The Cocktail & Food Pairing Report

The Cocktail & Food Pairing Report

Cocktail & food pairings that belong together

It’s official: some cocktails and food pairings are simply just meant to be. Using search data, social media trends and some expertise from Patrick Pistolesi, our master mixologist, we’ll show you how these perfect pairings match, and why they need to be on your next dinner party menu. 

cocktail food pairings

We’ve identified and ranked the most popular cocktails from around the world, analysing Google search data, TikTok and Instagram hashtags. We’ve then selected the optimum food dish to accentuate your cocktail’s flavours.
Taking the crown as the most popular cocktail is the effortlessly cool Moscow Mule, which comes as no surprise, as the versatile, vodka-based cocktail is perfect for any occasion. The refreshing drink served with a ginger beer mixer and a lime garnish is a favourite with everyone. 
Pumpkin curry with shrimp is a delicious dish to enjoy alongside a Moscow Mule, as the warming flavours of the pumpkin go hand in hand with the ginger beer in the cocktail. - Patrick
The Piña Colada emerges as the second most sought-after cocktail and is the perfect drink for complete indulgence. The rich and creamy cocktail with tropical flavours of pineapple coconut and rum is the ultimate treat for your taste buds.
Patrick tells us "A Piña Colada is always the star of the show, so it’s important when drinking a cocktail like this, you choose a food dish that doesn’t have contrasting flavours. I’d recommend a Thai coconut rice to subtly complement the coconut in your cocktail". 

The gloriously savoury drink
Bloody Mary secured its spot in third place as one of the most popular cocktails to enjoy. The cocktail is renowned for being a cure for those ‘worse for wear’ mornings, making it an ideal drink choice to accompany your brunch. 

Patrick shares, "A katsu curry is a great meal to enjoy in situ with a Bloody Mary as the variety of spices accompany each other beautifully."

The coffee-based cocktail, the Espresso Martini, takes the title of the fourth most desirable drink choice. Coffee cravers will love this cocktail with a kick that is a great after-work drink to give you that extra lift after a long day.  
A Tiramisu dessert is an ultimate addition to enjoy with an Espresso Martini, doubling up your coffee dosage, it’s a great way to finish off your meal in a flavoursome way." - Patrick

food and cocktail pairing

Whether you’re dining out or hosting dinner at home, there’s no denying that there’s always the perfect cocktail to complement your chosen dish. That’s why we have identified the most popular food dishes from around the world, according to social media views on TikTok, Instagram and Google searches and given them the perfect drink pairing. 
Our Master Mixologist, Patrick Pistoleisi, has chosen some delicious cocktails that will accentuate the flavours in these popular food dishes, making them a harmonious accompaniment.
From Neapolitan-style pizza to Chicago-style deep dish, pizza topped the table as the most popular food in the report, with full marks (30.0 out of 30.0). But which cocktail makes the perfect pairing to enjoy whilst tucking into a delicious slice? 

Patrick confirms, "The Cuba Libre cocktail, more casually known as rum and coke with lime, is a great refreshing choice to sip alongside your pizza. We’d recommend opting for a meat-topped pizza like BBQ chicken or alternatively, for vegetarians, a smoked aubergine pizza loaded with grilled cheese to complement the indulgent flavours in the dark rum." 

Sushi follows closely behind as the second most popular food to eat in our data, with a score of 29.1 out of 30.0. But which tipple complements sushi best? 

Whether you’re sampling Sashimi or can’t quite get enough of Maki rolls, Patrick says, "the Sake Martini is the ultimate cocktail to complement your meal. The acidity of the rice and the high fat content of the fish pairs perfectly with the complex botanicals found in sake."
Tacos, a Mexican dish and now a firm favourite around the world, emerged as the third most favoured dish with a score of 28.4 out of 30.0. So, what drink should you serve with your tacos? 
If you’re looking for a crisp cocktail to accompany your spicy tacos, then a Tommy’s Margarita is a great way to refresh your palette. Having lime and jalapenos in your tacos will tie in nicely with this modern twist on a classic margarita that replaces orange liqueur with agave nectar, to emphasise the flavour of the tequila. " - Patrick
Lobster found itself in fourth place on the food popularity leaderboard, with a score of 25.5 out of 30.0. Now what cocktail is worthy of being served alongside this dish?

