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Apr 22, 2008 10:30 PM

Cocktail Pairings

Hey everyone,

I'm having a dinner party this weekend - I have all the dishes sorted out and ready to go, but would like to prepare some cocktails. Any suggestions for the following menu?

-Eggplant Caponata
-Pasta Salad with Sun-dried tomato pesto
-Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
-Couscous with pinenuts and golden raisins
-Potato Gratin
-Birthday Cake

Thanks a lot!

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  1. If the weather is warm, try a white rum and tonic with a lemon wedge for the app, main course. I have also been very fond lately of old fashions (rye or bourbon) and manhattans, heavy but a true, 3 ounce cocktail is sufficient. Lots of people are doing mohitos as well, great light summer choice or mint julips. Try nice fruit wine for dessert, I love the raspberry wine from a coastal maine winery whose name escapes me now. Lastly, make your own Sangria with lemons, oranges, limes, tart apples with equal parts of red, white, rose, dry lemon, lime, orange juice and a dash of compari. Soak to set up overnight.....

    1. Forgot one that you can make for many, a pomegranite tini, good vodka, pom liquer and scattering of seeds at the bottom....

      1. I disagree with jspear's list (finding the flavors way too heavy/sweet to pair with your light summer menu), but to each his own.

        I'd personally offer an aperitif of champagne cocktails, maybe made with a tiny splash of St. Germaine, to keep things summery. I also like Lillet Blanc on the rocks, with a splash of soda.

        With the meal, I'd probably do a white wine spritzer, although that chicken and pasta salad are screaming for an IPA to me. If the spritzer's too mellow for your crowd, you can always add a very small amount of fruit purees (a la bellini) to liven things up a bit. I think too much fruitiness will detract from your menu, though.

        I'd save any "tini" type cocktails til after dinner, since they're terrible with food. Same for the mojitos. The average Joe likes these kinds of drinks, and they're festive, so give 'em a whirl...after dinner.

        I've been drinking a Ruby Red Mojito. Mix the following ingredients to your taste, as some like mojitos light and sweet, but I prefer mine dry and strong:
        ~White rum of preference
        ~Whole key lime
        ~Fresh mint sprigs (muddle with lime)
        ~+/- 2 ounces of fresh squeezed juice from a Ruby Red grapefruit
        ~Squirt of simple syrup
        ~All over ice, topped with soda water.
        This is the most refreshing drink known to mankind. Authentic? Nah, but so very good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: invinotheresverde

          I guess to each his own, I find your choices, other than the great, non-authentic Mojito, too light and watery for the garlic and sundried pesto, too subtle. I do like the champagne cocktail idea however with the standard casis and a twist. I'm never afraid to add shaken dacquiri and standard margarita's as well but each his own....maybe a margarita punch, to save time and to have on hand for ease of service.....

          1. re: jspear

            Margaritas with caponata and ratatouille? Wow.

            I think we'll have to stop here and agree that we have very, very, very different palates.

        2. Well, that menu certainly sounds great.
          I agree with invino's post; I personally do not care for pairing heavy / fruity cocktails with garlicky, savory food. Save those sweet cocktails for barbecue, mexican, or thai food.
          I would think you could not go wrong with your menu by offering:

          - pre-dinner choices of campari & soda (or its variants like negroni or americano cocktail), vermouth and soda (sweet or dry OK ... make sure vermouth is high quality and fresh though)

          - wine with dinner

          - and along the lines of jspear's idea of fruit wine w/ cake, you might also consider ice wine at dessert (there are a bunch of good ones from the northwest), served chilled in little glasses. <mouth waters>

          1. Sounds like wine is the way to go with that menu, not cocktails.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              Agreed. In retrospect, all of my "cocktail" rec's are made from grapes, excluding the mojitos for later in the evening. This meal really wants wine.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                OMG an area of agreement. Of course I would go heavier on the wine but this is a wine menu, of course invino, we would pick opposite ends of that spectrum as