Cocktails aren't just for "cocktail hour" anymore! "Mixology" - the art of mixing drinks - is catching on all over the globe, bringing us more complex cocktails using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Trendy restaurants are pairing cocktails with their menus. What fun! Farm Fresh Cocktails To Pair With Food is a first look at pairing cocktails with food...
Summer has come and gone in the northern hemisphere, and autumn colors have begun to decorate landscapes in much of the U.S., yet south Texas is still hitting the century mark. 😯 The Rio Grande Valley is a major agricultural area, and farmers' markets, local groceries, and my herb garden are still going strong. Fresh herbs, chiles, cucumbers, mangoes, figs, and blackberries are plentiful, inexpensive, and local. Of course I incorporate them into my menus regularly, but I have only recently begun playing with cocktails. Just this month I posted my first cocktail recipe An Exotic Tropical Margarita.
I think when I mention "cocktails," most people think of "cocktail hour" - perhaps a drink with hors d'oeuvres before a formal dinner... reserved for an event or party? I spend a fair amount of time following food trends (one of the hazards of being a food blogger 😉 ), and lately, cocktails and food pairings have become very popular in the culinary world. Trendy restaurants are hiring mixologists to create cocktails that pair with their menu items using house made syrups and flavorings, and farm fresh seasonal ingredients. This is a trend I'm quite happy to jump on! For more information see A Guide To Pairing Food and Cocktails. In considering a cocktail, keep in mind that you want the cocktail to complement the dish/meal rather than match it...
If you follow my blog, you may have noticed my recipes tend toward bold, spicy flavor profiles. Many of my recipes don't pair well with wine (i.e. Tropical Black Beans and Rice) Even if the menu works well with wine, sometimes you just want to change it up a bit. I asked some of my food blogger friends for their best farm fresh cocktails recipes, and was so excited (and a bit overwhelmed) by 135 submissions! I narrowed this list to reflect the gorgeous produce currently available in the Rio Grande Valley. With a little bit of encouragement, this may become a regular feature on my blog. 😉 Need a summer cocktail? Check out 8 Low Calorie Summer Cocktails You Must Try (#3 is Amazing!) from Positive Health Wellness.
[one-half-first]Fig Bees Knees - Girl In the Little Red Kitchen: There's still time to enjoy fresh figs! This elegant cocktail pairs gorgeous fresh figs with gin, honey, and lemon in an updated and sophisticated twist on a classic cocktail. I LOVE figs in savory dishes like my Bleu Cheese, Fig, and Crispy Prosciutto Flatbread and my Fresh Fig and Soppressata Pizza. Try pairing this late summer/early autumn cocktail with bold cheeses and salty Italian meats. Sounds like a perfect evening on the patio with a gentle ocean breeze and great company. 🙂
[one-half]The Gardener - This Is How I Cook: Cilantro, jalapeño, and lime are fresh and available year 'round in McAllen. The fresh ginger adds an unexpected twist to this spicy and refreshing cocktail! These flavors would pair well with just about any spicy Asian, Mexican, or Southwest dish. I would pair this with my Fried Oyster Tacos With Citrus Salsa, or your favorite tacos recipe! A little Mexican sizzle in your drink is sure to make your tacos taste even better![/one-half]
[one-half-first]Rosemary Blackberry Limonata - The Little Epicurean: I'm with Maryanne... My cocktail flavors are determined by what I find at the farmers' market (and in my garden). Rosemary is so easy to grow, and blackberries are abundant (and cheap) in south Texas. This fresh, fruity, herby cocktail includes a rosemary and blackberry infused simple syrup, fresh blackberries and rosemary, and vodka, and gets topped off with a splash of limonata or lemon soda. Imagine the pairing possibilities with this one 🙂 I would certainly enjoy this with my Pressure Cooker Lamb Provençal. Take your cue from the rosemary... Provençal flavors, an herb-rich risotto, chicken piccata... [/one-half-first][one-half]Spicy Jalapeño Mint Moscow Mule - Tasting Page: This beauty is no barnyard animal! You have to read Kelly's story about the history behind the "Moscow mule." I love the farm fresh flavors in this spicy rendition of a classic cocktail. Again, I think this makes a perfect beverage alongside any Mexican dish, but would also pair well with tropical flavors like my Tropical Black Beans and Rice.[/one-half]
