Seafood and Liquor Pairings
You may already know white wine pairs well with seafood. The question is – what liquor goes with seafood? If you usually avoid serving liquor with your meals, it’s understandable. Spirits are high in alcohol and can overpower a dish. Although liquor may be trickier to pair with food than wine, it is not impossible. Spicy spirits like gin or vodka can be delicious with seafood, and as a bonus, help get the conversation rolling.
- Best Lobster Cocktails & Drink Pairings
- Best Crab Cocktails & Drink Pairings
- Best Oyster Cocktails & Drink Pairings
- Best Shrimp Cocktails & Drink Pairings
- Best Seafood Wine Pairings
- Best Seafood Soup Cocktails & Drink Pairings
You might serve liquor in cocktail form, which helps tone down a high alcohol content and provides an opportunity to add more flavor to a meal. Cocktails often look as fun as they taste, too – perfect for setting a festive mood. In this post, we’ll provide liquor pairing ideas for a variety of seafood dishes, and we’ll also suggest beer and wine pairings for those who prefer less intense beverages. Either way, we hope to inspire you to dust off your shaker, crack open a beer or pop the cork next time you serve treasures from the sea.
Lobster drink pairings revolve around lobster’s sweet, briny flavor and its preparation. One way to eat lobster is to dunk the meat in a pool of butter. A neutral spirit like gin adds a touch of citrusy flavor to a buttery lobster dish, which helps cut through the fat and balance the sweetness.
You might also try cognac, which is distilled from wine, and pairs well with shellfish and lobster claws. Cognac brings smooth fruity flavors to the table and is an excellent choice for a surf-and-turf meal. If you’re nervous about drinking cognac with lobster, take it for a test run first by mixing iced cognac with ginger ale.
If you prefer cocktails over straight liquor, here are some recommendations that pair well with a lobster dinner.
1. Natalie’s Swizzle
Chefs and bartenders at Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn recommend trying their Natalie’s Swizzle cocktail with your next lobster boil. To make this bright, spicy cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 ounce of dark rum
- 1 ounce of Drambuie
- 1 ounce of lime juice
- 1/2 ounce of ginger syrup
- 3 dashes of Chinese bitters
- 6 to 8 mint leaves
- 10 dashes of Coastal Root bitters
- 10 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
To make Natalie’s Swizzle, mix the first six ingredients in a Collins glass and fill it with crushed ice. Stir the cocktail until it’s cold and top it with more crushed ice. Add the bitters and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve this Maine-made cocktail to guests next time you offer fresh Maine lobster.
2. Lobster Bloody Mary
What could go better with succulent lobster meat than more lobster meat? When your order our fresh, cooked lobster meat, you’ll find juices left in the bottom of the bag. Here’s a way to use those juices and impress guests with a mouthwatering cocktail. To make two servings of our Lobster Bloody Mary, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of seafood seasoning
- 3 ounces of vodka
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt
- 2 tablespoons of pickle juice
- 1 half lemon
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 6 ounces of tomato juice
- 5 to 10 drops of hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons of prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons of juice from cooked fresh lobster meat
- Two 12-ounce glasses
You can combine the following ingredients for a showstopping garnish:
- Bamboo skewers
- Swizzle sticks
- Cooked lobster meat
- Celery stalks
- Cucumber spears
- Pickle spears
- Lemon slices
To get started, place the seafood seasoning on a plate or bowl and set it aside. Squeeze lemon juice around the rim of each glass with the lemon half, and dip each glass into the seasoning. Fill the glasses with ice.
Pour the vodka, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, horseradish, lemon juice, tomato juice, pickle juice and lobster juice in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake for about a minute or until the shaker is cold. Pour the mixture between the two glasses and garnish. Serve immediately to thirsty friends.
