When it comes to creating the perfect drink for a particular occasion – whether you’re simply relaxing after a long day at work, having a tipple over a romantic meal, or spending time with friends – it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice that now exists. Even if you count yourself as someone ‘in-the-know’ when it comes to different spirits and liqueurs, the number of new distilleries, methods of creation, and flavours available has increased exponentially in recent years. But when it comes to pairing food and liquor together, things can become even trickier than before!

So, how do you tread this veritable minefield of choice and find the perfect complementary pairings of food and liquor for different events, palettes, and tolerance levels? Well, this is where we can help! We’ve done all the hard work and identified some of the best pairings for you, so you can simply mix, sit back, and enjoy.  

Cognac

Often perceived as a drink for more mature, refined characters, cognac is woefully overlooked by a large proportion of people. But, if you know how to pair it with food at a dinner party, we promise that you can convert your friends! Available from quality websites such as distoo.co.uk, there are a variety of class distilleries that produce excellent cognac for your tasting pleasure.

A rich, well-balanced cognac – served neat and at room temperature (remember to sip, not gulp) – is a wonderful accompaniment to the French classic dish, Fruits de Mer – which essentially translates into fruits of the sea, giving a clue to the content – the summer-fruit flavours embedded in the cognac complements a chilled tray of seafood consisting of oysters, mussels, king prawns, and lobster claws. The saltiness of the seafood balances the rich sweetness of the cognac for a perfect pairing.

Bourbon Whiskey

Another great pairing where food’s saltiness meets the sweet, rich, yet spicy character of liquor is with pickled vegetables and bourbon whiskey. Tart and crunchy, pickled peppers, cornichons, and tomatoes work wonderfully with a sipping bourbon. Simply add a splash of cool (not ice cold) water to the bourbon and serve with tapas-style dishes of pickled veg – you can even include kimchi, for a spicier pickled alternative!   

Scotch

Duck is well-known as a rich meat, so you’d think that you’d need a softer liquor accompaniment, right? Wrong. Peated scotch, equally as opulent and strong-tasting, helps to fight the rich fattiness of the duck that can be overwhelming when paired with a lesser drink. Together, they create a heady mix of smoky sweetness that tickles the tastebuds. Again, simply add a splash of water to the scotch to bring out the flavours.

Tequila

Hailing back to its Mexican roots, pairing añejo tequila with tacos is a flavour sensation! Filled with a fatty meat – such as steak, pork, or lamb – and zingy salsas in the crunchy tacos that combat the fiery tequila, this creates an interesting balance. This is, however, only for the truly daring – tequila isn’t to everyone’s taste!

Dark & Spiced Rums

With dark and spiced rums, it’s only right to honour the traditional Caribbean roots when pairing them with foods. Jerk-marinated meat or veg features sweet, salt, spice, and smoke in a sticky mix, creating a complex flavour profile that is only enhanced by the sugar-based sweetness of a neat, spiced rum. If you prefer a little less sweetness, try a dark rum instead; if you want a little more sweetness to temper the heat of the jerk, add a little chilled cola and lime to make a twist on the Cuba Libre!

What are your favourite pairings and which ones do you think you’ll try after reading? Let us know!