Because it is such a widely accepted tradition, people are often afraid of serving something other than white wine with seafood. For those who do try something a little different, vodka immediately comes to mind. But why not try cocktails? Seafood can be enhanced with cocktail pairings if you consider the spices, sauces, and preparation method of a dish.
Japanese whiskey pairs well with lobster and prawns, for example; the natural saltiness of seafood, along with soy sauce and ginger, marry well together.
Gin can also be a good option; some have up to 47 different botanicals. Those with strong juniper notes work well with bold flavors, such as smoked salmon with dill.
For spicy fish dishes, which include jalapeño, serrano, and poblano peppers, or hot chilies in general, I often recommend mescal, tequila, or cachaça with a twist of tropical fruit such as fresh lime and/or mango to refresh the palate. It’s a good foil to the spiciness.
The most important thing is to take a step back and envision the dish and then begin to create a cocktail that melds with it.
Here are a few of my favorite cocktails and associated fish pairings offered at Arola, at Hotel Arts Barcelona.
Bloody Mary al Flamenco
- 1 1/2 ounce vodka
- 1/2 ounce amontillado sherry
- 3 ounces tomato juice
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes Tabasco
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Garnish with salted rim. (Optional upgrade: squid ink-salted rim and olive pearls.)
Pair with a “Boquerón frito” (fried anchovy).
Sure to please is our Honey B cocktail, which can be crafted simply or in varying levels of difficulty, depending on your level of expertise. This cocktail goes smashingly with smoked oysters. We source ours from Delta de I’Ebre al Natural.
- 1 1/2 ounce white tea-infused Silver Tequila
- 1 ounce chamomile honey
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 1/2 ounce egg white
- 2 dashes of chocolate bitters
Garnish if possible with organic bee pollen and/or chamomile flowers on top.
For the Tequila Infusion:
Easy as pie! 25 grams of white tea into a glass jar with your silver tequila of choice. Let sit for 60–75 minutes, then strain off back into bottle.
For the Chamomile Honey:
Smooth as honey! Take 1 cup of hot water, add 1 tea bag of chamomile tea. Let sit for 5 minutes then strain into 1 cup of organic honey. Stir for 2 minutes and let dissolve. Then place into a glass jar and store in the fridge.
Lime and Lemon:
Lime is great with tequila, and in a pinch lemon could work as well. Try to use fresh lemon or lime as it will affect your cocktail.
Like in most cocktails, egg whites are used for texture purposes. I prefer to use organic egg whites, as its important to me to serve locally sourced, quality products.
What’s not to love about bitters? Bitters are crucial for many cocktails, just as a sauce is to a finishing dish. If you’re a cocktail aficionado, and have many ingredients on hand, chocolate mole bitters make it a bit spicier and more exotic.
Our last savory pairing is a refreshing mocktail. I pair Bee Aware with chef Sergi Arola’s signature Bocata de Calamari (calamari sandwich.) The floral notes and acidity of the cocktail refresh the palate and cut through the lemon mayonnaise in the sandwich. Try pairing Bee Aware with lemon-seasoned fish or calamari at home.
I decided to create both a cocktail and mocktail using honey to bring awareness to our vanishing bees. It is baffling to even begin to think what would happen without our busy honeybees pollinating our plants. Many of the foods we love would vanish.
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 3/4 ounce organic chamomile honey
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 2 ounces soda
Optional: garnish with honey foam and organic bee pollen if available.
The Pumpkin Patch, I am humbled to say, won Spain’s best cocktail in the Essence Century Competition 2015! It’s a great way to enjoy a taste of autumn for visitors who stay at Hotel Arts in the fall. It pairs gracefully with poached pears with winter spices and ginger ice cream.
- 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
- 3/4 ounce pumpkin puree
- 1/2 ounce lime
- pinch of black pepper
- 1–2 drops of truffle oil
Shake cocktail and double strain.
Hotel Arts Barcelona’s head mixologist Diego Baud was awarded most creative barman at the 2015 Essence Century Cocktail Competition held in Spain. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Baud considers himself Spanish at heart. Having been in the restaurant industry 13 years and traveled to over 30 countries, his inventive cocktails are globally inspired.
Travelers staying at the five-star Hotel Arts Barcelona in Spain can find Baud behind the bar at Arola Restaurant. The signature Barcelona for Tapas Lovers experience, which features him in a live mixology show, is available for foodie travelers to book through Dec. 31, 2016.