Thursday, September 10, 2020 10 mins read

Thursday, September 10, 2020 10 mins read

Eat & Drink: A Guide To Food and Cocktail Pairings

Ace your next date-night-in or dinner party with these tips for food and drink pairings. 

Food and drink complete one another. Rarely do we enjoy one without the other, so it’s natural to want these pairings to be as appetizing and agreeable as possible.  

The right drink can take a meal to a higher level. The wrong one will knock it down a peg. So your cocktail pairings are crucial. 

People have paired wine with food for ages. As it turns out, cocktails actually work far better than wine for adding background flavors, or to act as a palate cleanser. 

Wine coats the palate. Whereas spirits absorb fat, actively cleansing the palate in anticipation of the next bite or course. 

The right cocktail doesn’t overwhelm your food. 

With the endless combination of flavors cocktails can produce means an almost infinite number of opportunities to find ones the complement specific elements in your food. Good luck finding a wine that incorporates flavors like horseradish, pumpkin or butterscotch

Complementing: Matching and Contrasting Flavors

The two best approaches to pairing cocktails with food are by either matching or contrasting their flavors. 

If the cocktail and the dish share a common ingredient, it’s likely the two will pair together nicely. 

Opposites attract, so working with contrasting flavors is another proven way to pair cocktails with food. Heavier drinks go well with lighter dishes and vice versa. 

Enjoy These Moscow Mule Food Pairings

Permeating through every mule recipe are flavors of ginger and lime, which are also heavily present in various Asian cuisines. Highlighting similar flavors, Thai and Vietnamese dishes make ideal moscow mule food pairings. 

Moscow Mule by Northern Latitudes Distillery


2 oz. Ice Dune Vodka 

Ginger Beer

Juice of 1 Lime



Add vodka and lime juice to a chilled copper mug with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime.

Seafood: The Perfect Mojito Food Pairing

If the dish started in the sea, it will pair beautifully with the bright, sharp flavors of the rum-based favorite. From ceviche to fish and chips, if you’d enjoy it poolside, it goes with a mojito.

Mojito by Humboldt Distillery


1.5 oz. Organic Original Rum 

1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

Soda Water

2 tsp. Sugar

6 Mint Leaves


Gently muddle mint with sugar and lime juice in a hi-ball glass. Add rum and stir. Top with crushed ice and soda water. Garnish with mint and lime.

Cocktail Pairing Checklist

Keep It Simple

  • Simplicity is sophistication. Adding flavor upon flavor to a cocktail just for the sake of doing so doesn’t mean it’s going to be a success. It’ll likely lead to little more than palate confusion. 

Consider Secondary Flavors

  • Steak may be the centerpiece of your main course, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be pairing towards the taste of red meat. Think about the spices or sauces involved and work to complement them. 

Think About Cuisine Type

  • If you find yourself in need of inspiration, look no further than your menu’s ethnic origin. Looking for cocktail pairings for Italian food? Try an iconic Italian cocktail, like a Negroni. Serve brandy beside French-inspired dishes. An all-American cookout? Don’t forget the bourbon.

Enhance, Don’t Compete

  • Remember that the flavors present in your cocktails are meant to add to the dining experience, not compete with it. Go with drinks that either match or contrast the food on offer and you’re bound to win more often than not. 

Apply Common Sense

  • It doesn’t take a master mixologist to come up with a pairing that works. Just a little horse sense. Think of things that naturally go good together. Cooking with olive oil, use lemon in your cocktails. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner, maybe mix in some cranberry juice. 

Mexican and Margarita Food Pairings

Carnitas, shrimp tacos, or chicken tamales. If your abuela taught you how to make it, chances are it pairs with the classically sweet and salty flavors of an impeccable batch of margaritas. 

Ambassador’s Cadillac Margarita by Embajador Tequila


4 oz. Embajador Premium Tequila

1.5 oz. Orange Liqueur

12 oz. Top Shelf Margarita Mix

Half A Fresh Lime, hand squeezed



In a large glass, combine tequila, orange liqueur and margarita mix. Stir with mixing spoon. Salt the rims of your margarita glasses and fill them with ice. Pour mixture into margarita glasses. Top with fresh lime juice. 


Martini Food Pairings To Snack On

To cut through the briney bitterness of a martini, you’re going to need a distinctive snack. A charcuterie board arranged with sharp cheddars and cheeses works well to temper the classic cocktail.

Classic Martini by Jewell Distillery


2 oz. Jewell Gin

0.25 oz. Dry Vermouth


Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with olives.

A Winning Pair


One part trial and error. One part common sense. Shake vigorously, add a dash of adventurous spirit and you’re well on your way to mastering the subtle art of pairing cocktails with food. 


Don’t be afraid to fail, and experiment plenty. 


After all, there are just suggestions. Jumping off points. 


The culinary and cocktail arts are celebrations of creativity, and they’re best enjoyed when they’re shared. So whip up signature meal, shake up an experimental cocktail, and share your creations with the people you care about most.