Offering simple food and beverage pairings provides an easy way to engage patrons and give them more of a dining experience - even if they are just saddling up to the bar for a quick drink after work. It also allows you to promote more expensive spirits and drive profits.
While you might not consider yourself an expert on food and drink pairings, there are some simple tips you can follow so that your customers leave satisfied and eager to return. Perhaps the easiest route is to stick to food and wine pairings, but you may also be surprised just how easy it is to pair liquors with certain proteins.
Whiskey tends to have a smoky flavor that is rich and deep, which makes it the perfect companion to a nice piece of steak or aged beef. Create an hor devours that showcases beef and makes for easy finger food, and choose a premium whiskey to set off the rich flavor of the meat.
For the wine drinkers, go with a heavy and robust red, such as a Petit Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep in mind that the flavors in a light, crisp wine will easily be overpowered by a rich, meaty dish. Choose a wine that can go toe-to-toe with a nice cut of meat.
Whiskey and Dessert
Whiskey can also do double duty as a great dessert drink. Even a simple piece of salted, dark chocolate with caramel can provide the perfect end to a meal. Sometimes doing the classics well is better than coming up with more complicated desserts that may be trying to do too much.
Chicken and Shrimp
Typically, restaurants will pair chicken with a crisp white wine. Chardonnays and other full-bodied wines paired with chicken do a great job of complimenting one another - but if you are looking to offer a liquor, then gin should be your first go-to. Again, don’t worry about getting too complicated with mixing a cocktail with a lot of ingredients. A classic gin and tonic will provide a refreshing partner to both spicy and mild chicken dishes.
Gin is also a solid choice for shrimp. The pairing keeps things light and refreshing without overpowering the food. Instead, the flowery, citrus flavors of gin will work to enhance both chicken and shrimp.
Pay Attention to Spices and Seasonings
If you pay attention to the protein being served, you can quickly get a feel for which wines, spirits - and even beers - pair well with certain dishes. Once you feel comfortable with simple pairings, begin to consider the other spices involved in each dish. If you are serving up hot, spicy dishes, you will want to offer a sweeter drink to help cut the heat.
For smoky or barbeque dishes, look for drinks with deep oak flavors. Whether you go with wine or beer, you will be impressed by how much a barrel aged product does for the dish.
Following some basic guidelines can help you create a menu with solid food and drink pairings. As you continue to edit or expand your pairings menu, be sure to taste combinations for yourself. The more you are aware of different flavors and how they interact, the better you will be able to make recommendations and add creative ideas. And if all else fails, remember that you can never go wrong with beer and pizza.
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