It’s Sunday evening and you have a nice, thick cut of meat roasting in the oven. Conventional wisdom suggests you open a bottle of wine to go with it, but there’s no reason for it to be so. A cocktail might just be an even better partner for your hearty dinner.
With any food and drink pairing, the basic goal is to complement each. With beer or wine, you’re limited to what’s in the bottle – the flavour profile is set and there’s not a lot you can tinker with. But mixing a cocktail gives you an opportunity to be more playful – to use the cocktail not just to complement the food, but almost as a condiment.
Julian White, co-owner of Whisky & Alement and pop-up bar White Oak, is a strong believer in pairing cocktails with food. He says lighter, palate-cleansing cocktails can work well with heavy roasts. “Contrast can be really good to help people identify the characteristics you’re trying to exhibit in each,” he says.
When done really well, the cocktail should be seen as a part of the dish, not necessarily separate from it: “They should come together as something that’s greater than the sum of its parts,” says Greg Sanderson, co-owner of Melbourne’s Eau de Vie and Boilermaker House.
One of the ultimate pairings, according to Sanderson, is red meat and whisky. Angie Giannakodakis, owner of Epocha restaurant, agrees. “The slightly smoky, charcoal crust of roast beef complements the peat and smoke of whisky,” she says.
Giannakodakis has shared her restaurant’s recipe for roast beef. The secret? “Start with a happy animal. Then, make sure to rest the meat for at least 15–20 minutes after it’s cooked.” She also recommends using rump cap, because “it has a lot of flavour, but is one of the more tender cuts”.
Don’t skip on the accoutrements, either. “Yorkshire puddings are essential,” she says. “Tearing one of those open and dipping it in the pan juices is just fantastic.”
Epocha’s recipe for roast beef goes perfectly with Boilermaker House’s Mortlach whisky-based Rob Roy.
Boilermaker House’s Rob Roy
Makes one. Approximately 2 standard drinks.
50ml Mortlach Rare Old Scotch whisky
20ml sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
5ml maraschino-cherry liqueur
Stir all ingredients together over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist or a cocktail cherry.
Epocha’s Roast Beef with Baby Onions, Spring Vegetables, Radish and Yorkshire Puddings
Ingredients for the roast beef
2kg piece beef rump cap
500g baby cocktail onions
200g peas, fresh or frozen
200g podded broad beans
3 bunches heirloom carrots, scrubbed
2 bunches asparagus
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
1 bunch of baby radish, quartered
1 head radicchio, chopped
6 cloves garlic
½ bunch thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the Yorkshire puddings
4 large free-range eggs
375ml full-cream milk
1 ¼ cups plain flour
Method for the roast beef
Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Season the beef well with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Place it in a roasting tray on top of the whole baby onions, thyme and garlic. Roast at 220 degrees for 20 minutes or until well coloured, then reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 52–55 degrees (between 15–25 minutes, depending on your oven). Remove from oven and cover with tin foil. Allow to rest for at least 15–20 minutes.
To prepare the vegetables: roast carrots in the oven at 180 degrees until just tender. Cook the peas and broad beans separately in salted boiling water until just tender, then strain. Grill the asparagus until just tender.
For the Yorkshire puddings
Mix together the eggs and full cream milk until well combined. Add egg and milk mixture to flour and season. Whisk until smooth and rest in the fridge for one hour. Preheat oven to 220-degees. Place a small amount of duck fat in each muffin tin hole and place in the oven for five minutes. Stir batter then pour it into each muffin hole, almost to the top. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.
To serve, return the beef to a hot oven for three minutes to warm through. Mix the peas, broad beans, parsley, watercress, radicchio, radish and asparagus together. Dress with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the beef and serve with strained pan juices, spring vegetables, baby onions, roast carrots and hot Yorkshire puddings.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.