For years, food pairings were solely devoted to wine. A red wine was a perfect accompaniment to meats while white had its place next to pasta and fish. Nowadays, not only have the previous rules been broken, food and alcohol pairings have been expanded. Beer dinners have become popular over the past few years, and now spirits are getting in the game.
Take tequila. For a long time, tequila was solely relegated to the role of shots at parties and a “quick way” of getting drunk. Yet like a fine wine, a prime tequila is delicate, with different nuances and flavors. Now, many tequila producers are showcasing these subtleties and the detailed process by which they come about.
Tequila and Food Pairings
The revolution of craft spirits and the reintroduction of craft cocktails have created a respect within the food and beverage industry for tequila and tequila-based cocktails. Chefs no longer want to be restricted to food pairings with just wine or beer. They enjoy the challenge of crafting menus that include a wide variety of pairing choices, including spirits like tequila.
Patron, which has been a leading tequila brand since its inception in 1989, recently introduced its new Roca line, an artisanal line of tequilas using the ancient Tahona process involving the use of volcanic stones to crush the agave plant. To promote the new line, Patron is taking “Roca on the Rails,” traveling around the country in a 1920s train car and holding tequila-food pairings along the way.
The train stopped at the new Denver Union Station back in September and we had the opportunity to enjoy a menu created by TAG restaurant paired with Patron Roca cocktails by Brandon Meyer of Star Bar.
Ahi Sashimi, Asian Pear Wasabi, Almonds, Black Tobikko and Carrot Vinaigrette paired With The Sahroca (Cooler Roca Patrón Silver, Cucumber, Lemon, Honey and Ginger).
Black Cod, Corn Pannacotta, Pistachio and Pumpernickel paired with The U.S.S. Roca (Roca Patrón Reposado, Hibiscus Syrup, White Grape and Lemon).
Slow Roasted NY Strip, Lima Bean Succotash and Huckleberry Jus paired with the Stones Throw Roca (Patrón Añejo, Coconut Syrup, Wormwood Bitters and Lemon Twist).
Grilled Palisade Peach, Macadamia Nut Crunch and Thai-Basil Pinenut Granita paired with The Even Tidings (Roca Patrón Añejo. Raspberry, Chocolate Bitters and Lemon Oil).
A favorite of the night was the NY Strip with the Stones Throw Roca. The tequila cocktail really brought out the flavors of the steak and the sides. But overall, the cocktails were a good fit for all of the prepared dishes.
Patron is not the only producer dabbling in food pairings. At the Great Chefs Dinner in Bridgehampton, NY, Casa Dragones tequila was paired with a plethora of desserts: Oyster Ponds Berries with Crème Fraiche and a chocolate “Candy bar” with Blood Orange Chili Caramel. This demonstrates just how effective tequila is for any course. Denverites can use these experiments as inspiration for creating their own tequila/food pairings.
How to Start Pairing
Just like wine, different tequilas will pair differently depending on the meal. You will have to do some experimentation at first to determine which tequila works best with your selected app, main course and dessert. Here are some recommendations to help get you started:
Generally, Silver tequila goes best with appetizers or light first courses:
- Chips and salsa/guacamole
- Pork or seafood dishes
Reposada tequila has more of an oaky flavor to it since it’s aged at least two months to one year in oak barrels. It’s best paired with dishes like the following:
- Anything with honey, cinnamon or orange juice, or anything spicy or smoky.
- Chicken breasts or steak
Añejo is one of the oldest tequilas since it needs to be aged at least one year. These tequilas have the strongest oak taste, but it’s also a lot smoother and has more subtleties. Try it with:
- Beef tenderloin or filet or sirloin steak
- Reserve cheeses
- Chocolate truffles/cake
- Roasted chicken
While these are some suggestions, feel free to experiment. Buy different types of tequila and see how they pair with your meals. Please share your successes with us!