Just as a fine red wine complements a rare filet mignon, so can a martini complement a mature cheddar. Alcohol and cheeses seem to have been designed for each other. Mixing a mild cheese with a mild drink or a sharp cheese with a strong drink creates a dance in one’s mouth unlike any other food and drink combination. Let’s discuss what to know about pairing liquor with cheese.
Sampling a mild brie with a bold drink such as whiskey will taste like whiskey. Keep in mind when pairing the strength of the drink as compared to the cheese. A strong flavor will cancel the other one out. It is best to make both the cheese and the drink compete for your attention.
Pair With the Spirit Not the Cocktail
Cocktails are created using more than just spirits. We add sodas, fruits, bitters, etc. When creating a pairing of cheese and a drink, consider the base spirit rather than the entire cocktail.
The gin in the gin and tonic or the vodka in the martini are what you are truly pairing with the cheese.
Here are some possibilities for your next pairing. It’s important to keep in mind that these are ideas and not written in stone. Use your tastebuds and experiment until you find the best pairings for yourself.
Cheese That Pairs Well With Whiskey
When choosing a whiskey, be careful not to confuse a scotch and a bourbon or a Tennessee whiskey with an Irish one. For starters, your afficionado friends may wear you out with arguing the differences. And second, when pairing with cheeses, the flavors are distinctly different and will affect pairing.
Go for a strong blue cheese that can keep up with a whiskey or any alpine style cheese with robust flavor.
Cheese That Pairs Well With Gin
Gin has floral notes and is often described as having a fresh flavor. That is no surprise since it’s distilled with herbs and berries. This fresh and floral essence makes it a great liquor to drink alongside any smokey cheese or a soft gouda.
Cheese That Pairs Well With Vodka
Vodka is subtle (the reason it sneaks up on us so easily!) so it requires a subtle cheese, or it will be overpowered.
Consider a soft brie or goat cheese; both are wonderful when spread on a crostini and enjoyed with a vodka cocktail. Any of the mild and creamy cheeses will pair well with your favorite vodka.
Remember as you practice pairing liquor with cheese—serve your cheese at room temperature, cocktails however you prefer, and smiles with guests as you gather to enjoy tasting and making memories.