Your Expert-Approved Guide To Classic Cocktail And Snack Pairings

Is there anything better than sitting at a bar in the afternoon and enjoying a daytime cocktail and a small appetizer? If you agree with this sentiment, then you need to know how to recreate this delightful feeling at home — but first, you need to know how to correctly pair cocktails with snacks. After all, an afternoon martini is practically useless if the snack you choose doesn't complement the drink well; you don't want to end up not enjoying either your cocktail or your snack.

To avoid this, Tasting Table asked an expert to tell us which snacks make the best pairings for a variety of cocktails. The expert in question is Natalie Migliarini, the content creator at BeautifulBooze. If you're a fan of many of the classic cocktails — specifically, the martini, the mojito, the whiskey sour, the Negroni, the Aperol Spritz, or the mezcal margarita — then you'll want to see which snacks Migliarini has in mind for these drinks.

Pair a martini with a plate of classic fries

First up, the martini. For a classic martini — such as a vodka martini with a twist — Migliarini suggests none other than French fries. Migliarini says, "The saltiness and fat from the fries cuts the alcohol a bit and intensifies the flavor of the martini for a perfect balanced experience. In addition, the fries are subtle in flavor and won't overpower the delicate vibes of a classic martini."

At home, you can whip up a batch of air fryer French fries for a pretty quick and easy way to get fresh fries without breaking out the deep fryer. Or if you want an alternative snack option, Migliarini suggests salt and vinegar chips for an easy, at-home pairing for the martini. While Migliarini made this suggestion with a classic martini in mind, you can also try it with a dirty martini if that's your preference. The same elements of the pairing will apply — the saltiness and fat will still balance out the flavors.

A mojito will pair best with spicy guac or ceviche

So, what about a mojito? The mojito is a refreshing, mint-infused cocktail that Migliarini describes as "lighter in flavor but if made correctly is balanced with citrus, sweet and mint." As for the preferred snack pairing, Migliarini suggests either spicy guac or spicy ceviche (with tortilla chips for dipping, of course).

She explains, "This flavor combo [of the mojito] lends itself and can stand up to spicy snacks like ceviche or guacamole with chips. The salt from the chips will intensify the citrus and mint in the drink but the spiciness of the ceviche/guacamole will pair perfectly with the earthiness of the mint balancing the spicy notes." Before making yourself a mojito, you'll first need to choose between spicy guac or ceviche — or both if you're feeling ambitious (and hungry).

You can follow Tasting Table's recipe for either crave-worthy guacamole or classic ceviche — however, both of these recipes could use a bit more spice to match Migliarini's exact recommendation. To remedy this, you can chop up jalapeños to add to either recipe. Or if you'd rather not go through the trouble of making anything, Migliarini provided an easier, at-home alternative: jalapeño kettle chips. Either way, after trying out the pairing with a classic mojito, feel free to experiment and try it out with a watermelon mojito or a mango mojito.

The whiskey sour is the perfect match for a charcuterie board

Next up, the whiskey sour. Migliarini says, "A whiskey sour combines strong notes of whiskey with citrus notes of lemon to provide a perfect balance. You need a bold snack that can stand up to the whiskey as well as something that pairs with citrus."

The obvious choice with these standards, according to Migliarini, is cheese. However, she thinks that the perfect answer actually goes beyond cheese. She says, "Overall, I think a charcuterie board with a combination of meats, cheeses, and dried fruits will work best here."

If you love building a charcuterie board, then now is your time to shine. However, if you don't want to spend the time making a whole board, you can choose just one cheese and one meat, or one cheese and your favorite type of cracker for a simpler version. Or you can scrap the idea altogether and go with Migliarini's alternative option: Chex Mix. With a mix of multiple snacks all in one bag, Chex Mix is the perfect, easy, store-bought snack to mimic a charcuterie board and enjoy with your whiskey sour.

Enjoy a Negroni with parmesan cheese

Now it's time to talk about the Negroni, the vibrantly red, strong cocktail made of just three ingredients: Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. Despite consisting of just a few ingredients, the Negroni has a complex taste — there's plenty of bitterness, plus a touch of sweetness from the vermouth, with herby and fruity notes. As it's a strong drink, when it comes to pairing it with a snack, it needs a food that also has a strong taste so that the snack doesn't get overpowered by the Negroni. Migliarini's recommendation? Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan certainly fits the bill of having a strong taste. Just like the Negroni, it also has a lot of complexity in its taste: It has notes of tanginess, nuttiness, and fruitiness and is also rich and savory. In other words, it can hold its own against the Negroni. Pair the parmesan with your favorite crackers and indulge in the complex cheese while you sip your Negroni.

Match up the Aperol Spritz with olives

Next on the list? The Aperol Spritz. The drink — consisting of prosecco, club soda, and of course, Aperol — is bright and refreshing, with plenty of citrus and herbal notes. According to Migliarini, this drink is best paired with a bowl of olives.

Olives can be bitter, salty, sweet or a mix thereof depending on the type of olive. Whichever olive type you opt for, the bitter, salty, and sweet notes will balance out nicely against the citrusy, subtly bittersweet taste of the Aperol Spritz. In fact, there are even recipe variations out there that include olive brine in the Aperol Spritz itself — a "dirty" Aperol Spritz, if you will. You can try out the olive brine-infused version, or simply enjoy the olives on the side — or both. For a happy medium, use a skewer of olives as the garnish, then eat them when you've finished the last sip of the cocktail.

The mezcal margarita should be paired with jalapeño poppers

Last but not least: the mezcal margarita. Mezcal is known for having a smokier flavor than tequila, so a mezcal margarita brings that smokiness to the classic cocktail, which is ultimately complemented by the sweetness of the liqueur. Meanwhile, when it comes to a snack pairing, Migliarini suggests jalapeño poppers.

This pairing makes perfect sense — jalapeños and margaritas go hand in hand. The spicy margarita — a margarita featuring muddled chilis and jalapeños as the garnish — is almost as popular as the classic margarita. The spiciness of jalapeños is the missing component of the smoky, sweet mezcal margarita; together, you have the perfect balance of flavors. If you love a spicy margarita, then you'll love this pairing — as will anyone who prefers to keep their jalapeños and their margaritas separate. You can easily whip up a batch of jalapeños poppers at home, either using the broiler or the air fryer.