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Smoky Scotch and delicious fare: Here’s how to pair cocktails with food to enhance its flavour

Have you been wondering how to pair Scotch cocktails with food for your next party? Here are some tips and recipes that will transform your meals and add some zest to the occasion

Smoky Scotch and delicious fare:  Here’s how to pair cocktails with food to enhance its flavour

Sunday June 14, 2020,

7 min Read

Pairing food with wine has been a common practice. Traditionally, we pair red wine with red meat and white wine with leaner or white meat. But have you ever paired food with Scotch whisky?


Pairing Scotch cocktails with food can enhance its flavour

Scotch cocktails can make for a great flavour enhancer when paired with the right food.

When pairing scotch cocktails with food you just need to follow simple rules-

•         Either the cocktail must complement the flavour of the food


•         The cocktail flavours should contrast with the flavours of the food

How to get your scotch and food pairings right

  • Keep in mind that we should always choose the cocktail to enhance the flavour of our dish and not to dominate the dish.

  • Adding herbs to the cocktail helps match it to the flavours of the dish. To enhance your cocktails, you can use homemade syrups or even a fresh sprig of herb.

While pairing cocktails with food, make sure you keep the ABV% (alcohol by volume) in control as higher ABV content will have the alcohol dominating the flavours of the food and the cocktail itself.

  • Texture also plays an important role in cocktail and food pairing. Avoid pairing creamy cocktails with thick heavy curries/gravies.

Here are a few examples:

Lighter and fruity cocktails, like berry or citrus-based cocktails can be paired with either mild or spicy food. If you pair it with a mild flavoured dish, the cocktail and food enhance each other. When you pair the same with spicy food, the cocktail flavours balance the spiciness and complements the food with its lighter, fruity notes.

A peaty or smoky scotch pairs really well with a shared plate of tandoori dishes or food that is heavy on Indian spices but if you want to find a balance, the same could also complement a light refreshing salad.

Today we have paired citrusy Black & White Scotch Cocktails ‘Yes, We Cran’ & ‘Citrus Got Real’ with Chicken/Paneer Pinchos for starters and Malabar Fish Curry for mains.

The Pinchos are very mild in flavour with hints of ginger, coriander and turmeric, marinated in yoghurt which adds a bit more mildness to the dish. This dish pairs with the Black & White scotch cocktail ‘Yes we Cran’ to perfection as the cocktail brings citrus, honey and fruity notes spiked with cranberry juice adding a tangy flavour that complements the dish really well.

Here are some recipes of Scotch cocktails that can be paired with foods...

Yes, We Cran!

(Cocktail courtesy – Asmani Subramaniam, Luxury Portfolio Brand Ambassador, Diageo India)


'Yes We Cran' Cocktail


•    60 ml Black & White scotch

•    20 ml Lime Juice

•    45 ml Cranberry Juice

Garnish: Lime Wedge

Glassware: Highball or Tumbler Glass


Fill the glass with ice and add in all the ingredients, top with a bit of tonic and stir.

Chicken Pinchos: (Serves 3)

(Substitute with paneer for a vegetarian version and add pineapple and red onion.


Chicken pinchos


For the Marinade:

•         1 kg chicken tenders (or boneless, skinless breasts cut into 1-inch wide strips)

•         Plain whole milk yoghurt (of choice)

•         Juice of ½ lemon

•         2 tablespoons tomato paste

•         2 teaspoons garam masala

•         1 teaspoon garlic powder

•         ½ teaspoon onion powder

•         ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

•         ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

•         ¼ teaspoon ground coriander

•         ¼ teaspoon chilli powder

•         ¼ teaspoon black pepper

•         1 teaspoon salt

•         2 tablespoons oil

For the Sauce:

•         ¾ cup whole milk yoghurt

•         Juice of ½ lime

•         1 clove of garlic

•         1 bunch of fresh coriander (remove the bottom 2-3 inches of the stem)

•         ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

•         ½ teaspoon salt

•         1/8 teaspoon black pepper


•         Soak 8 wooden skewers in a bowl filled with water

•         Place chicken tenders in a glass bowl. Add lemon juice and plain yoghurt, stirring to coat. Place the bowl in the fridge while you mix the spices together

•         Combine the remaining ingredients (tomato paste through oil) in a small bowl. Add the spice mixture to the yoghurt coated chicken and mix well to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge while you prepare the cilantro-lime dipping sauce.

•         Place all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a blender or food processor to combine. Add salt and pepper as per taste.

•         Pre-heat the grill to medium high heat.

•         Thread the tenders on to the skewers and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through.

•         Serve with the cilantro-lime dipping sauce

The Malabar curry is full of aromatic spices and the Black & White scotch cocktail has a refreshing citrus flavour; here we opt for the second rule, where the flavours are completely contrasting and yet complement each other.

On the palate, Black & White scotch whisky has some sweetness, hint of vanilla and honey along with fruity notes and when teamed with citrus flavours of the cocktail and some carbonation, it perfectly balances out the spicy flavours in the Malabar fish curry.

Tips: Try it with a few different cocktails to experience the variation. Your palate is personal to you and once you start understanding the flavours a cocktail brings, it becomes easier to find your preference.

Citrus Got Real

(Cocktail courtesy – Asmani Subramaniam, Luxury Portfolio Brand Ambassador, Diageo India)


The right cocktail balances the spiciness and complements the taste of certain foods


•         45 ml Black & White Scotch

•         60 ml Fresh Orange Juice

•         10 ml lime juice

•         Top up with lemonade

Garnish: Kafir Lime leaf or Orange slice

Glassware: Highball or Tumbler Glass


Pour in the Black & White scotch over a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Add the fresh orange juice, lime and lemonade. Garnish with a kafir lime leaf of an orange slice.

Malabar Fish Curry

fish curry

Malabar Fish Curry


•         Fish/Prawns: 500 gm.

•         Oil: 2 tbsp.

•         Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.

•         Curry leaves: 10 pc.

•         Sliced onions: 2 nos.

•         Chopped ginger: 1 tsp.

•         Chopped garlic: 6 cloves.

•         Chopped green chillies: 2 pc.

•         Whole red chili: 2 pc.

•         Red chili powder: 1 tsp.

•         Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.

•         Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp.

•         Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp.

•         Water: 1/2 cup.

•         Chopped tomatoes: 2 pc.

•         Tamarind extract: 3 tbsp.

•         Coconut milk: 1 and a half cup.

•         Salt: to taste.

For the Tadka:

•         Ghee: 1 tablespoon.

•         Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.

•         Curry leaves: 6 pc.

•         Whole red chili: 2 pc.


•         Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves and sauté for 1 minute.

•         Add the sliced onions and sauté till they brown.

•         Add the ginger, garlic, green chillies, whole red chili and sauté.

•         Now add all the powdered spices. Sauté for 10 seconds and add the water and sauté for 1 minute.

•         Add the chopped tomatoes, tamarind and cover and let this cook for 5 minutes on a low flame.

•         Now add the coconut milk and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Check the seasoning.

•         Add the seafood and cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes till it's cooked on a low flame.

•         In a separate pan make the tadka by heating the ghee, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilli

and pour on top of the fish curry.

•        Switch off the flame and cover the curry for 5 minutes and serve hot with rice.

(Food recipes courtesy: Chef Megha Kohli)

Edited by Asha Chowdary

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)