The Best Cocktails to Enjoy with Pasta

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There is something about pasta that demands we enjoy it with wine. You walk into an Italian restaurant and are immediately greeted with the wine list.

But, did you know, that there are cocktails out there that pair perfectly with your egg fresh penne? Here are a few for you!

Macaroni and Cheese and Negroni

Comfort food and a classic cocktail make the perfect combination! The Negroni is an aperitif, designed to stimulate the appetite so that you can make the most of the cheesy goodness! This light, bitter-sweet cocktail works with your stomach to digest your food so you don’t get that bloated feeling after over-indulging! It works well with any cheese-based pasta dish.

Negroni cocktail recipe

  • 30ml Gin
  • 30ml Campari
  • 30ml Red vermouth

Add all the ingredients directly into a lowball glass with ice and stir. Garnish with an orange slice and serve.

View the full recipe

Macaroni cheese, with its creamy, rich, and savory cheese sauce enveloping tender pasta, provides a comforting and umami-rich base. Its inherent richness and saltiness can sometimes feel heavy, but this is where the Negroni steps in with its balancing act. The Negroni, a classic cocktail made from gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari, introduces a bittersweet profile, with herbal and citrus notes cutting through the creaminess of the cheese.

The gin's botanicals add a complex aromatic layer that can elevate the simple, earthy flavors of the macaroni cheese. Meanwhile, the vermouth adds a sweet, herbal quality that complements the nuttiness of the cheese, and the Campari brings a bitter edge that can cleanse the palate between bites, making each forkful as satisfying as the first. This pairing is a dance of contrasts—rich versus refreshing, creamy versus crisp—that unites to create a multifaceted dining experience.

Seafood Linguine and Margarita

Seafood and tequila go together like cheese and onion, bread and butter, or pasta and cocktails! This is a match made in heaven, with the warmth of the margarita beautifully accompanying this salty dish. The lime works well too, adding a sharp edge to the palate.

Margarita cocktail recipe

  • 20ml Triple Sec
  • 15ml Lime juice
  • 50ml Tequila
  • Pinch Salt

Rim the edge of a cocktail glass with salt by coating the edge with lime juice and dipping into the salt. Add the other ingredients to a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice. Shake well for 10-15 seconds or until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

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Seafood linguine, with its medley of tender, briny seafood—such as shrimp, scallops, and clams—tossed in a light, garlic-infused olive oil or a slightly tangy tomato-based sauce, brings a taste of the ocean that's both elegant and full of umami. This dish's slight saltiness and oceanic flavors are wonderfully complemented by the fresh, zesty profile of a Margarita.

The Margarita, a classic cocktail comprising tequila, fresh lime juice, and Cointreau or triple sec, introduces a bright citrusy tang and a subtle sweetness that can enhance the natural flavors of the seafood. The lime juice, in particular, mirrors the traditional squeeze of lemon often served with seafood dishes, brightening the linguine's flavors without overwhelming them. The tequila, with its unique herbal and slightly earthy undertones, adds an additional layer of complexity that can bring out the subtleties in the seafood, while the sweetness from the triple sec balances the dish's saltiness, harmonizing the overall dining experience.

Moreover, the cocktail's icy refreshment and the pasta's warm, comforting texture create a pleasing contrast, making each bite and sip an invigorating sensory experience. This combination showcases how contrasting flavors and temperatures can come together, offering a sophisticated balance that elevates the enjoyment of both the drink and the dish.

Sausage Fettuccine and Moscow Mule

The simple pleasures of sausage and pasta are perfectly matched with the spicy, fresh tones of the Moscow Mule. This is a combination for those meals where you really want to indulge, enjoying the fizzy ginger beer on your tongue along with the meaty morsels and slimy fettuccine!

Moscow Mule cocktail recipe

  • 45ml Vodka
  • 10ml Lime juice
  • 120ml Ginger Beer

Add the vodka and lime juice to a highball glass with ice. Top up with ginger beer, garnish with a lime slice and serve.

View the full recipe

Sausage fettuccine, characterized by its rich and savory profile, features spiced, meaty sausage slices tossed with fettuccine pasta in a creamy or tomato-based sauce. This dish is a comfort food staple, offering a satisfying combination of textures and flavors, from the al dente pasta to the flavorful depth of the sausage, possibly accentuated with herbs and spices like fennel, garlic, and chili flakes. The sauce, whether velvety and cheese-laden or bright and acidic from tomatoes, adds another layer of complexity and richness to the dish.

