Drink and Appetizer Pairings for the Ultimate Cocktail Party

Messina's drink and appetizer pairing

It’s no secret that an open bar will add to the festivities for any catered event or a wedding. Sure, Uncle Bob is prone to Maker’s Mark and ginger ale, or your corporate guests might order a Moscow Mule because it’s trendy, but offering a limited drink menu that pairs each with a specific appetizer or heavy hors d’oeuvres can add a memorable culinary touch to your next gathering.

At Messina’s Catering & Events, we’ve seen our clients moving towards more passed items from the large-scale presentations of the past. And what goes better with passed, bite-size apps than a thoughtfully curated cocktail to complement.

We’ve been helping our clients host the ultimate cocktail parties since 1961. We’re happy these chic events have made a comeback in a big way because they can add a memorable touch to an event while at the same time keeping your event budget in check. Here are some of our favorite drink and appetizer pairings for the perfectly tasteful cocktail and appetizer-centric event.

The Perfect Pairings from the Messina’s Catering Menu

Lavender Lemonade Mojitos with Goat Cheese and Shrimp Crepes
Our goat cheese and shrimp crepes are a mouthwatering hit. Small servings of this inventive cocktail, made with light rum, water, lemon juice, mint, and lavender simple syrup, are the perfect foil to these light, airy crepes.

craft cocktail

The Blushing Bride and Mini Fruit and Cheese Skewers
The Blushing Bride is ideal for a wedding shower or mid-day reception. It is a festive blend of champagne, peach schnapps, and grenadine. It’s a light, vegan-friendly crowd-pleaser when we serve this with something rich and simple, like wedges of brie cheese with grapes or melon.

Whiskey Lemonade with Three Cheese Andouille Macaroni and Cheese Bites
The bourbon, lemonade, and honey pair exceptionally well with buttery, decadent mac and cheese bites with savory notes of a New Orleans classic-Andouille sausage. It’s sweet heat that’s a true nod to southern comfort food.

Moscow Mule with California Roll Sushi Poppers
We typically enjoy sushi with a side of ginger, so why not drink it instead? Moscow Mules, made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice, are an effervescent cocktail that complements just about any sushi popper.

Aperol Tangerine Cocktail with Coconut-Crusted Gulf Shrimp and Spicy Apricot Sauce                      Aperol is a bitter Italian apéritif made with gentian rhubarb, cinchona and has a beautiful orange hue. When mixed with vodka, orange juice, tangerine syrup, and lime juice, it is the perfect taste combination when served with sweet and savory shrimp appetizers that offer a hint of fruit in their finishing sauces or glazes.

Old Fashioned with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
We probably had you at bourbon and bacon. An Old Fashioned contains bourbon, bitters, a sugar cube, and water. The salty, fatty goodness of the bacon not only plays off the savory flavor of the scallops but also complements the sweetness of the sugar cube and bourbon.

Messina's bacon wrapped scallops

Creamy Coconut Margarita with Our Chef-Inspired Grit Spoons
We elevate the typical Mexican fare by starting with a base of cornbread adorned with cheddar jack cheese, corn, jalapeno, and smoked Gouda served in a single-serve spoon. It’s heavenly when washed down with a decadent creamy coconut margarita.

Pomegranate Lemon Drop Martinis and Grilled Beef Tenderloin Bites Over Mushroom Duxelles with Red Onion Jam
Yes, it’s a mouthful to say, but they go together like peas and carrots. A long-time favorite on our catering menu, our grilled beef tenderloin bites a time-honored taste sensation when served with the new-fangled tangy effervescence of a pomegranate lemon drop martini.

Champagne and Fresh Oysters
Another New Orleans staple, fresh oysters pair remarkably well with fine champagne. New research from the University of Copenhagen explains that these two foods contain complementary sets of umami flavors that act synergistically to enhance taste and work together in perfect harmony.

Messina's champagne and oysters

Tips from a Top New Orleans Caterer

When hosting a drink-appetizer pairing event, here are some of our tried-and-true rules:

Watch Alcohol Content
Cocktails can contain significantly more alcohol than beer and wine. If multi-course pairings are on your catering menu, keep servings small at around two to three ounces each and sprinkle in some lower-proof drinks with a high concentration of nonalcoholic mixers. Opt for petite old-fashioned glasses instead of stemware or highball glasses.

Mix in Some Wine and Beer
A shooter of a lager pairs beautifully with our mini crawfish pie and lightens the alcohol content for that specific pass-through. Whether cheeseburgers or pulled pork, mini sliders also go well with craft beer, while red wine pairs exceptionally well with chocolate-based desserts.

Ask a Chef
When in doubt, ask one of our chefs to help your pair your favorite cocktails with variations available in our a la carte catering menu. Together, you can come up with a variety that matches your taste buds, food preferences, and catering budget.

We Can Help Craft the Perfect Cocktail-Appetizer Pairings Menu for Your Next Catered Event

We can also guide you in considering the venue and structure of your event and recommend the perfect menu items to complement it. At Messina’s Catering & Events, we have six decades of experience preparing and presenting visually and culinarily appealing food and serving craft cocktails and fine spirits, so let us take the guesswork out of your next culinary adventure.