Patrick recommends, "when indulging in the luxury of eating a lobster, or a lobster-based dish like lobster tortellini or lobster fishcakes, you need to ensure you have the right drink to accompany it and there’s no better choice than a Paloma. The sweet and light taste of lobster is balanced perfectly with the crisp and sour taste of the cocktail."

Cocktail Strenths

Analysing the spirits and tastes of a variety of flavoursome cocktails, Patrick Pistolesi highlights the most predominant alcohol used in sweet, sour, fruity, creamy and bitter cocktails. He also recommends some of his favourites to sample in each category. 

Sweet Cocktails  

Vodka was the most common spirit used in the sweet cocktails we analysed, due to its neutral and smooth flavour. Patrick recommends that if you’re looking for a sweet cocktail to serve at a dinner party, you should consider the popular Pornstar Martini, an 80s-inspired French Martini or a Moscow Mule.  
Gin emerged as the second most commonly used spirit in making sweet cocktails, due to its light botanical notes. If the guests at your cocktail party have a sweet tooth, then a classic French 75 or a crisp Gin Fizz will be crowd pleasers.   
White Rum was also a recurring spirit used in sweet cocktails due to its versatile taste and notes of vanilla or tannin. Cocktails like a Cuba Libre or a Mojito are great choices for any rum enthusiasts that enjoy a sweeter tipple. 
Hearty wholesome dishes like a lamb stew or Albondigas (a spanish meatball dish) pair beautifully with refreshing cocktails like the Mojito or Cuba Libre. " - Patrick

Sour Cocktails 

Tequila is one of the most dominant spirits in sour tasting cocktails, with its earthy flavour complementing the sour flavours of mixers or garnishes like lime. Bringing a taste of Mexico to a cocktail party, a Margarita or a Paloma is a great choice if you want to enjoy the perfect combination of tequila and lime. 
To complement your tequila-based cocktails, seafood dishes or salads that contain fresh herbs, citrus or spices pair particularly well, whilst exotic fruits like fresh watermelon can also balance the flavours." - Patrick
Whisky also appeared to be a key spirit used as the base for a variety of sour cocktails, which is due to the naturally sweet flavour of the spirit balancing out the strong and sour ingredients of its mixers perfectly. The cocktails Whiskey Sour and Sazerac are an ideal choice for whiskey connoisseurs wanting to enjoy a sour cocktail. 
Brandy, a spirit normally associated with being an after dinner digestif, also arose as being one of the main spirits used in sour cocktails. If you’re searching for brandy-based cocktails with an edge, Patrick Pistoleisi has picked out the Pisco Sour and the Sidecar as the ones to try. 
Citrus-forward cocktails are always best accompanied by seafood dishes but can also be great for cutting through heartier dishes or fattier meats. " - Patrick

Fruity Cocktails

White Rum appeared to be one of the most popular spirits used in fruity cocktails, which is unsurprising as the spirit has its own vibrant undertones. Whether you’re hosting a tiki-themed cocktail party, or you just want to indulge in a taste of paradise, then the Mai Tai and Rum Punch should be your go-to cocktails. 
If you're looking for a food dish to accompany your Mai Tai, then a spicy Asian cuisine marries up beautifully with the cocktails' fruity notes " - Patrick
Alongside being the main spirit in sweet cocktails, vodka also emerged as being a dominant spirit in fruity cocktails. It’s subtle flavour is ideal for letting the fruity flavours of a mixer like fruit juice shine through, as can be experienced with a Sex On The Beach or Woo Woo.

Creamy Cocktails  

Whiskey was also a popular spirit in creamy cocktails with many people already enjoying the pre-mixed popular drink Baileys. But if you’re wanting to expand your horizons and sample more whiskey and cream-inspired cocktails, then there’s no better place to start than with an Irish Coffee.

Patrick tells us that "an
Irish Coffee goes hand in hand with a dessert or biscotti for a flavoursome finish to a meal."

As well as being the predominant spirit in sweet and fruity cocktails, White Rum is also a popular choice for creamier cocktails. If a rum-based, creamy cocktail sounds like the tipple for you, then the Piña Colada is about to become your go-to alcoholic drink. 

Patrick says, "jerk chicken or spiced caribbean style foods are extremely complementary to the flavours of the pineapple and coconut in your
Piña Colada."

