like to keep within the Italian theme. Otherwise it’s a great palette cleanser before your takeout pizza.
#2 Lime Drop Martini
Martini’s scream class and style, but it is also an incredibly versatile cocktail. There are variations of the cocktail that range from fruits all the way to chocolate. The classic Martini has long been paired with Oysters but that is not the only way to enjoy a martini. Instead, try a Lime Drop Martini that will match with spicy salsas, tacos or Frijoles Negros, a hearty Mexican bean stew that benefits from the crispness of a Martini.
- 45ml Vodka
- 15ml Triple Sec
- 90ml Fresh Lime Juice
- 2 ½ teaspoons of fine sugar
All ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into your sugar rimmed martini glass and garnish with a lime peel.
#3 The Repossession
You’re probably thinking, what the hell is this? Well it’s apparently a favourite at NoMad restaurants in New York. And if you don’t know what they are well, just trust me it’s an amazing cocktails that you can easily make at home. The tequila based cocktail works best with fatty rich meats like pork. This is one of the more alcoholic of these options but when done right the acidity of the flavours will match perfectly with your dishes. Try it with barbecued pork loin or even some slow cooked finger licking ribs.
- 30ml Reposado Tequila
- 20ml Amontillado Sherry
- 15ml Apricot Liquer
- 15ml Lemon Juice
- 10ml Cane Syrup
This is another cocktail where all you have to do is throw the ingredients together and shake. Serve in a coupe glass if you have one.
#4 Mint Julep
This classic cocktail is a terrific addition to any summer barbecue. Bourbon is known for playing a role in barbecued meats and sauces so why not drink a variation around your food. The sugar and the mint in this one is not only refreshing but will cool any spicy food and complement any sweet ones.
- 75ml Bourbon
- 5-6 Mint leaves
- Teaspoon of raw sugar
Muddle together the sugar and a few mint leaves in the bottom of the cup. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add bourbon and stir. Top glass with a bit more ice and stir before garnishing with a mint sprig. If you do this recipe right you won’t even realise you’re drinking bourbon.
#5 Brown-Sugar Snap Swizzle
There is never a time when a dessert cocktail is not a great idea. However many dessert cocktails are time consuming, complicated (we’re looking at you, Espresso Martini) and are like preparing a dish in themselves. This cocktail is a sweet bubbly treat that will work well with any sweet desserts.
- 15ml Brown Sugar Syrup
- 30ml Schnapps
- 3 dashers of bitters
- Sparkling Wine to top
To make the syrup just combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of brown sugar in a sauce pan over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove and let it cool, you can keep this in the fridge for up to two weeks. To make the rest of the cocktail combine all the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.
Image Sources: Melbourne Cocktails, Mantitlement, Steve The Bartender, Cocktail Virgin, Art In The Age, Unsplash.