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Pour it On!: Chef’s Cocktail Edition

Pour it On!: Chef’s Cocktail Edition

Normally “Pour it On!” features two beverage experts pairing drinks with chef-driven dishes. This time around, we’ve decided to flip the script and ask two acclaimed chefs to match cuisine with a range of cocktails. So, what do Iliana de la Vega, chef/owner of Austin, Texas, restaurant El Naranjo, and Marjorie Meek-Bradley, executive chef of Washington, D.C.’s St. Anselm, think about when presented with this challenge? Read on.

08 02 pour it on illiana de la vega

Illiana de la Vega
Chef/Owner of El Naranjo – Austin, TX


08 02 pour it on majorie meek bradley

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Executive Chef of St. Anselm – Washington, D.C.


Celery mezcal cocktail with lime, agave and aquavit

Illiana de la Vega
The basic thing: guacamole. It’s the perfect pairing. You have tequila, aquavit and celery, so why not guacamole? Instead of using chips, you can use celery to dip.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Biscuits and pimento. It’s a 50/50 butter and flour biscuit served with spicy pimento cheese. That would go really well with the celery and mezcal, which would cut through the richness of the biscuit.

Bloody Maria with reposado tequila, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and green olives/celery garnish

Illiana de la Vega
Chilaquiles, especially with green salsa with egg on top. The spiciness from the horseradish with the green salsa will balance each other.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Cream chipped beef. The acidity and savoriness would cut through the fattiness of the chipped beef sauce.

Scotch, Cynar, lemon juice, simple syrup and grapefruit bitters

Illiana de la Vega
Hamachi crudo with a little cilantro and fresh herbs and lime juice. This will go well with the grapefruit bitters and lemon juice. It’s a little acidic, but not too strong.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
This would be great with a pit beef sandwich. It has spicy horseradish and shaved beef that’s been cooked over an open pit. The Scotch and Cynar—that smoky bitter quality would pair well with grilled red meat.

Dirty vodka martini

Illiana de la Vega
With our tuna tostadas and chili paste from Oaxaca, avocado and a little mayo and it’s super good. This dish has sesame seed oil and chili paste, so it’s a little spicy and it goes well with the martini and the olive juice.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Oysters! I’m obsessed with oysters and dirty martinis. You have the salinity from the oysters, olive juice and vodka and it’s all ice cold. Salt and vodka go so well together.

Campari with fresh fennel, simple syrup and lemon juice with sparkling wine floater

Illiana de la Vega
A three-cheese pizza. It goes with the theme of the fennel and the sparkling wine. Campari is a strong aperitif, so it’s a good appetite starter.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Pepperoni pizza. I love Aperol spritz with pepperoni pizza. This drink reminds me of that. The bitter Campari, sweetness of simple syrup and fattiness of cheese pizza and pepperoni go well together.

Mint Julep twist with fresh mint, Cognac, simple syrup, water, Angostura bitters

Illiana de la Vega
Tostones—fried plantains topped with crab salad. The crab could be mixed with some herbs like mint to help pull the flavor out in the drink.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Spicy Thai green curry. The sweetness would balance the heat and the mint would bring it all together.


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