Blogs and Inspiration
Pairing Food and Drink Together
Learn how to pair certain food and drinks and best add these combinations to your menu.
Authors: James Fowler, World Class Bartender, Vasilis Kyritsis, Top 50 Bar Owner and Ewan Gunn, Global Whisky Master
Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes
Creating the Perfect Pair
Delight customers and exceed their expectations by learning to pair certain foods perfectly with drinks. Matching your serves and dishes creates an opportunity to increase satisfaction and encourage customers to spend more by delivering a memorable experience.
Learn from James Fowler, Vasilis Kyritsis, and Ewan Gunn to uncover the essential fundamentals of pairing food to master this art.
Basic Pairings To Try
The core principle of pairing food and drink is that the elements must work together. When pairing food with drinks like cocktails, you want to work with the biggest flavor in your meal when creating a drink to enhance the taste and experience.
A sweet dessert often won't work with a sweet cocktail. Instead, a sharper, crisper, and lighter cocktail will provide a better balance to the meal.
Vasilis Kyritsis, Owner of The Clumsies, one of the top 50 best bars in the world, shares some examples of outstanding combinations.
- Aged rum and bitter chocolate work well because of their acidic and bitter character.
- Vodka and fish are a great pair, as the spirit's crispness balances the fish's fattiness.
- The smokiness of whisky goes well with dried, full-bodied red meat.
- Tequila Blanco and its earthy identity go great with vegetables and other foods with a herbal character.
The best way to pair food and drink is to offer them in your menu as aperitif and digestif pairings. These can unlock revenue opportunities and gives you a chance to showcase your food and drink pairing talent.
A great aperitif pairing is a crabmeat salad made with avocado, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and lime paired with a quality Gin and Tonic. The salad here pairs well with the floral notes of the gin.
A fantastic digestif option is fermented and pickled vegetables paired with a Negroni. The acidity of the pickled vegetables adds more complexity to the Negroni, and the herbal flavors also complement each other well.
Pairing With Whisky
Whisky is incredibly varied, with distinct and different aromas, flavors, and tasting notes. This makes it a great spirit to create cocktails and drinks that pair with food.
Pairing the right food with the right whisky can be tricky. Follow these core tips from Ewan Gunn to master whisky and food pairing:
- Think about the flavors that whisky can bring out of the food and vice versa.
- The flavors need to complement each other but don't need to match. For example, spicy foods often work well with sweeter whisky.
- Light whisky works best with lighter foods, such as seafood.
- Serve medium-bodied and richer whiskies with gamey meat to enhance the flavors.
- Full-bodied whisky works best with strong-flavored foods, such as a cheese platter.
- The aroma and texture are also important to consider when pairing whisky and food.
Despite wine being the most popular drink to pair with food, whisky is growing in usage, especially in spicy South Asian and Indian dining.
Although heavy beer has traditionally been the drink of choice when pairing spicy food, a popular trend is to pair the spice and sizzle of Indian food with whisky cocktails.
This creates an exciting and enticing combination that offers a more rounded flavor experience. This is something that many curry houses and restaurants focused on South Asian flavors are doing. Here are a few great recipes to try:
The No Label Recipe combines smokey whisky with ginger ale and sweeter syrups to create a refreshing cocktail that still provides its own kick.
This Old Fashioned twist builds on the traditional zesty flavors by adding bourbon-infused honey undertones and fruity syrups. The New Fashion recipe is filled with the delicate, floral tastes in spiced Indian food, making it a great pairing.
This cooling whisky cocktail is designed to refresh and relieve you, clearing your palette for more. The Citrus Blue Recipe has a tropical feel and pairs well with this type of food.
- The core principle of pairing food is to create balance while using complementary flavors.
- A great way to offer food and drink pairings is with your aperitifs and digestifs.
- Whisky has become a great drink to pair with food, as there are a lot of different varieties that work with various meals.
- Whisky cocktails make a great pair with spiced food, enhancing the palette while offering freshness.
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