When hosting guests during the holiday season, it’s crucial to serve up the perfect festive appetizers and entrees. However, prepping delicious fare is just one part of the equation, and no holiday gathering is complete without offering up a dazzling, festive cocktail.
Wine is a great go-to mealtime drink, but creative cocktails exude the convivial spirit to match the ambiance of the holiday season. When looking into pairings for cocktails and entrees, there are a host of ingredients that generally mix and match nicely with different food categories. There’s no need to go overboard pairing food and drinks, but there is something to be said for the right drinks enhancing the dining experience.
Your basic pairing strategy should ensure that your drink complements your entree without overpowering it. Cocktail liquors that tend to pair exquisitely with white fish are tequila, vodka and gin. Dark liquors might not work as well across the board, but, of course, consider the specific flavors you’re working with in your festive fish dish and keep an open mind.
These spicy Caipirinhas from Martha Stewart are a shining example of how a sweeter cocktail can work with the flavors of your fish entree without detracting from the dish. With just four ingredients, the flavors of the drink are nuanced and the preparation exceptionally easy. This cocktail is perfect for when the chilly winter air has you craving a taste of the beach.
- 24 ¼-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
- 12 limes, quartered, plus thin wedges for serving
- ¾ to 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 bottle (750ml) cachaca
Place 2 ginger slices and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar in each of 12 tumblers. Use a muddler to mash ginger. Add a quartered lime to each and crush with muddler. Fill glasses with coarsely crushed ice, add a ¼ cup cachaca to each and stir well. Squeeze lime wedges into glasses and serve.
The simple flavors of a classic dry martini complement just about any white fish dish, and can elevate your holiday meal with its delicious simplicity. Use vodka or gin in this recipe from Food & Wine according to preference, and garnish with an olive or lemon twist.
- 1 tsp dry vermouth
- 6 tbs gin or vodka
- 1-inch piece of lemon zest
Fill a shaker with ice. Pour in the gin or vodka and dry vermouth. Stir for 1 minute. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Gently twist the lemon zest over the drink and drop it in.
White Wine Spritzer
If you’re intent on serving only wine but still want to mix things up a bit, try serving these white wine spritzers from The Spruce Eats with your fish entree. Comprised simply of chilled white wine and club soda, these spritzers are incredibly refreshing. Drier white wines—particularly Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling—pair notoriously well with white fish, so this drink can accompany just about any fish recipe. This drink is also easy to adapt for designated drivers: simply swap out the white wine for non-alcoholic sparkling wine soda and ginger ale.
- 3 ounces chilled white wine
- 1 ounce cold club soda (or mineral water)
- Lime wedge or orange peel for garnish
Fill a white wine glass or highball glass with ice. Pour in the wine then top with club soda or mineral water. Garnish and serve.
Comprised of Champagne, Cointreau orange liqueur and cranberry juice, this cocktail from Mix That Drink is ideal to serve during holiday celebrations. Light and crowd-pleasing, a Poinsettia contains less alcohol than your average party drink, and its vibrant, bubbly red appearance looks sensational in champagne flutes. Be sure to pair your Poinsettia with white fish appetizers or entrees with milder flavors.
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- 3 ounces cranberry juice
Pour the Cointreau and cranberry juice into a chilled champagne flute. Stir them and top the rest of the way with Champagne.
The Bootleg Cocktail
While the holiday season isn’t exactly synonymous with tropical recipes, this lemon, lime and mint-based cocktail from Cookie and Kate contains a measured citrus flavor that works for this time of year. Serve the Bootleg cocktail with Mexican white fish dishes like Tilapia tacos or chile relleno de pescado. Classic mojitos and margaritas are also excellent staples to turn to when serving food with Latin flavors, so be sure to bring a little fiesta to the winter season.
Ingredients (Bootleg mix):
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons, juiced)
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 1 large or 2 medium limes, juiced) or additional lemon juice
- ¼ cup light agave nectar or cane sugar or honey
- 2 packed tablespoons fresh mint leaves
To make the Bootleg mix, juice the lemons and limes into a liquid measuring cup. Add sweetener. Pour the juice and sweetener into a blender. Add the fresh mint leaves and blend thoroughly until the mint is is broken into tiny bits.
Ingredients (per drink):
- 2 ounces Bootleg mix
- 2 ounces gin, vodka or bourbon
- 2 ounces club soda
Fill cocktail glasses with ice. For each drink, pour in 2 ounces of your Bootleg mix, plus 2 ounces of your liquor of choice and top with 2 ounces club soda.
There’s no need to over-analyze which specific drinks pair with particular foods. Just as with most things, simple, logical pairings work best, so get into the holiday spirit by serving up a delicious holiday spirit!
For more pairing options, have a look at these healthy and delicious holiday side dishes.