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Pairing the right liquors to enhance your food

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A good host knows picking the right drinks to go with dinner can enhance the dining experience for guests. The wrong drinks, on the other hand, can ruin the entire meal by clashing with the palate, overwhelming or changing the taste of otherwise delicious food.

Wine is a common candidate for food pairings, but beer and even cocktails can go well with meals. Spirits in cocktails can absorb fat and cleanse the palate.  This makes them especially useful with rich, fatty appetisers like foe gras, with the alcohol preparing the palate for the next course.

Experiment and trust your palate

The cocktail’s taste should enhance that of the food and vice versa. So don’t overpower your chocolate cake with Bailey’s but think along the lines of what might enhance the taste of chocolate, like a spiced rum.

When stuck, a general guideline would be to pair food with spirits from the same country of origin e.g. Sake with sushi and tequila with Mexican food. The spiciness of the latter is well-complemented by the tartness of the juices in a margarita. The drink can also cut through the richness of the cheeses often used in Mexican cuisine.

Sake
By Tristan Kenney
https://www.flickr.com/photos/14764065        

When in doubt, pair liquour or cocktails with food from the same country, such as sake and sushi.

If you’re serving cocktails like frozen margaritas, blenders like the Electrolux Powermix Silent can come in handy.  Not only does it crush ice easily, its noise-dampening design also ensures guests are able to continue enjoying their meal without loud jarring noises in the background.

Consider the mouth feel

Bloody Mary
By Anthony
https://www.flickr.com/photos/26424952
The Bloody Mary is a common cocktail consumed with breakfast.

How the cocktail “feels” in the mouth also plays a part in successful pairing. This should match the food’s texture.  A great example is Bloody Marys with traditional bacon and egg breakfast where its thick texture and spiciness goes well with the flavours in the meal.  Carbonated cocktails go well with a thick stack of pancakes topped with syrup and butter.

Play with the flavours

There’s no hard and fast rule, so feel free to experiment. Gin and tonic for example, can be paired with dry, spicy cuisines like Thai and Szechuan.  Even buttery shortbread cookies can take on new flavours if taken with a gin martini.

Vodka can go well with caviar, pickled herring and marinated mushrooms, making them ideal for accompanying tapas. If ending the meal with sharp cheeses, consider a good strong scotch or whiskey.

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