3. Beech Hill
Are you planning on serving classic Maine lobster rolls for dinner? You’ll want to give this blueberry-inspired cocktail a shot. Another suggestion from Natalie’s, the Beech Hill cocktail is named after the Beech Hill Preserve and is sure to lift your spirits. To make Beech Hill, you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 ounces of Bols Genever
- 1/2 ounce of Domaine de Canton
- 3/4 ounce of lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce of maple syrup
- 10 blueberries
- 2 basil leaves
To make Beech Hill, mix the blueberries and basil in a cocktail shaker. Add the Bols Genever, Domaine de Canton, lemon, maple syrup and ice, then shake. Strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a basil sprig.
The Bamboo is a recommendation from Darryl Chan, head bartender at Bar Pleiades in New York, as a versatile cocktail that goes great with seafood. To make Chan’s Bamboo, you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 ounces of Dolin Dry Vermouth
- 1 1/2 ounces of Lustau Los Arcos Dry Amontillado sherry
- 2 dashes of orange bitters
- 1 dash of lemon bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve this refreshing cocktail with lobster or any seafood dish you’re craving.
5. Belgian Tripel
If you prefer beer over cocktails, you have many tasty pairing options. One option is to pair a lobster dinner with a Belgian tripel, a bright, peppery beer that can season lobster like a pinch of spice. Consider trying Tripel from Allagash Brewing Company with your next lobster feast. Other beer styles that add a lemony brightness to lobster’s lush flavors include hefeweizens or Belgian witbiers.
Sailors sip rum for more than a dose of courage – it tastes great with crabs. A sweet white rum works well in cocktails served alongside tender, slightly sweet crab. On its own, rum may overpower a delicate crab dish. However, a rum cocktail can enhance crab’s succulent flavor. You might also try pairing crab with gin, which adds a burst of citrus to a dish. Round up your best buddies and serve them the following drinks with crab, and you’ll have friends for life.
A mojito and seafood make a lovely match, especially if your seafood of choice is crab. It’s hard not to love a soft golden crab cake in the first place. Imagine serving crab cakes with a cocktail that makes the flavors playfully dance. Try this easy classic mojito recipe to intensify a crab dish with hints of lime, mint and subtly sweet rum:
- 2 ounces of quality light rum
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 6 to 8 mint leaves
- Splash of club soda
- 1 lime, cut in half
- Mint sprig
To make a mojito, place the sugar, mint leaves and club soda in a highball glass. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Squeeze the lime juice from both halves and drop one half of the lime into the glass. Add the rum and stir. Fill the glass with ice cubes and club soda, and garnish with the mint spring. Enjoy this cooling cocktail with crab and imagine relaxing on the beach.
A refreshing, citrusy gimlet made with lime and floral gin makes another tasty choice for a crab-centric meal and is extremely easy to make. Try this fun Cucumber Basil Gimlet recipe from Craft and Cocktails for a bright green drink with satisfying flavor:
- 4 ounces of floral gin, like St. George Terroir Gin
- 1 ounce of fresh lime juice
- 18 basil leaves
- 1 cup of cucumber, chopped
- 1 ounce of simple syrup
To make this gimlet, place the gin, lime juice and basil leaves into a blender. Blend on low to mix the ingredients, then switch to high. Add the chopped cucumber and the syrup and blend. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a cucumber ribbon and basil leaf.
3. Belgian-Style Saison
If you want to pair crab with beer, try a spicy Belgian-style saison to balance the sweetness of crab meat and cut through the fat of butter-dipped crab chunks. If you’re serving a garlicky crab dish, serve an American-style India pale ale (IPA). An American IPA cleans the palate between bites and adds pleasant contrast with herbal notes and citrus flavors.
Oysters are more flexible than other seafood varieties when it comes to alcohol pairings. You can go light or dark with drinks because of oysters’ brackish, mildly sweet flavor. For example, you might enjoy the sweetness of bourbon with a salty oyster. If you serve fried oysters with a flavorful dipping sauce, you can pair the dish with a bold bourbon. A simple gin and tonic cocktail also makes a yummy oyster companion. Although there are dozens of ways to enjoy oysters with liquor, wine or beer, here are some ideas worth trying.
