Even pantry items pair better with certain cocktails. Photos by Angie Bryan

In what quickly became my most-commented-upon Facebook post ever, I asked my Facebook friends which stockpile ingredients they would most like to have a cocktail pairing for. I received so many responses that this may have to be a multi-part series. For now, however, I present the following “stocktail menu:”

Baked beans: Baked beans need maple and bourbon, so I recommend a drink I call the Mainehattan: a Manhattan with no more than a teaspoon of good quality maple syrup mixed in to smooth it out.

Beef jerky: Bloody Mary, ideally made with Absolut Peppar vodka.

Chili: The LAST thing you want to do right now is eat something that will make you go through an excessive amount of toilet paper. Back away from the chili and choose something else!

Chips and salsa: Margarita, of course.

Entire tub of cake frosting: If you’ve gotten to the point where this is your meal, does it really matter whether your cocktail perfectly pairs with it? Just embrace the new you and drink directly from a bottle of Mozart chocolate liqueur.

Graham crackers: Crush them up and use them as the rim garnish on a s’more-tini. You can find recipes for s’more-tinis online; the key ingredients tend to be chocolate liqueur, some heavy cream or half & half or milk, and vodka. I personally vote for Smirnoff marshmallow vodka, or you can create your own marshmallow-infused vodka by soaking some marshmallows in vodka for a few days. Toast a marshmallow or two, thread them onto a skewer, and balance the skewer on top of the glass for a tasty and impressive garnish.

The adult PB&J is particularly tasty after a long day of home-schooling.

Home-schooling-induced despair: The adult PB&J: two parts Skrewball peanut butter whiskey to one part Chambord raspberry liqueur. It’s a liquid version of the childhood classic. For maximum nostalgic effect, serve in a sippy cup.

Oatmeal: It’s technically not a cocktail, but once you try Bailey’s on your oatmeal instead of milk, your mornings will dramatically improve.

Pepperoni pizza: Possibly my favorite pairing on this list, the Negroni (not just because Negroni rhymes with pepperoni, although that is a sweet bonus). I wish I could claim credit for discovering this pairing, but somebody else introduced it to me. The way the salty cured pepperoni interacts with the bitterness of the Negroni makes me swoon every time.

Rice and beans: I love mango with rice and beans, so my top choice is the Mango Tango: three parts mango nectar/juice, two parts mango vodka or mango rum, and one part watermelon liqueur, a key ingredient that cuts the sweetness of the mango without overwhelming the drink with watermelon flavor. Some people like to add fresh lime juice, but I prefer it without. In other words, they are wrong.

Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies: Crush them up and use as the rim garnish for a classic Grasshopper cocktail: one part crème de menthe liqueur (the green-colored version), one part crème de cacao chocolate liqueur (the clear version, NOT the brown version, unless you want your cocktail to have a very unappealing color … don’t ask me how I know this), and one part heavy cream, half & half or milk.

Those mysterious freezer-burned items that you swore you’d remember and therefore did not label: This all-too-common situation calls for a drink as arrogant and cocky as you were when you tossed that item in the freezer in the first place. I propose the Turkey Dew: Wild Turkey and Mountain Dew, the redneck version of a whiskey sour.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.


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