How To Pair Classic Sports Bar Foods with Cocktails

Beer and bar food are two peas in a delicious, greasy pod. But if you’re a cocktail enthusiast like us, you’re not always reaching for a brew with your loaded nachos. Luckily, liquor pairs well with even the cheesiest, crunchiest, most ketchup-drenched snacks—as long as you order right.

So we got in touch with our friends at Sweetwater Social, a subterranean cocktail lounge that also happens to be a killer sports bar with seriously delicious snackage. Here, GM Matt Friedlander discusses four bar food staples and the drinks that complement them best.

Chicken Wings + Paloma

Whether you like them spicy or mild, one thing’s for certain: crispy, juicy wings demand a refreshing beverage to cool your palate and slice through all the delicious fattiness. “As the Margarita's more sophisticated and quieter sibling, the grapefruit-and-tequila-based Paloma lends the perfect acidity and bite to cut through the spice and unctuous texture of the wings,” Friedlander says. If you’re making it at home, try a Salted Rosemary Paloma for an herb-infused sipper to complement every spicy nibble.

Cheese Fries + Old Fashioned

There are few things more satisfying than lifting a cheese fry to your lips and taking a smothered, covered bite. For Friedlander, the gooey side’s ideal mate is a perfectly made Old Fashioned. “Call me crazy, but the sweet caramel and vanilla notes of a perfectly executed Old Fashioned work wonders with salty, cheesy potato sticks,” he says. “Always reminds me of being a kid and dipping fries in my Frosty at Wendy's. Who knew our palates were so mature as youngsters?”

Burger + Beer Cocktail

“The classic pairing of a burger and a beer is classic for a reason: It works,” Friedlander says. “But elevating that pairing to a beer cocktail? Now that's genius!” He suggests adding fresh lemon juice, honey syrup and a splash of Aperol to your favorite IPA. You could also spring for a hoppy version of the classic Shandy, experiment with the types of amari you use or even get fancy with an IPA syrup. We encourage experimentation to find your perfect match.

Fish & Chips + Tom Collins

“A riff on a classic English dish deserves a classic English cocktail,” Friedlander says. “The citrus and herbaceous notes of the Tom Collins, along with the fizzy mouthfeel, are the perfect foil for fried fish and tartar sauce.” If you prefer something drier, reach for a sugar-free Gin Rickey instead.