The classic gin and tonic, and all its recent variations, hints at summer and is a refreshing cocktail. When you want the drink to be more than a solo star, deciding which foods can share its stage may seem daunting. Fear not. Gin and tonics pair well with a host of appetizer or light snack foods. As you decide what to snack on with your cocktail, just remember to balance the flavors.
Snack on seafood and citrus with your gin and tonic for a flavor that complements the brightness of the cocktail. The fat in smoked salmon or gravlax, cold-cured spiced salmon, served with toast provides a rich counterpart to the drink. Shrimp, scallops, and oysters sprinkled with lemon juice all pair nicely with gin, as well. Serve small crab cakes with lemon aioli for a bite-size snack. Alternatively, top crackers with sour cream, thinly sliced cucumber and cocktail or pan-seared shrimp for a simple and tasty hors d'oeuvre.
As evidenced by trendy takes on the gin and tonic, which call for muddling berries into the drink, fruit offers a refreshing and light snack to pair with the cocktail. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and even cranberries provide a nice counterpoint to the bite of the quinine in the tonic and the juniper flavor of the gin. For a small dessert pairing, try a fruit sorbet, such as blood orange or raspberry. Consider serving a simple bowl of fresh grapes for snacking.
Nuts for Snacking
Skip the long-time bar staple of peanuts and snack on almonds instead. The fat, salt and rich nuttiness balance the citrus, floral and woodsy notes of the gin and tonic. Hazelnuts and macadamias also pair well with the drink. Be careful to drink water in addition to the cocktail, because the salt from the nuts may make you thirstier than you realize and quickly lead to overdrinking.
Cheers to Cheese
Gin and tonics pair well with cheese, especially strong-flavored varieties that hold their own against the cocktail. Try snacking on Manchego or Stilton, served alone or with crackers. Smoked chevre, or goat cheese, provides a nice earthiness to balance with the drink. In general, strong hard cheeses also work well with gin and tonic.
- The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails; Mittie Helmich
- The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails; Tony Abou-Ganim
- What to Drink With What You Eat; Andrew Dornenburg et al.
- Cocktails: 180 Recipes With Delicious Food Pairings; Gianfranco Di Niso et al.
Kathryn Roberts has worked in the culinary industry for nearly a decade in various roles, including pastry chef and bakery manager. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America, she earned her BFA from Goddard College and is pursing an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
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