1. Hemingway Daiquiri
The Hemingway Daiquiri complements the slight sweetness and sea-saltiness of an oyster with bright, sugary flavors. You’re sure to discover why Ernest Hemingway loved this concoction, especially if you serve it with brackish delicacies. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- 2 ounces of white rum
- 3/4 ounce of fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 ounce of maraschino liqueur
To make this drink, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the ingredients and shake. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
2. Bee’s Knees
Ready to travel with friends to the 1920s when people used the phrase “bee’s knees”? This simple, refreshing cocktail makes an oyster shine and helps get the party started. Try this classic Bee’s Knees Cocktail, where you’ll make honey syrup and mix it with just a few ingredients. For the syrup, you’ll need:
- 1 cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of hot water
To make the cocktail, you’ll need:
- 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice
- 2 ounces of gin
- 3/4 ounce of honey syrup
First, make the honey syrup by combining the honey and hot water in a container and stirring well. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and ice, and shake. Strain into a glass and feel your taste buds buzz.
You may think a dark stout would be too heavy to pair with a plate of oysters. However, a toasty, malty stout enhances an oyster’s briny flavor. Next time you eat oysters, pair them with stout for a pleasant surprise, or try Twin Village Farmhouse Oyster Stout from Oxford Brewing Company, which they brew with jumbo oysters from the Damariscotta River.
What Drinks Go Well With Shrimp?
Like other seafood items on this list, gin goes well with the briny sweetness of shrimp. You have many options when it comes to finding a gin cocktail you can enjoy with shrimp. Consider how you prepare the shrimp and how you want to play with flavors. Let’s look at a few recommendations.
1. Gin Martini
- 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth
- 2 1/2 ounces of gin
- Olives or lemon twists
- 1 dash of Angostura or orange bitters, optional
To make a gin martini, fill a mixing glass with ice and combine the vermouth and gin. Stir the mixture for 30 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a cold glass and add a dash of bitters if desired. Garnish with a lemon twist or olives and enjoy with friends, shrimp and conversation.
2. Cucumber Gin Cocktail
On a hot summer day, or to remember hot summer days in the middle of winter, serve shrimp with colorful, thirst-quenching cucumber gin cocktails. To get started, you’ll need:
- 1 English seedless cucumber
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 teaspoons of raw sugar
- 4 lemon wheels
- 4 ounces of gin
- 1 ounce of fresh lime juice
- Club soda
To make a cucumber gin cocktail, first shave ribbons from the cucumber with a vegetable peeler and set them aside. Cut a four-inch piece of remaining cucumber and chop. Mix the chopped cucumber with kaffir lime leaves, sugar and two lemon slices in a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and lime juice and fill the shaker with ice. Shake for about 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into two Collins glasses full of ice. Add club soda, stir and garnish with cucumber ribbons and lemon wheels.
German wheat beer, or weissbier, brings shrimp to life with invigorating spicy flavor. Try Spinnaker, a refreshing, zesty and sweet hefeweizen from Rising Tide Brewing.
What if you’re having a creamy, flavorful soup like clam chowder? Wouldn’t a cocktail be too acidic? Not necessarily. For instance, if you’re going to serve up a bowl of velvety lobster bisque, you might also serve a Rhubarb Smash, which will wash the creaminess of the soup from the palate. Here’s what you’ll need to make this cocktail recommended by Natalie’s:
- 1 1/2 ounces of Aperol
- 1 ounce of dark rum
- 1 ounce of lime juice
- 1 brown sugar cube
- 1/4 simple syrup
- Rhubarb, 2-inch slices
- Club soda
To make a Rhubarb Smash, mix rhubarb, the brown sugar cube and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add Aperol, dark rum, lime and ice, then shake. Strain the cocktail into a Collins glass over ice and top each one with club soda. Enjoy with lobster bisque or another creamy seafood soup.
