Cocktails are À la carte. Also in the kitchen.24 May 2023
The quest of restaurateurs toward offering new taste experiences does not stop. “Food pairing,” a creative technique born from the creative contamination between chefs and bartenders, is becoming a true art, so difficult to balance, so strong in its native provocation.
– Here is the seafood you ordered. May I suggest a Franciacorta to go with it?
– No thanks. I would prefer a Mojito.
Help, are we in an overly original movie? A book they misprinted?
Not really. We are more simply in a restaurant like many others, maybe just a little more attentive to how the market is moving.
That’s right, today’s restaurant industry is increasingly geared toward expanding the gustatory experience of its customers, the same ones who are changing the out-of-home market, making the number of locations dedicated to the so-called-aperitif moment multiply. A wave that in Italy alone has seen the total number of new openings grow by 4 percent between 2020 and 2022 (NielsenIQ), with turnover at +33 percent compared to pre-pandemic.
In short, the away-from-home is becoming increasingly popular, for socializing, seeing friends, celebrating, at the bar or restaurant, but also for testing new taste experiences, both in terms of food and the alcoholic beverages offered to go with the dishes: we are talking about wine and yes, even cocktails.
Because it is easy to imagine the bartender behind the bar, juggling shakers, strainers, muddlers, and corkscrews. It’s less easy to imagine him preparing a cocktail for a chef’s menu.
So this is how the new way of gustatory pleasure was born; it is called food pairing, a creative technique born precisely from the creative contamination between chefs and bartenders, to combine flavors in unexpected but complementary ways.
This double mixing-that which pertains precisely to the world of cocktails and that of any culinary preparation-is becoming a true art, so difficult to balance, so strong in its native provocation.
If we think about it, already the international hotellerie offers all-day eating and staying formulas so that people can choose in as wide a time frame as possible an occasion for refreshment and hospitality.
Here we find mixed in traditional eating occasions, already in fact it is not unusual to find the wine list in what we traditionally called the Breakfast Menu. Soon then it will not be so unusual to find the cocktail one within the Dinner Card.
Culinary traditions and history provide guidance certainly, but modern food pairing tries unusual combinations beyond the known. The goal of food pairing is to create balance and harmony among flavors, generating new taste sen-sations and original dishes.
To make a good pairing, however, it is important to be really prepared, to evaluate various aspects, such as the chemical fami-lies of the ingredients, e.g., organic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, responsible for flavors and smells; but also the levels of acidity, the tones and intensities of the flavors, not least the preparation techniques, such as cooking, marin-ing, fermentations, and so on.
The basic principles to be followed are the same as those used by every food&beverage professional: balance, complement and magnify flavors and aromas.
Some pairings for novices? The Margarita is perfect with tacos, guacamole, nachos; the Gin Tonic with spicy tapas; the Mojito with shrimp, mussels, seafood dishes; the Martini with butter-and-for-mayo risottos; the Negroni with mixed appetizers or aged cheeses. You just have to try it.
Needless to say, the best Barchefs, as this new generation of mixologists is called, are all Italians: Dario Comini, Simone Caporale, Ago Perrone, Tato Giovannoni, Giorgio Bargiani, Maura Milia, just to name a few.
Thus Dario Comini, son of art, a three-generation, award-winning bartender mixologist and consultant to the world’s leading liquor companies:
“Food pairing is an undiscovered trend in Italy, and my goal is to make people understand that you can de-taste a cocktail not only before and after dinner but also during, creating a new gastronomic experience based on multiple flavors crossing each other. The key to everything, at least in my opinion, lies in the synergy between the kitchen and the bar: the bartender can work closely with the chefs and these two figures, together, can expand their knowledge of ingredients and techniques, while stimulating each other’s creativity.” (www.beverfood.com)
Discover the cookbook “Guide to Food Pairing 23” Click and get it for free