Introducing a Moscow Mule to this pairing adds an entirely new dimension. Made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and fresh lime juice, served over ice in a copper mug, the Moscow Mule offers a refreshing counterpoint to the density of the sausage fettuccine. The ginger beer brings a lively kick and a gentle effervescence that can cleanse the palate, cutting through the richness of the sausage and the creaminess or acidity of the sauce. The lime juice, with its bright acidity, enhances the flavors of the dish, much like squeezing a wedge of lemon over a rich meal to lift and balance the flavors. Vodka, being relatively neutral, does not overpower the meal's flavors but ensures that the cocktail maintains a presence alongside the robust dish.

This pairing works well because of the contrast in temperature and texture, as well as the complementary interplay of flavors. The cold, bubbly Moscow Mule with its sharp ginger and lime flavors refreshes the palate after each rich, savory bite of the sausage fettuccine, making each forkful as enjoyable as the first. This combination is a testament to the principle that opposites attract, offering a dining experience that is both varied and harmonious.

Spaghetti and Meatballs and Aperol Spritz

This is possibly a pairing that you have tried before, as the Aperol Spritz seems to be the optimum Italian cocktail! The bitter bubbliness of this drink works well with the tomato sauce and slurpy spaghetti! And if you spill any down you, everyone will assume it is the pasta sauce – winner!

Aperol Spritz cocktail recipe

  • Dash Soda water
  • 60ml Champagne / prosecco
  • 45ml Orange liqueur

In a highball glass with ice add the Prosecco, then the dash of soda water, then top with the orange liqueur (traditionally Aperol) before serving.

View the full recipe

The dish, with its tender meatballs nestled in a bed of spaghetti coated in a rich, savory tomato sauce, offers deep, comforting flavors and a satisfyingly chewy texture. This traditional richness and the umami-packed profile of the meatballs are beautifully offset by the Aperol Spritz.

An Aperol Spritz, made with Aperol, Prosecco, and a splash of soda water, provides a refreshing and effervescent counterbalance. The bitter-sweetness of the Aperol, with its hints of orange and complex herbal undertones, complements the acidity of the tomato sauce, while the bubbly Prosecco introduces a lively, crisp finish that cleanses the palate. This combination not only enhances the flavors in the meal but also introduces a light, aromatic component that makes each bite of spaghetti and meatballs feel new and exciting. This pairing is a celebration of Italian culinary traditions, marrying the comfort of pasta with the brightness of a beloved Italian drink.

Lasagna and the Godfather

A hearty meal calls for something weighty to wash it down. The Godfather is ideal; easy to make and incredible to drink. The combination of Amaretto and whiskey just seems to bring the lasagna to life, so that it tastes better than ever before.

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Godfather cocktail recipe

  • 35ml Amaretto
  • 35ml Whiskey

Add the ingredients over ice to a whisky glass. Give the mixture a stir and serve.

View the full recipe

Pairing lasagna with a viewing of "The Godfather" immerses one in a deep exploration of rich, complex flavors that echo the intricate dynamics and intense narrative layers of the film. Lasagna, with its luxurious layers of savory meat sauce, creamy béchamel or rich ricotta, tender pasta, and golden, bubbly cheese, offers a symphony of textures and tastes. The savory depth of the meat contrasts beautifully with the creamy, soothing layers of cheese and béchamel, creating a culinary experience that's as complex and compelling as the Corleone family saga.

"The Godfather," with its rich storytelling and complex characters, mirrors the depth and complexity found in each bite of lasagna. The sharp tang of the tomato sauce can be likened to the film's occasional sharp twists and turns, while the comforting layers of pasta and cheese reflect the deep bonds of family and loyalty that underpin the narrative.

This pairing isn't just about the act of eating; it's about how the flavors of the lasagna complement the viewing experience, enhancing the emotional weight and the atmospheric depth of the movie. Each layer of the lasagna can represent a layer of the story's complexity, from the struggle for power to the importance of tradition, making the act of dining while watching not just a meal but an immersive sensory experience that blends taste with storytelling.

Spaghetti Carbonara and Pisco Sour

Both these recipes require eggs, which might be why they blend so well together in the mouth. The creaminess of the carbonara is enhanced by the bitter cocktail, creating a taste sensation that you’ll want to replicate again and again!

