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Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 06:29 am

Dynamic Duo

This year’s tantalizing flavors aren’t exclusive to the dishes you’re preparing, but are shared by the accompanying cocktails.

A hint of peppercorns; the sweet-tart tang of a Meyer lemon. That’s right. The before-dinner drinks are headed to the dining room table. Pairing food with mixed drinks is this season’s holiday trend, according to Colin Cowie, expert on wedding and event planning.

Why cocktails and courses? “It’s fun, different and can be creative,” says Cameron Bogue, mixologist at some of New York’s finest restaurants.  It can be inspired.”  However, the goal isn’t to ply everyone with liquor, but to stimulate the senses. To accomplish this, imagine the wine that’s traditionally served with the course. Then create a cocktail to emulate the wine’s characteristics, including acidity, body and fruitiness, says Bogue, who works with chef Daniel Boulud’s establishments.

He offers an example of an appetizer of vodka- and beet-cured salmon with a little dill. If Bogue were pairing that with wine, he’d choose sauvignon blanc, which is “bright, acidic, lighter bodied and a little oak.” Then think of a cocktail that embodies those qualities. Bogue’s match is an Aviation, an elegant drink with gin, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice – and sometimes crème de violette. You can play with the recipe by adding garnishes or other spirits. Here’s the recipe:

Adapted from “The Essential Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008)

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Combine the gin, liqueur and lemon juice in a mixing glass with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serves one.

Chocolate & Cranberry Martini

If you serve cocktails with dinner, opt for champagne beforehand, says Cameron Bogue, a cocktails expert. Prepare a pitcher of cocktails or the base in advance so you’re not juggling bottles at the dinner table. Vary drink colors. Use liqueurs to tint drinks blue, green or red. Offer a variety of glass shapes. “You want them to appear different,” Bogue says.

For some added flair, try the following recipe for Chocolate and Cranberry Martini, used with permission from “Difford’s Encyclopedia of Cocktails: 2,600 Recipes” by Simon Difford (Firefly Books, 2009).


  • 2 shots Vanilla-infused Ketel One vodka
  • 1/2 shot White crème de cacao liqueur
  • 1/2 shot Noilly Prat dry vermouth
  • 1 shot Ocean Spray cranberry juice

Glass: Martini

Wipe rim with cacao liqueur and dust with cocoa powder.

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled, rimmed glass.

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