When it comes to food and drink pairings, most of us tend to be pretty old-school. As in, red with beef, white with fish.
But that’s a pretty broad brush with which to paint the way we eat and drink. Most meals are composed of a symphony of flavors and textures, any one or more of which could be the inspiration for a drink pairing. Seasonings, for example, often play a bigger role in determining the flavor profile of a dish than the main ingredient does.
This is particularly true in summer, when we are wont to slather barbecue sauce onto whatever we throw on the grill. At this point, the meat or veggies are far less important to a pairing than the ingredients used in the barbecue sauce. Which is to say, a brown sugar-bourbon barbecue sauce would want the same drink whether it’s on a chicken breast or a beef tip.
To help you start thinking along these lines, I created three deliciously different barbecue sauces that are versatile enough to be used on whatever you care to grill — a tangy apricot and brown sugar barbecue sauce; a Central American recado rojo, which is rich with oregano, cumin and ancho chili powder; and a balsamic strawberry jalapeno sauce.
Then I sent off these recipes to Davin Affrunti, a mixology master and bar director for Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco.
“In considering what to pair with each sauce, I definitely think about what might be the most prominent flavors when completed,” he explained via email. “Spices can react tricky depending on the preparation, as can citrus and acid. Finding ways to complement these flavors is crucial.”
And when it comes to barbecue sauces, that isn’t always easy. By definition, these sauces tend to be big and bold. That can be a lot to consider. The tangy apricot barbecue sauce is a great example.