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Cocktail companions

Unlike wine and beer, it’s not often we think about matching our cocktails with our food. It’s fair enough. Cocktails can be like a delicious dish unto themselves, full of complex and complimentary flavours finished with a beautiful flourish. But The Paddington’s cocktail master Toby Marshall (pictured below) says there are certain dishes that cocktails pair perfectly with, and that small dishes in particular are the way to go.

“Cocktails are often served cold, and a lot of cocktails are served short,” Toby explains. “So small, shared, plates are particularly good to eat with cocktails as your drink won’t go warm while you’re busy eating a larger meal.” Toby, who likes to primarily match cocktails with time of day and mood, says cocktails work particularly well with entrées and desserts as a way to balance all the elements of a greater dining experience. “You don’t want to ruin your palate at the beginning of a meal, so steer clear of anything too sweet and stick to drier style drinks like spritzers that are going to prepare your palate for dinner. Drier drinks also pair well with fatty or salty foods. And it’s often the case that smaller plates really up these elements to pack a lot of punch and really make an impression."

Salads, too, can be paired with cocktails. Toby suggests ordering something fresh and light to compliment the often fresh and light elements of a great salad, and if you’re concerned about all that alcohol going to your head, fear not! “Contrary to popular belief, cocktails need not always be high in alcohol content. With a base of fortified wine, dry sherry or something like an aged Riesling, you can have lower alcohol content without comprising of flavour.” If in doubt, ask your bartender. “We’re here to help!” Toby says. “And we’ll always find something that works.”


Want to discover why small plates are best shared over cocktails? The Paddington’s new menu of light shared plates are perfect paired with delicious cocktails. We asked Toby to match them with some of his favourite creations.

* Try the roasted cauliflower, spelt, raisins, pomegranate and almonds with The Duke. A mix of Havana Club 7yo rum, watermelon and mint that's served over rocks.

* The tomato salad, pistachio, salted onion, mint and feta is perfect with a Market Special. A delicious combination of Chivas Regal 12yo whiskey, Antica Formula, raspberry, lemon and black pepper

* For something a little unusual, order duck egg with mushrooms, pecorino and mustard leaves and pair it with a Tofino. A refreshing mix of Pegasus Bay Late Harvest riesling, manzanilla sherry and DOM Bénédictine.

* It doesn't get much fresher than a green vegetable salad with barley and sunflower seeds. Try it washed down with The Modern Gentleman. This sophisticated sip combines Chivas Regal 18yo whiskey, vermouth and Campari with apricot and coffee.

* Clam escabeche with carrots and eschallots is a perfect marriage for a High Street Spritz. A refreshing mix of Wyborowa vodka, elderflower, cucumber and prosecco.