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 Red 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

Additional tips

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, etc.) and you can only choose one beer to have all night, pick a brown ale, the flavors and texture will compliment a variety of grilled 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

  • Erik says:

    Wouw, this sounds yummy to me.
    I think of makin a smoked stew of mixed grill meat.
    I thought of beef ribs, pork ribs (all belly ribs with rint) and chicken drumsticks.

    Ofcourse I’m gonna use a good BBQ-sauce and some extra ingrediënts to give it more taste and spice.

    With what would you pair this?
    I’m looking for a popular whiskey which you can buy everywhere (in Europe).
    Prefferably single malt but if you think of a blend feel free to advice me that.

    As I’m not sure all my guests will drink wiskey, I’d also like to get some advice on beer or other drinks which aren’t a mix accept for a mix with water.
    With what other drinks would you pair this meal?

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