Pour It On! Mexican Cuisine Pairings
Every region in Mexico has its own specialties and ingredients that are versatile and can pair with a range of drinks, not just a margarita or Corona. We asked two beverage experts—agave enthusiast and bar manager Drake Perez at Lucha Cantina in Rockford, Ill., and award-winning beverage director/partner Jay Schroeder at Chicago’s Quiote and Todos Santos—to show us just how versatile drinking alongside Mexican cuisine can be.
Award-winning beverage director/partner at Chicago’s Quiote & Todos Santos
Agave enthusiast & bar manager at Lucha Cantina in Rockford, Ill.
(green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in a special batter and fried in canola oil;
originates from city of Puebla)
JS: A glass of white wine from Valle de Guadalupe like a sauvignon blanc with higher acid or bubbles to cut through that richness.
DP: A Cerveza amber ale with nice roasted malt and the bubbles will cut through the fat, but won’t overpower the sauce and clean your palate after every bite.
(a traditional Yucatán Peninsula dish of slow-roasted pork braised in citrus and achiote)
JS: An agave wheat beer—something chill, wheaty—will stay out of the way of the habanero. That’s nice, light, crisp and food friendly.
DP: I went with a pale ale. This dish is rich with the pork and the peppers, and you want something to complement the heat. The citrus hops will pair nicely with all the citrus juices in which they marinate the pork.
with serrano peppers, red onion, fresh tomatoes and cilantro
JS: Sotol, which just came into the U.S. market. (It offers) mossy, deep soil notes, but also bright and green that would bounce off guacamole.
DP: Cerveza Modelo. It’s nice, crisp, clean and malty. It’s something that will allow the guacamole to stand on its own, while it’ll also cut the heat from the serrano and the fat from the guacamole.
CHICKEN EN MOLE POBLAN
JS: I’d do a chill Mexican wine, Casa Magoni chardonnay-vermentino blend with medium acid. Mole needs to shine and the drink would play a soft, complementary role.
DP: The dish is rich and complex, and I wanted a drink that was also like that. A cocktail I created called the Spanish Harlem has Herradura añejo, Carpano Antica, Aztec chocolate bitters and orange oils expressed over top. The chocolate and orange go well with the chocolate of the mole.
verdes with crema, white onion and queso fresco
JS: Real Minero Largo mezcal has a lot of green notes, but it gives depth and contrast to go with the dish. You’re fighting the white onion that dominates the palate and this drink has a big personality. A classic mezcal margarita will fight that onion well.
DP: I’d do Mezcal Vago Elote. It’s distilled with corn, and it adds a creamy mouthfeel and you’re getting the inherent sweetness from the corn. That flavor with the crema, corn tortillas and queso fresco will pair amazingly well.