fried fish whiskey sour

Pairing Whiskey Cocktails with Fried Fish

A basket of fish and chips isn’t complete without a cold drink in hand but before you reach for a beer, you ought to remember that cocktails are an equally viable option. For help choosing the right one, we asked Robyn Smith, a PhD and founder of This Blog’s NEAT who also runs a YouTube channel and Instagram. Smith was passionate about pairing fried fish with a whiskey sour. “A classic whiskey sour, made with bourbon, lemon juice, and a touch of simple syrup, offers a refreshing acidity that cuts through the richness and greasiness of fried fish,” she told Look. The same reason we all love to squeeze a slice of lemon over our fish is the same rationale behind reaching for a whiskey sour and Smith pinpoints the exact flavor dichotomy that makes this pairing so timeless.

Fried fish is delicious and bold but that comes with a heaviness that can weigh the meal down as a whole. Citric acidity lends a brightness to the meal that successfully mitigates the denser elements. Of course, you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can sprinkle lemon juice over the basket of fish with one hand and sip your whiskey sour in the other. Just make sure to follow the 3-2-1 rule for a perfectly balanced whiskey sour: Three parts spirit, two parts sour, and one part sweet.

Dos and don’ts of experimenting with your whiskey sour

whiskey sour cocktail

If you ask a decently talented bartender what the best way to make a whiskey sour is, there’s a good chance they’re going to tell you the recipe should include egg white. For people who don’t mix cocktails personally, that can seem like an unusual ingredient but there’s a good reason for it. “Some recipes call for adding egg white to give the sour a frothy texture,” Smith explained. There are several alternatives to egg white for adding a creamy foam to cocktails, but even with the alternatives, Smith was skeptical about their use here. “I think it may add too much body to pair with fried fish. You want to keep the cocktail light.” You’re already getting a lot of body and richness from the oil involved with fried fish so you won’t be missing much in terms of body by opting out.

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But just because you shouldn’t spruce your cocktail up with a little creamy egg white doesn’t mean you can’t elevate your whiskey sour with other innovative ingredients. “If you’re feeling a little adventurous,” Smith went on. “Sub a corn whiskey like Mellow Corn or even Kings County Moonshine for the bourbon.” The beauty of learning how to sling cocktails yourself is you get the creative freedom to make exactly the drink you’re looking for. No more middlemen or guesswork.

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