Sometimes things just go together. When it comes to food and drinks, we all know the tried-and-tested pairings: white wine and fish; burgers and beer; tea and cake. They’re classics for a reason. But if you feel like having a little fun, why not (literally) mix it up?

Cocktails may seem like a “going out” drink, but in days gone by, evenings were spent winding down at home with a Martini or Whisky Sour. With a diverse range of tastes, spirits and mixers to choose from, cocktails match easily with food. It’s simply about understanding the flavours.

Andrea Gualdi, 2017 World Class Bartender of the Year, knows all about surprise combinations. Hailing from Italy, he leads the drinks team at pizzeria and cocktail bar Maybe Frank in Surry Hills. Pizza and cocktails? Not your garden-variety combo. But it works. Gualdi has once again drawn on his Italian heritage to give us food for thought, with four perfect pairings to try at home. This time, it’s all about pasta.

Spaghetti alla carbonara and Paolo Maldini

Gualdi’s creation, named after the Italian soccer legend, has a fresh zing that cuts through the creaminess of this carb-heavy dish. The punchy base of tequila and Aperol is topped with soda and citrus.

“With a carbonara you really want something refreshing and crisp like the Paolo Maldini, which is going to ‘clean’ your mouth from one bite to another and keep your palate fresh till the end of the dish,” he says.

We recommend making the traditional Roman variety of carbonara, with eggs, bacon, hard cheese and black pepper. It achieves the paradox of simplicity and decadence.

Paolo Maldini
Makes one. Approximately 1 standard drink.

25ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
25ml Aperol
Grapefruit soda
1 lime wedge
1 grapefruit wedge, for garnish

Build this cocktail in a highball glass by adding the spirits and topping with soda. Squeeze in juice from the lime wedge. Garnish with a salt rim and grapefruit wedge.

Amatriciana and Reverse Manhattan

With this type of tomato-heavy pasta, “a vermouth-based cocktail is the ideal match,” Gualdi says. “The Bulleit Rye will cut through a lot of the fattiness and mouthfeel from the guanciale (cured meat) and the pecorino, which makes this pasta very tasty.”

Reverse Manhattan
Makes one. Approximately 1.4 standard drinks.

25ml Bulleit Rye whiskey
50ml rosso vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 cherry, for garnish

Gently stir spirits and bitters over ice, then strain into a chilled coupette glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Penne four cheeses and Negroni

A top-notch comfort food, four-cheeses pasta needs a simple, spritely drink to rein it in. Enter the Negroni – designed as an aperitif, it is a fine balance of bitter, sharp, sweet and citrus. “The bitterness of the Negroni will help you enjoy and digest all the cheese in this pasta. Simply a perfect combination,” Gualdi says.

Makes one. Approximately 1.7 standard drinks.

25ml Tanqueray No. TEN gin
25ml Campari
25ml rosso vermouth
1 orange wedge, for garnish

Build by adding spirits to an Old Fashioned glass. Add ice, and stir. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Spaghetti allo scoglio and Margarita

Seafood or shellfish pasta, usually including a mixture of mussels and clams, works well with the hero of the Margarita – tequila. “Seafood is definitely a magical pairing with tequila,” Gualdi says.

Don Julio Tommy’s Margarita
Makes one. Approximately 1.6 standard drinks.

50ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
25ml fresh lime juice
15ml agave syrup (2 parts agave nectar, 1 part water)

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and mix well. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass over ice and garnish with a salt rim.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class. Drink responsibly.