Food matches with cocktails over wine

Cocktails are easier to match to food than wine. Photo / Thinkstock
Cocktails are easier to match to food than wine. Photo / Thinkstock

Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge has joined a growing group who argue cocktails are easier to match to food than wine.

He says a cocktail's ingredients can be changed to match or enhance the flavours on the plate, unlike wine, which is already made.

"With a cocktail you can adjust to the actual dish," he tells AAP from his two-hatted restaurant the Four in Hand Dining Room in Sydney.

"So say you've got pork. You can have a cinnamon cocktail or a vanilla cocktail and you can match it a lot easier than wine because you can isolate flavours."

Fassnidge will see this first-hand on May 17, when he takes part in the Noosa Food and Wine Festival's Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail matching dinner.

Along with two other chefs - Wayd Bailey and Eric Pernoud - Fassnidge is creating two of the six courses for the event and its 140 guests.

Each dish will be paired with its own unique cocktail created by the world's best bartender Tim Philips - a title he earned after taking home top honours at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition in 2012.

Having previously worked at Hemmesphere, Philips now keeps busy mixing drinks at his own Sydney bar, Bulletin Place, and travelling the world to talk cocktail-making to the like-minded.

Philips isn't in the World Class competition this year, although just a few hours before the cocktail dinner, 12 bartenders will be vying for a place in the finals by mixing drinks for attendees to the festival.

Philips says the cocktail matching dinner will come with its own challenges.

"I (want to) make sure people walk away from this event going, 'wow that was incredible'. Literally an all-out assault on the senses," he says.

There's also the logistic issue of serving around 900 cocktails in one night.

Philips joked that the chefs are "slack, basically" by comparison.

"They're only doing 280 dishes each, so it's easy for them. They're just going up to Noosa for a holiday."

Fassnidge says two courses are definitely enough.

Known for his meat dishes at the Four in Hand and new venture 4Fourteen, the Irish chef says he's sticking to what he knows.

"There's no point in going and doing something I don't do and looking like an idiot," he says, adding he will be making chicken and pork for his two dishes.

Philips says the dinner is exciting because it's a step in the right direction for the future.

Cocktails are traditionally seen as a before or after dinner drink, but Philips envisages diners one day looking at a menu and ordering a main meal and a cocktail to accompany it.

"Without a shadow of a doubt," he says, adding it's already happening in places like Scandinavia.

"Restaurants in New York have water sommeliers, why shouldn't we start looking at cocktails and spirits as a way of bringing out the best in our food."

* The Noosa Food and Wine Festival runs from May 16-19. Visit noosafoodandwine.com.au for more information.

* Until April 5, you can vote for your favourite cocktail or bartender at Facebook.com/WorldClassAustralia and at worldclassbar.com

DETAILS:

- Voting in Australia is down to its top 100 bartenders

- You can vote via Facebook for your favourite bartender until April 5

- The Noosa Food and Wine Festival will select four for the finals

- A winner for Australia will be chosen in June

- Philips won the entire competition in 2012, making him Australia's and the world's best bartender


Tim Philips' World Class winning cocktail: 248 Ways To Drink Johnnie Walker

Ingredients

• Johnnie Walker Blue Label 40ml
• Sugar Syrup 5ml (choice of mandarin, raisin, clove, popcorn, cinnamon, honey, orgeat, sugar, hazelnut)
• 2 dashes bitters (choice of angostura, peychaud's, absinthe, orange, cherry chocolate)
• 2 cubes flavoured ice (choice of sweet tea, smokey tea, sherry wood tea and american oak)

Method - Stirred, served up

The serve will showcase 248 ways to have a Johnnie Walker Blue Label blended scotch whisky old fashioned. Drinkers will be asked to roll a dice, spin a roulette wheel, and pick a poker chip out of a hat to create their cocktail. The serve is inspired by Bill Murray, and the chances he has taken in his movies and his love life.

- AAP

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