[one-half-first]Spicy Cucumber Cocktail - Chili Pepper Madness: "A refreshing cocktail featuring the flavors of crisp cucumber, fragrant cilantro, tart lemon, and fiery serrano, made a little sweet with sugar and rallied with cilantro vodka..." I love Mike and Patty's description of their cocktail! It's so fresh with all of the farm fresh ingredients! I'd love this one with barbacoa tacos or my Lengua Tacos With Salsa Verde and Caramelized Onions.[/one-half-first][vertical-spacer]
[one-half-first]Fresh Fig Margarita - Karen's Kitchen Stories: When figs are in season, I've got to have them! They're available at our farmers market and local grocery for several weeks this time of year... into October. There's nothing quite like a fresh fig. 🙂 They are fragile, and do not last long after ripening. If you're looking for a new way to use them, try this gorgeous cocktail - fresh ripe figs, St. Germain or Grand Marnier, silver tequila, and fresh lime juice. I know you'll love this one with a grilled pizza![/one-half-first][one-half]Spicy Mango Citrus Cocktail - Tasting Page: Mango, orange, lime, and mint with tequila (or sparkling water for a non-alcoholic version) certainly takes advantage of the bounty of fresh produce available at this time of year. Naturally sweetened - with no added sugar - this refreshing drink will tickle your taste buds with fish tacos or my Mexican Fish In Parchment.[/one-half]
[one-half-first]Lemon Grass, Kaffir Lime, and Ginger Mojito - Delicious Everyday: The title of this gorgeous cocktail just speaks to me of Thai cuisine. The not-too-sweet flavors echo the flavors in my Thai Curried Snapper In Banana Leaves, and the bubbles keep it nice and light. Delicious Everyday's Thai Pumpkin Rice Burgers is a vegetarian option that would be perfect with it, and pumpkins are in season![/one-half-first][one-half]Cucumber Mojito - Ciao Florentina: Florentina was inspired by a trip to Cabo for this one... Cucumber is puréed in a food processor with mint leaves, green chiles, and lime, then strained and sweetened with agave nectar. White rum and sparkling water finish it off! Pair this with just about anything south-of-the-border.[/one-half][one-half-first]Tall Mango Jalapeño Fizzy Cocktail - My Food Story: Jalapeño slices are steeped in white rum for at least an hour before making this fruity cocktail with a kick... The chile infused rum is then combined with mango juice, simple syrup, and sparkling water. I'd probably skip the simple syrup and let the mango juice shine. This is another one that will pair well with spicy Mexican, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian dishes.[/one-half-first]
[one-half-first]Black-beery Whiskey Smash - Domesticate Me: You've got to go to the website, and watch the video on this one! I love it! 😆 This very creative cocktail would, of course, be great on its own. Blackberries, mint, sugar, and lemon juice get muddled together, and combined with whiskey and wheat beer. Mmmm! I would love this with an herb-y pork tenderloin roasted with fruit and potatoes. I'm not sure I can wait until Friday to try this one![/one-half-first][one-half]Fig, Bourbon, and Honey Smash - A Communal Table: You've already heard me wax poetic about my love affair with figs... This cocktail promises to please with the bourbon and figs muddled together then mixed with fresh lime juice, honey, and mint. Just add ice and top with sparkling soda. Given that it's September and pumpkins are appearing everywhere, try this cocktail with my Pumpkin Barley Risotto.
I would love to hear your thoughts! Do one or two (or more) of these cocktails tickle your fancy? They certainly do mine!