Bitter Cocktails

It’s no surprise that Campari, known for being bitter, is the main spirit used in creating a variety of sharp-tasting cocktails. Your long-awaited search for a crisp and refreshing cocktail is over, as the Americano is just that. 
Gin, with its tones of citrus and spice is also a popular spirit used as the base of bitter cocktails. There are a number of fresh and crisp cocktails to try, but Patrick Pistoleisi recommends starting with the timeless Tom Collins or the three-part cocktail, a Negroni
Bitter and campari-based cocktails make the ultimate aperitivo which is why they pair beautifully with an antipasti board filled with parma ham, salami, olives, cheese, bread and oils." - Patrick

Strong Cocktails  

Whiskey was found to be the most common spirit used in stronger cocktails, which comes as no surprise due to its high percentage and strong taste - but where do you begin when choosing a whiskey cocktail? There’s no better place to start than with a classic Old Fashioned, a sophisticated Manhattan or a Hot Toddy for the more wintry evenings. 

Patrick confirms, "stronger cocktails are typically served at the end of your meal and should be enjoyed with the addition of a dessert, chocolate or even a side of nuts."

Gin is the second most used spirit to make a stronger cocktail, usually because its flavoursome natural taste of citrus and spice is perfect to use in short cocktails that contain a minimal mixer. Some shorter gin-based tipples to try include a Dirty Martini, a Dry Martini and a Gimlet. 
Spicy foods pair best with gins that have notes of juniper and coriander, whilst Mediterranean dishes are better suited to gins that contain rosemary or have prominent herby flavours. " - Patrick

The best time of day to enjoy your favourite tipple

Time of Day for cocktails

There’s a cocktail for every occasion, whether that’s brunch with friends or a nighttime tipple to relax with after a long day. But when is the best time to enjoy your favourite cocktail?


Meeting up with friends for brunch and a side of cocktails, but wondering which tipple to choose? The champagne and orange juice cocktail Mimosa is the most popular choice to drink at brunch, closely followed by a spicy Bloody Mary and the citrusy-tasting Tequila Sunrise. 

Early Afternoon 

Sangria is the most favoured tipple to celebrate an early afternoon lunch as it’s light fruity notes and deep bold flavours of red wine complement a variety of different food dishes.  
The creamy, rum-based Piña Colada also emerged as a popular favourite with the frozen drink being a perfect refreshing drink for a hot summer’s day. 


The mid-afternoon was found to be the best time to sip on a sweet Strawberry Daiquiri, which can be enjoyed straight up without ice or even frozen. For those with more of a taste for gin-based cocktails, the mid-afternoon is also perfect for enjoying a refreshing Bramble served with plenty of crushed ice. 


A minty Mojito took the lead as the best tipple to sit back and sip in the afternoon, with its sweet, citrusy and herbal notes being the perfect combination of flavours. The Italian aperitif Aperol Spritz and the popular Mexican drink Paloma are also ever-growing in popularity and are go-to choices for many people sampling an afternoon cocktail. 

Late Afternoon 

The cocktails that need no introduction, a Margarita and a Cosmopolitan are the ultimate late-afternoon drinks that are both best served with a lime garnish. The Americano that combines Campari and sweet vermouth has also become a firm favourite to drink into the late afternoon. 

Early Evening 

If you're looking for the perfect, early evening cocktail to kick off your cocktail night or dinner party, a tangy Moscow Mule is a good place to start. You can also never go wrong with a martini, whether it’s the passion fruit-flavoured Pornstar Martini or the coffee-flavoured Espresso Martini that will give you an extra buzz before guests arrive. 


The evening is the best time to enjoy a stronger selection of cocktails like the whiskey-based-cocktails the Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Other strong tipples like the Long Island Iced Tea are also a great choice, but ensure you like the vast range of spirits including vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec and gin inside of it. 

Late Evening 

If you’re carrying on your cocktail drinking into the late evening, then there are a few key cocktails that are a must try! The tiki cocktail, the Zombie is a concoction of various rums and fruit juices that is a desirable choice if you’re a rum enthusiast. A Negroni is another popular evening tipple that will bring you a taste of Italy or finish your night with a Blue Lagoon that has a sweet and refreshing taste.