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Discover the Perfect Drink to Pair with Steak

Whether visiting your favorite steakhouse or throwing down on the grill at home, sometimes the best part of enjoying a well-cooked steak is finding the perfect drink to enjoy with it. 

The most obvious answer is a full-bodied red wine, but plenty of other refreshing libations can enhance your steak dinner, from malted whiskey to club soda. The key to deciding is to find an equilibrium between the richness and flavors of both components, so they complement each other instead of competing. 

To help you transform your next steak night into a memorable culinary experience, I’ve compiled my recommendations for what to drink with steak. 


Whiskey

I always approach my whiskey and steak pairings with fat content in mind.

Barman pouring whiskey whiskey glass beautiful night

The spirit has such boldness and complexity that it can easily overwhelm the palate, so the meat has to have a certain robustness to stack up to it. 

A peppery and complex peated scotch– think Oban14 or Compass Box’s The Peat Monster– is the most natural pairing for well-marbled cuts like ribeye because of its malted smokiness. 

With leaner cuts, like round and top sirloin, I prefer something with a bit of nuance.

The lower fat content doesn’t compete with the undertones of honey and vanilla in bourbons like Old Forester and Four Roses


Wine

Tannin-rich red wine is the quintessential steak pairing, particularly a bold, jammy Cabernet Sauvignon or a chocolatey, decadent Merlot.

Pouring white wine into the glass against wooden table

Both have full bodies that stand up beautifully to fatty cuts like ribeye

While I love a nice red in the winter, summertime calls for something lighter.

One of my favorite meals in the warmer months is a thick filet mignon, peppery and well-seasoned, paired with a Pinot Grigio.

The dryness and hints of stone fruit are a delightful contrast to the juiciness of the meat. 

I’m also not opposed to a Negroamaro rose because the acidity and spicy tannic profile are strong enough to balance lean and beefy top sirloin.


Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Palate-cleansing club soda has a light crispness that refreshes your taste buds between each bite.

Raspberry mojito cocktail with lime, mint and ice, cold refreshing drink

I like adding a splash of lime juice to introduce a bit of acidity to cut through the meat’s richness. 

High-quality pomegranate juice is another excellent option because the rich, red fruit has a strong tannin presence similar to a robust red wine.

I love Lakewood Pure Pomegranate because it’s fresh-pressed rather than from concentrate, so it’s not as overwhelmingly sweet as many fruit juices.

See also  11 Most Popular Mexican Beers To Enjoy 

My favorite non-alcoholic recommendation is a hybrid of club soda and pomegranate juice– Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice


Beer

The same principles for pairing whiskey and wine extend to beer: You want balance and body that elevates both meal elements. 

Freshly tapped beer. Bartender holding a freshly tapped glass of beer in his hand

So, it follows that fattier cuts of meat do best with the aggressive bitterness of a West Coast IPA, whose piney, herbaceous undertones with citrusy notes find a natural counterpart in the well-seasoned smokiness of a T-bone or tenderloin.

Lean cuts benefit from the natural crispness of wheat beers.

The addition of grain in the brewing process makes it less malty than most brews, letting the citrusy qualities of the hops make a more pronounced appearance.

Try Blue Moon with filet mignon or Allagash White with Mexican-spiced skirt steak. 


Martinis & Other Cocktails

If you prefer a mixed drink for your steak meal, dry martinis are a traditional pairing because of their uncomplicated lightness and botanical freshness.

martini, vodka,and others on decorated catering bouquet table

They provide much-needed equilibrium for the juicy succulence of a steak.

Notice that I said dry martini, though– olive brine adds a heavy dose of salt to an already salty cut of meat. 

Along the same lines, mojitos bring an appreciated fruity brightness and light carbonation that preps your palate for the next bite.

It’s also the perfect answer to what to drink with steak in the summertime when rum, lime, and mint flavor profiles are in high demand. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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