The Bar, an Integral Part of the Culinary Experience

Restaurant trends are not limited to what the kitchen produces. Two of the leading trends, culinary cocktails and liquor/food pairings, originate from the bar. Culinary cocktails have taken their cue from chefs sourcing and using the freshest local ingredients to create their menus. Bartenders have transitioned to Mixologists and everything from basil, sage, egg whites, honey, beets, balsamic and broccoli is now on the ingredient list for some of the most innovative drinks. And not only are new ingredients borrowed from the kitchen, but techniques as well. Beyond just your traditional “shaken” cocktail drinks, there are now “whisked,” “frothed” and even “foamed.” Drinks can be paired with the perfect dish or be a complete dessert on their own.

The basis for cocktail food pairing is similar to wine food pairings with a goal of balanced, but complimentary flavors. The mixed drink offers a great opportunity to customize a cocktail to a specific dish or food type. The flavors and notes of a bottle of wine cannot be altered after it is bottled, while a cocktail can be customized for each patron. The ingredients in a cocktail allow it to be intimately connected to the flavors of the dish. A spicy dish could be balanced with a cooling cocktail with ingredients such as gin and cucumber. A dish and cocktail can be good alone, but paired together create a truly unique experience.

So the next time you are asked what you want to drink take a moment to really think about your options. What cocktail could elevate your favorite dish?