Its clear we love cocktails, but we also have a deep appreciation for food. So why not pair them? Wine has stolen the show in pairings for centuries. While its classic to pair red wine with beef and white with fish or poultry, where is the fun in that? Your thinking, “duh, the wine.” And we agree, but it’s old news.

While attempting to be any sort of master mixologist it is important to know a couple of guidelines. A successful cocktail and food duo needs to either have matching or contrasting flavors. Matching flavors will enhance the flavor of your meal and drink, while contrasting flavors will keep you guessing. Matchmakers should also be wary of the body of the beverage. Is it thick? Is it sweet? Is it dense? Is it sparkling? And while it shocks us to say this, it’s okay to ease up on the alcohol in order to not over do your palate. Check out these favorite liquor and food pairings and make your taste buds happy with these top-notch combos:

Tequila: The bold quality of tequila acts as a contrast to the spicy flavor in Mexican food. That explains the Margarita cravings whenever you open a jar of salsa. Yes, we get them too. But, Tequila can also be wonderfully paired with  meets like pork tenderloin, especially with spicy seasoning or a cider-glaze.

Vodka: Try a vodka martini with Salmon and Caviar and drink like the Russians do. Two harsh flavors collide– the contrast is perfection.

Rum: A Cucumber Mojito will cut the spice out of the Spicy Tuna Roll. Each bite like the first.

Whiskey:  Last but obviously not least, for a deep chocolaty dessert choose a rich brown spirit like Whiskey to enhance flavor.