Now in the full swing of summer, a refreshing cocktail often is a perfect antidote at the end of a hot day. Because of the endless variations that can be created, cocktails can be perfectly crafted to pair with almost any meal.
Kelly Radke has served as a bartender in the Rochester area some thirty years now. These days, you can find her at Terza and La Vetta.
During her time in this profession, a significant development has been the appearance of a wide variety of flavors in booze. “The sky’s the limit as to what you can concoct these days,” she says. When it comes to food pairing, she notes that ideally the beverage should either match or contrast the flavors of the dish.
Radke notes that herbs are an excellent way to bond cocktails with food. Sometimes even just a sprig as garnish provides the aromatic touch you need. Also, a refreshing cocktail can be perfect with spicy foods.
Strange as it sounds, to complete the perfect pairing, pay attention to mouthfeel of the mixed drink. Yes, even beverages have texture.
Radke encourages “a bit of close perusal” on the part of the consumer when it comes to ordering cocktails. Too often she observes patrons catching the name of a cocktail without taking time to read the ingredients. This can be risky! The Blood Orange Margarita on La Vetta’s menu uses mezcal, which carries very smoky notes that may surprise someone looking for the sweetness of a traditional margarita.
When it comes to bartending, Radke compares her options to that of a chef’s. She views the variety of liqueurs and spirits, available to her, as “a pantry full of liquid which parallels the kitchen pantry chefs work from.”