Spirits Food Pairing Guide

Host a liquor-tasting party or serve a delicious meal at your house with this pairing guide. Learn about entrees, side dishes, desserts, and condiments that pair with your favorite drinks, then experiment with different flavors after you master the basics.


Tequila is made from the agave plant, which gives it a sweet, earthy flavor. Each type has a different flavor profile. Some are fruity, while others have more smokiness or spice. Typically, "sweet" is still the dominating taste, which makes tequila ideal for light meals.

Cooks frequently serve tequila with seafood, such as fish tacos and garlic prawns. The fresh fish complements the smooth tequila. Serve guacamole on the side to bring out the drink's earthiness. You can use tequila to mix margaritas for a fruity brunch drink.


Whiskey has a dry, earthy flavor with faintly sweet and spicy notes. Like beer, the grain in the recipe can impact the whiskey's taste. Some brands are more bitter or smoky, while others taste like malted barley. Sweeter brands can taste like cinnamon, caramel, or maple syrup.

Serve whiskey with hot, savory meat dishes, particularly smoked salmon and grilled steak. The smoked salmon's saltiness pairs well with savory whiskey. For dessert, serve dark chocolate brownies, lava cakes, or raw pieces by themselves.


Brewers make gin from herbs and juniper berries that give the drink a distinctly "pine-y" taste. Different herbs and botanicals, such as coriander, licorice root, and orange peel can make the gin sweet, floral, or fruity. Barrel-aged gin can taste spicy and woodsy.

Gin pairs well with vegetable-based dishes, such as cucumber sandwiches, that highlight the earthiness. Serve fish and chips as an entrée with fudge for dessert. The rich and savory flavors complement the drink, especially barrel-aged gin.


Bourbon is a specific type of whiskey brewed from corn mash. Brewers age the bourbon in barrels to give it a distinctly woodsy flavor. This drink tends to taste sweeter than whiskey and has a smoky, caramel-like flavor, although some varieties are spicier or more bitter.

Pair bourbon with sweet, earthy side dishes, such as figs and banana bread. If you prefer a woodsy, smoky bourbon, brisket enhances the rich flavors. Cook the brisket on a grill with wood chips for best results.

Some brands pair better with these combinations than others. Try these combinations at home to see how well they suit the brands in your liquor cabinet.