The Best Cocktail To Pair With Vodka Sauce

When biting into a plate full of spaghetti with vodka sauce, you ideally get a mouthful of creamy, sweet, and acidic pasta. In part, that's thanks to the alcohol, which can draw out fruity aromas and even add a hint of heat to the meal. You may wonder, then, with a vodka-heavy sauce, if your best bet is to use the same alcohol in an accompanying cocktail.

Since the meal features robust ripe tomatoes, you may also be tempted to pour a bold red wine. Based on the advice of Nathan Grunow, Wine Director at Jovanina's Broken Italian, you'd be making a mistake. "Try a juniper gin cocktail instead," Grunow shared with Food Republic. Grunow taps the infused vodka as the spirit of choice for this pairing.

"Start with something like Hendrick's, made into a classic gin and tonic or even a Negroni, to add some herbal hints and cut through some of the richness of the sauce," he explained. This way, you'll let a crisp cocktail do some heavy lifting at the dinner table. In addition to Hendrick's, newcomers to the spirit can seek out other London Dry-style gins for a similarly juniper-forward bottle — juniper being gin's aromatic main ingredient.

Infusing juniper and herbs into your cocktails

A classic G&T and a Negroni, which require two and three ingredients respectively, are easy options to pull together and pair with a store-bought vodka sauce. However, you can stock your bar ahead of time to prepare additional herbaceous elements to complement your gin. Start by securing aromatic juniper berries to use as a garnish if you want to truly dial up the sharp, citrusy component.

Start by leveling up your tonic water for gin and tonics with a bottle infused with aromatics, like those offered by Fever-Tree. Technically, you could also make your own, but that may require some specialized ingredients to replicate quinine, tonic water's trademark ingredient. Alternatively, you can make a simple syrup using sharp herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme, as well as citrus peels, to enhance gin's botanicals.

One of the easiest way to build and riff on the classic Negroni, without losing its robust gin flavor, is to swap in another juniper-rich alcohol. Genever, a malty Dutch spirit, is also known for its plentiful herbal notes when it's still young and relatively un-aged. Though it won't capture the exact same experience, gin drinkers may enjoy the booze's similarities and find it draws out some of the sweet and wheaty notes of the meal. This way, you can try something new without losing the spirit of expert Nathan Grunow's recommendations.