Here’s what you need to know before shaking up a list of cocktails to go with your next dinner party menu.
• Keep an eye on the alcohol content. It’s socially responsible and besides, too high an ABV will dull the palate and overwhelm delicate flavours. Include low- and no-proof drinks in your lineup.
• Bittered drinks, like the Negroni or Boulevardier, are designed to whet the appetite, and should be served with savoury appetizers.
• Just as high-acid wines are the food-friendliest, the tart flavour of citrus-forward drinks can complement a wide range of foods.
• White spirits and fresh herbs go best with lighter dishes like seafood and fresh summer greens.
• Darker spirits like whisky, brandy or aged rum go best with red meat. A rye Manhattan is classic with grilled steak while a bourbon Old Fashioned is ideal with BBQ pork.
• One easy shortcut is to match a region’s spirit to its cuisine, for instance: sake-based cocktails with Japanese cuisine; tequila ones with Mexican; rum with Caribbean.
• Dessert cocktails should complement rather than match—a raspberry-flavoured French Martini goes better with chocolate mousse than, say, an Espresso Martini.