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Spirits Pairing for Every Plate

Enhance your overall food experience by pairing meals with spirits. Explore how the different spirits flavor profiles can marry food profiles to create an unforgettable pairing.

Spirits & Food Pairing Tips

Although it can be more challenging to pair spirits and cocktails with food, use our tips to find the best choice for your plate.

  • The spirit or cocktail should complement the food, not overpower it. For instance, try sipping on plain vodka with a rich, smoked fish dish, like smoked salmon blinis. Don’t like vodka straight? Opt for a vodka tonic or vodka gimlet.
  • Match the weight or intensity of the spirit with the food. Lighter spirits like vodka, gin, light rum or tequila blanco go with lighter foods, while heavier spirits like bourbon, dark rum, tequila añejo or cognac stand up to richer, flavored foods.
  • When pairing a cocktail with food consider the overall texture and intensity of the drink. Cocktails with lighter, fresher textures and intensities pair best with fresh and lightly prepared foods. A cocktail with a heavier texture — including those with whiskey, cognac or aged rum — pair best with heavier dishes, including grilled and aged cheeses.
  • If the cocktail and food share a common ingredient, then you probably have a match. Are there herbs in the dish? Pair it with an herbal gin or an herb-accented cocktail.
  • Decide if you want to complement or contrast the food. For instance, bourbon’s sweet and smoky richness complements foods that are sweet and smoky (think fatty meats like bacon), but it’ll contrast salty or acidic foods (like an aged gouda). If you have a spicy dish, pair it with a cool, refreshing cocktail like a cucumber mint mojito.
  • Don’t be afraid to match a dish with the spirit’s origin. For example, the rum in a mojito pairs well with Caribbean cuisine while Mexican food and tequila are always great partners.

Spirits & Food Pairing Basics

When it comes to pairing spirits with your dishes, don’t be intimidated. Food pairings can enhance the character of spirits just as spirits can enhance the character of food. Try these pairings at your next get-together.

Half a dozen bottles of sparkling and still wines sitting in a metal ice bucket.

Drink Calculator

From dinner parties to wedding receptions, no matter how many guests you’re expecting, our drink calculator is a handy tool to help you figure out how many bottles of wine and spirits you’ll need for your next gathering.