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Everyone knows the importance of matching food and wine, but a growing trend in the cocktail world is matching cocktails and food. If you are planning a dinner party you may want to consider offering a cocktail instead of wine, and it is not as crazy an idea as it sounds! You may think that a cocktail will get all your guests hammered before they finish their main course; but in fact most cocktails are not much stronger than a new world red, clocking in around the 20% mark. Obviously martinis, old fashionds etc are a different story!

Dry martini served with oysters

The Mad Men classic: oysters with a dry martini, a truly great pairing.

One of the benefits of having a cocktail to compliment dinner is that you can tweak a classic recipe to suit the dish you are serving, making the match much more flexible.

This week we thought we would share some top tips for food and cocktail matching and give you some examples to try at home!



  1. Match flavours. Seems obvious but the first thing is to think associatively so butter and vanilla for example, or festive fayre and warm spice.
  2. Decide whether you want to compare or contrast your drink and the dish. Sometimes you might want a fresh drink to cut through a rich, creamy sauce and other times you might want to match the creamy flavours with something equally velvety. Another example would be to pair a spicy dish with something cooling like cucumber.
  3. Be careful not to overpower the dish. If you are serving a delicate dish like seafood you don’t want a big rich rum or whisky drink. If in doubt think about wine: you wouldn’t pair a deep red with a light meat or fish and the same principle applies with cocktails.
  4. Body. Body can be a difficult concept to explain, but if you imagine a spectrum from water to honey, the latter has much more weight on the tongue, in other words more body. As a rule of thumb you will want more body with heavier food and also sweeter dishes, hence dessert wine being more full bodied than Champagne!

Those are very broad pointers, but if you fancy come ideas, why not try:

Oysters and a dry martini
Admittedly we are going straight for a strong cocktail here, but the delicacy of the martinis flavour works perfectly with the oysters, whilst the alcohol cuts through and refreshes the palate. A lemon garnish is crucial here we feel.

Cheese and a negroni
Choose a strong hard cheese like parmesan and you will be rewarded with an interesting match. The acidity of the negroni really helps to cut through the fatty cheese and freshen the palate.

Sushi and a French 75
Seafood and Champagne are a classic combination, so pairing the punchy French 75 with your favourite nigri is a no-brainer. The botanicals that gin brings to the cocktail work with the asian flavours, especially if you use something like Beefeater 24, which is made with two different green teas as well as more classic botanicals.