Pisco Sour cocktail recipe

  • 30ml Lemon Juice
  • 15ml Sugar Syrup
  • 1-2 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1 egg white Egg
  • 60ml Pisco

Add all the ingredients except the bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted then strain into a chilled lowball glass. Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters over the top, garnish with some mint leaves and serve.

View the full recipe

Spaghetti Carbonara, with its silky sauce made from egg yolks, Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cured pork (such as pancetta or guanciale), and a generous seasoning of black pepper, provides a comforting, umami-rich experience. The creaminess and savory flavors of the carbonara, rooted in its quality ingredients, make for a deeply satisfying dish that's both simple and sophisticated.

A Pisco Sour, on the other hand, introduces a vibrant contrast to the Carbonara's richness. This cocktail, made from Pisco (a grape brandy from South America), fresh lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and a dash of Angostura bitters, offers a bright acidity and a frothy texture that can cleanse the palate. The sourness of the lime and the slight sweetness cut through the richness of the carbonara, refreshing the taste buds and enhancing the nuanced flavors of the pasta and pork. Meanwhile, the egg white in the cocktail mirrors the creamy texture of the Carbonara sauce, creating a harmonious link between the drink and the dish.

This pairing is about balance—the warmth and creaminess of the Spaghetti Carbonara are beautifully offset by the cool, crisp notes of the Pisco Sour, making each bite and sip a delightful experience. The contrasting flavors and textures highlight the best qualities of both the meal and the beverage, proving that opposites do indeed attract and can complement each other in unexpected and delicious ways.

Sangria

Of course, if you can’t get away from the idea of pasta being married with wine, you could always make a batch of Sangria to enjoy.

When pairing sangria with a pasta dish, the choice of wine can significantly influence the harmony between the drink and the meal. For a versatile pairing that complements a wide range of pasta dishes, from light and zesty to rich and savory, a medium-bodied red wine is an excellent choice. Specifically, a Tempranillo from Spain or a Sangiovese from Italy offer the right balance of fruitiness and acidity, with enough body to stand up to hearty ingredients without overwhelming delicate flavors.

Sangria cocktail recipe

  • 15ml Orange liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar Syrup
  • 90ml Red Wine
  • 30ml Orange juice
  • 15ml Lemon Juice
  • 15ml Brandy
  • 15ml Soda water

Stir all the ingredients except the soda water together in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into an ice-filled wine glass and top up with a splash of soda water. Garnish with slices of strawberry, orange and lemon, and mint sprigs, and serve.

View the full recipe

Tempranillo, the star grape in many Riojas, brings flavors of cherries, plums, and tomatoes, with a smooth texture and a hint of spice, making it a great base for sangria that pairs well with tomato-based pasta sauces like marinara or bolognese. Its moderate tannins and acidity can complement the acidity of the tomatoes and the richness of meat, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Sangiovese, the grape behind Chianti and many other Italian reds, offers a slightly higher acidity and notes of red cherries, earth, and herbs. Its natural acidity and aromatic profile make it an excellent match for pasta dishes with olive oil-based sauces, pesto, or vegetables, as it can cut through the richness and highlight the fresh, herbal components of the meal.

When making sangria to pair with pasta, consider adding fruits like oranges, lemons, and berries to the wine, along with a touch of brandy or orange liqueur, to create a refreshing beverage that complements the flavors of the dish. A dash of sparkling water just before serving adds a refreshing effervescence that can cleanse the palate, making each bite of pasta as enjoyable as the first. This approach ensures that the sangria enhances the flavors of the pasta dish without competing with it, creating a balanced and enjoyable meal experience.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while wine and pasta share a long-standing and cherished partnership, the world of cocktails offers a vibrant and innovative way to complement and elevate the pasta dining experience.

From the bittersweet allure of a Negroni with macaroni and cheese to the effervescent charm of an Aperol Spritz alongside spaghetti and meatballs, each pairing is a testament to the versatility and potential for culinary exploration beyond traditional boundaries.

The thoughtful matching of flavors, from the creamy richness of carbonara with the crisp acidity of a Pisco Sour, to the rustic depth of lasagna with the bold layers of The Godfather cocktail, invites us to reconsider and expand our notions of what makes a perfect complement to our favorite pasta dishes.

Whether opting for the refreshing contrast of a Moscow Mule against sausage fettuccine, or the harmonious blend of sangria with a range of pasta creations, these pairings celebrate the diversity and richness of flavors that can only be achieved when open to the endless possibilities of pairing pasta with the dynamic world of cocktails.

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