Smoking & Drinking – Pairing Meat with Drinks & Cocktails

Pairing Your Favorite Meat with the Right Drink

Smoking Meat Geeks know all about meat. From ribs to salmon and chicken to lamb, we know the best techniques. But pairing meats and drinks is a more intricate art. Lucky for you, we aren’t just geeks, we’re artists.pairing meats and liquor

There is more to alcohol than red wine (Pinot Noir) with red meat and white wine (Chardonnay) with poultry. In fact, there is a lot more. What about beer, whiskey, bourbon?

You’ve got to mix and match flavors so each is shown to their best advantage. There is a reason margaritas are so good with spicy tacos, just as a good Scotch goes with a sweet dessert. No one wants a Pina Colada with brownies ... come to think of it, no one really wants a Pina Colada with anything, actually.

What about beer, whiskey, bourbon? 

If you’re strictly a beer man you must know there is more to it than meat and blue mountains. Although a cold rocky mountain brew is never the worst idea, just because something has been “barbecued” doesn’t mean you have to settle for watered down lite beer. There are so many other options out there that will enhance your meal.

Just like smoking is at its best when influenced by personal tastes so is drink pairing. You’ll need to play the field until you find what you like best. But there is a clear starting point. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Pairing Grilled Meat with Beer, Spirits and Wine

Smoked Meats






-Stouts: American Double Stout, Irish Dry Stout, Oatmeal Stout

- Porters: English Porter, American Porter, Baltic Porter 


Strong/Spicy Reds: Syrah, Petite Sirah, Red Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, Argentine Malbec

Grilled Beef




Whiskey / Scotch (neat)





Bold Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Malbec

Grilled Pork

Referring to grilled pork chops, roasts, etc. 





Brown Ale

English Bitter

Pale Lager


-Italian reds: Crozes-Hermitage, Chianti Classico, Valopliclla

-Pinot Noir

-Dry Riesling (trust us)

Grilled Seafood



Rye Whiskey



German Pilsner


Belgian Pale Ale

American IPA


-White Wines: Chardonnays, Muscadet, Gaia Wild Ferment, 2010 Villa Sparina Gabvi di Gavi,Caillot Bourgogne Blanc, Emilo Lustau 'Solera Reserva'

-Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Sicilian reds, Rosi Schuster Sankt Laurent

Pairing Smoked Meats

First, let's talk about the hallmark of smoking … red meats. Ribs, steaks, brisket, ... your mouth is already watering, isn't it? Well throw some on the smoker and let’s talk whiskey. American whiskey to be exact. Once cooked red meat has a beautiful smokey flavor that is also present in whiskey. There is a reason steakhouses have some of the best whiskey selection you can find. Pick out your favorite or try something new.

Another great variation is to whip up a Manhattan. Yes, you should know how to make this drink, all men (and women) should. It's one of 3 cocktails that are essential to true culinary greatness, along with the Martini and, of course, the Old Fashioned. If you don’t know how to make these, learn.

If you're strictly a beer guy then let's narrow things down. For steaks, you can’t go wrong with a stout or porter beer. The flavors will contrast with the fattiness of the meat.
For burgers, you need something altogether different. Hamburgers come with all manner of decadent flavors on top … onions, cheese, mustard. You need a beer that complements all of these flavors, and a pale ale will do the trick.

MeatGeek Winning cocktails

Best cocktail drinks for BBQ & Smoked Meats

Tom Terrific

cocktail for smoked meat Really, the Manhattan should have been the first one on this list, but my name's Tom, and the Tom Terrific is worthy of the number #1 spot. With its rare wining combination of booze and beer, here it is. 


  • Ice
  • 1.5 oz Old Tom gin
  • .5 oz Cherry Heering
  • .5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • .5 oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz chilled IPA
  • lemon wheel for coolness 


Shake everything in ice (expect for the beer and lemon wheel), strain into a glass, top off with the IPA and add your lemon wheel. 


pairing steak with cocktailA well made bold Manhattan is just what the doctor ordered. 



  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey 
  • .5 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 - 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Maraschino Cherry


  • Ice
  • 2 oz. Jim Beam Devil's Cut
  • 1 oz. Monin Agave Nectar
  • dash of chocolate bitters 
  • orange peel
  • 1 or 2 Real Maraschino Cherries


Shake everything in ice (expect for the peel and cherry/cherries), strain into a glass, add peel and cherry. Tip: instead of just tossing the orange peel into the glass at the end, rub it on the inside of the glass before you strain the drink into it.

Black Cherry Charred Citrus Old Fashioned

This spin on the traditional Old Fashion takes things to the next level. Blending mellow tones from the Bulleit bourbon with strong and bold flavors from the black cherries and charred citrus.


  • ice cubes
  • 2 oz. black cherry Bulleit bourbon
  • 2 oz. black cherry juice
  • 1 slice of seared orange
  • 2 bourbon soaked cherries 
  • 1 twist of an orange peal


Create black cherry Bulleit bourbon

Combine 1 cup frozen defrosted dark sweet cherries and 1 cup Bulleit bourbon in a clean glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for 1 day (up to 2 months).

2 Grill up the orange slices

Slice your orange slices into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place them over a hot grill (high heat) for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side. You don't want the slices sitting in the flames, just over some high heat until they are charred and smell citrusy (Is that a word?). 

Making the drink

Place the charred orange at the bottom of the glass. Top the orange with a large ice cube.

Using a shaker full of ice,  shake the following vigorously for 30 seconds: bourbon, cherry juice, cherry bitters. Strain into glass, garnish with bourbon soaked cherries and another charred orange wedge or two. 

Sangria - Grilled Citrus & Grape

alcohol to go with bbq

Get the party started! Sangria is known for its presents among social gatherings. But this Sangria won't go unnoticed Filled with grilled fruits, the smoky flavors with the full fruity flavors will be sure to impress at your next BBQ.


  • 3 cups of seedless red gapes (stems removed)
  • 2 whole oranges cut into 1/2" wheels
  • 2 lemons cut into 1/2" wheels
  • Two 750 mL bottles of rose wine
  • 8 oz. simple syrup
  • 8 oz. brandy
  • ice


Light the grill. Place grapes onto a basket or grill sheet, and place on the grill (should be high heat). Toss the grapes once or twice over the next 5 - 6 minutes. You want the grapes grilled to the point right before they are about to burst open. It may be a good idea to throw on double the amount of grapes you plan on using so you can grill them until a few start to burst, this way you are sure the other ones are just right. 

Now grill the orange and lemon wheels, same as before: high heat. Your looking for a little char so don't be quick to flip them; about 3 minutes on each side.

Pour wine,

Remember as you develop your pairings to compliment flavors and textures. If you get something that doesn’t work well, don’t be discouraged. Instead, remember now you have a reason to try and try again. Being a smoking geek sure is great. Here are a few more recommendations for a starting point in your search for pairing greatness.

If you’re smoking a chicken try a brown lager or a Sidecar. Seafood?  Martini or pilsner. Pork?  Old Fashioned or German lager.

If you are barbecuing a variety of food, chicken, sausage and all that and you can only choose one beer to have all night, pick a brown ale, the flavors and texture will compliment a variety of food.

We've giving you a solid foundation to work from; now's the time for you to step out of you comfort zone and find a pairing made in heaven. Let us know what drinks pair the best with your favorite meat

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