Food in and with cocktails

There has always been a separation between the bar and the kitchen. In the past, people have never really loved the idea of mixing food in their drinks. However, it is now 2018 and times have most definitely changed. The infusion of fresh-food, including savoury flavours in cocktails has increased massively.

Whether it’s crushed grapefruit, fresh herbs and spices, fish (who doesn’t love a good Oyster Shooter?) or fat washing.

Seeing as quality produce and especially alcohol are two of the things that we Brits pride ourselves on, we have nothing but good feelings about this trend.

Not confident in putting food in your cocktail, you could just as easily think about pairing cocktails with your dishes, what better way to enhance the experience of your next dinner party. To help here are some hints and tips to consider.

Use logic

You don't have to be a master mixologist to dream up exciting pairings. "Just think about association of flavour" says Tom Smith, Funkin Ambassador. Olive oil in a dish might take you to lemon. If you're working with butter sauce, you might want to use vanilla.

Compare and contrast

A cocktail can complement a dish by either matching or contrasting its flavours. People who do barbecue pairings will often use bourbon as the smoky flavour of the meat goes well with the smoky, woody flavour of the spirit. If you have something spicy, like a Vindaloo choose something with cooling flavours, like our Funkin Mojito - you could even add a sprinkling of cumin to create an alcoholic take on the Nimbu Pani.

Add herbs

Mint gives Juleps and Mojitos a delightful boost, so why stop there? Herbs are an excellent way to bond cocktails with food, matching similar flavours and herbs to add an extra layer of complexity to your cocktail.

Some interesting ones to consider include sage with tequila and gin with rosemary. Incorporating herbs into cocktails doesn't always mean muddling; sometimes just a sprig as garnish provides the aromatic touch you need.

Ease up on the alcohol

Cocktails are lower in alcohol than most people think. After a spirit is combined with citrus juice and simple syrup, then diluted from being shaken or stirred with ice the resulting drink's alcohol content can be as low as, if not lower than, 20 percent, closer to wine. Still, you don't want to pair a particularly alcoholic cocktail, such as an Old Fashioned, with a dish that has especially subtle flavours.

And most importantly keep an open mind, cocktails like dinner parties are about having fun, nothing worse than stressing about it.

Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

DIY Bacony Booze
Using a technique called "fat-washing" bartenders are lending meaty undertones to alcohol with pork products. It's not like biting into a pork chop we promise. The taste is more of a smoky background note rather than a smack-you-in-the-face sip of bacon. In particular whisky’s, bourbon and tequila stand up to the robust flavour best.


  • 2 cups - spirit
  • 1/2 ounce rendered liquid bacon fat - not smoked
  • Mix ingredients and refrigerate or freeze for 6-12 hours until the fat solidifies. Strain through a coffee filter and refrigerate or freeze for up to 1 week

Cultured Cocktails
While cream is the main ingredient in several classic drinks, yoghurt brings a thicker, creamy viscosity and adds an unusual, lip-smacking tartness to cocktails and mocktails. Yogurt's tanginess also helps to balance out sweet fruit or liqueurs, so perfect for those that enjoy their cocktails a little less sweet. Try it with our passion fruit martini pre-batch mixer.

Marmalade Mixer
Marmalade adds a touch of sweet -- without diluting your drink. It's shelf-stable, widely available and found in so many delicious flavours. Swish a small amount into drinks to add flavour, richness and body. Use a shaker to integrate the marmalade, then strain to remove any fruit chunks.

Garnishes From Your Grocery Bag
a. Swizzle with Pickles
Crack open a jar of pickled veggies, like okra, baby carrots or asparagus spears, in addition to cucumbers. Skewer and leave out for guests to use as edible stirrers.

b. Rim with Fresh Herbs
Rinse and dry fresh herbs completely, then finely chop. Mix them with salt or your favourite ground spice to rim cocktail glasses.

c. Float in Sliced Veggies
Leap beyond lemons and limes: Try thinly sliced vegetables, like fennel in a martini or a firm green tomato in a bloody mary.