Wine is a classic choice for accompanying seafood. If you have any doubt about a seafood and liquor pairing, go with dry white wine or Champagne. Certain types of red wines work with particular seafood dishes as well. Let’s explore a few wine pairing options that are sure to please.
1. Red Wine
People typically avoid pairing red wine with seafood in fear it will overpower a delicate dish. However, sometimes red wine and seafood work well together. In general, a dry light red wine like rosé or spicy pinot noir taste delicious with white fish and seafood. Cellardoor Winery recommends pairing their pinot noir with bacon-wrapped scallops.
2. White Wine
White wine is the go-to choice for pairing with seafood. Similar to a squeeze of lemon, dry white wine adds splashes of citrus and a bit of sweetness to buttery, briny seafood. It also cleanses the palate to make each bite taste like new. Whether you plan to eat mussels, clams, lobster, scallops or crabs, you can’t go wrong with white wine. Choose from any of the following wines for a flavorful dining experience:
- Chenin blanc
- Pinot grigio
- Sauvignon blanc
3. Sparkling Wine
The satisfying cleansing bubbles in sparkling wine make it go well with just about anything, and the acidity lifts buttery, creamy flavors. You can pair sparkling wine with everything from lobster mac and cheese to a smoky seafood dip. Try Champagne to balance sweet with salty in creamy or smoked dishes. Or, enjoy the notes of apple and pear in prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, alongside spicy seafood dishes and sides. No matter what type of sparkling wine you choose, it’ll be hard not to relish the taste and texture when paired with seafood.
Benefits of Pairing the Best Cocktail, Wine or Beer With Seafood
Why bother pairing drinks with a seafood dish? Although a glass of water will suffice if you only want to quench your thirst, there are several benefits to choosing the right beverage for your meal. Here are a few reasons it’s worth it to shake and stir.
1. It Makes Food Taste Better
Think about the last time you ate warm homemade chocolate chip cookies. Did you kick yourself when you realized you forgot to pick up milk? Or how about the last time you had French fries? Did the salty, fried potato sticks make you long for a cold, creamy milkshake? It’s likely you’ve been pairing drinks with food for a long time, even if you didn’t realize it. Matching a drink with food is no different than adding seasoning or sauce to a meal. The right beverage has the power to bring out the flavors of a dish and makes a meal taste even better.
Similarly, the wrong drink can reduce the quality of a meal. Think of eating brownies while drinking orange juice. The question, then, is why not make a meal better by pairing it with a drink that complements the flavors?
2. It’s Fun
Besides adding to a jovial atmosphere, it’s fun to taste different drinks and see what works. Don’t be afraid to play with flavors and discover what you like putting together. You can even have a tasting party and try a variety of wines or spirits paired with different dishes. Ask yourself what tastes best with varying dishes of seafood or appetizers, and what doesn’t mix so well. After experimenting, you’re sure to find a winner.
3. It’s Easy
If you’re serving steamed lobster or seared scallops, you might be wondering what sides you can make and have ready before guests arrive. If you have bottles of white wine, Champagne or festive cocktails on hand and ready to go, you can relax. Beverage pairing is an easy way to turn any meal into an elegant occasion in a flash. Many cocktails are easy to make, and wine only requires a corkscrew and some glasses. Overall, pairing drinks with food is a simple way to enhance the flavors of a meal – no culinary training required.
Buy Seafood at Maine Lobster Now
Are you excited to practice pairing drinks with seafood? Let us help you get started at Maine Lobster Now. Whether you wish to host a beer and crab cookout or a romantic lobster dinner, we have the delicious, fresh seafood you need to pair with cocktails, wine or beer. All our products ship overnight in insulated packaging from Maine and come with easy instructions to make preparation a cinch. Order delicious seafood from Maine today, or feel free to contact us for more information!