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The 411 on Food and Cocktail Pairings

It’s no secret that some wines go better with certain foods than others. What you might not realize is the same holds true for cocktails! 

Great food and drink pairings are all about bringing out the best flavors of both. You spend enough time cooking the perfect meal, so let’s put that same energy into crafting the perfect cocktail

The major party foul here, of course, is that cocktails are a little more complicated than wine because more complex flavors are involved. 

Let’s look at some best practices that help you pair like a pro:

Weigh Your Choices

Heavy meals call for light, refreshing drinks — and vice versa. Think about the food you’re serving and opt to serve a seemingly opposite concoction. 

Add Aromatics to Enhance Flavor

The sense of smell directly correlates with the sense of taste. When you take a sip of your cocktail or a bite of your food, you usually smell it first (consciously or subconsciously), which sets the stage for how it tastes. 

Adding aromatics to your cocktails, such as mint, bitters, or other herbs, can help to bring out the flavors of your food and drinks. You can muddle them into the concoction, or simply add them as a garnish.

Choose Complementary Flavors

Your cocktail should complement the meal, not take center stage. If your drink flavors are too strong compared to the food, it’s the wrong choice.

Let your food be your cocktail flavor guide. Choose sweet drinks for non-sweet foods, and vice versa. Also, if your food has a certain ingredient that you can also use in a cocktail (think lemon, mint, etc.), go for it!

Go Regional

I say tacos, you say margaritas —



Foods and drinks from the same region go well together, usually because they share similar flavors. If you’re not sure about a drink’s origin, grab a menu from a restaurant that serves that cuisine and see what’s on their cocktail menu.

For more spirited insights, head back to the SIP Awards blog.

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