What Cheese Pairs Best with a Gin Martini Cocktail?

Quick take: Avoid pairing a gin martini with cheese, but if you insist, try a Brillat-Savarin.

In our cheese + cocktail pairing project, I’m combining my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou. We’re delivering a series of classic cocktail and cheese pairings.  

Our January Pairing: Gin Martini + Brillat-Savarin (though we recommend not pairing a martini with cheese)

For a martini, go with a triple cream, like this Brillat-Savarin

Notes, discoveries and tips worth sharing:

  • We had high hopes for pairing the gin martini, thinking the botanicals might be interesting and it might work much like an acidic white wine with some cheeses – both with the alcohol cutting through the fat and the fat coating the mouth to prepare it for alcohol. Ultimately, we were underwhelmed by all pairings.
  • Of the cheeses we tried, the ones that were passable with the gin martini were (in rough order of preference) : Brillat-Savarin, Reblochon, Crottin de Chavignol, Comté 40 month (which brought out the citrus oils in both martinis) or a Soumaintrain (which keeps the drink refreshing.)
  • Cheeses we recommend avoiding with the gin martini: Emmental (we tried French Emmental), Rocamadour, Rove des Garrigues, Brie de Meaux, Salers Tradition, and Fourme d’Ambert.
  • We tested with martinis made with Bombay Sapphire (40 ABV)  and Beefeater (US strength, i.e. 47 ABV) and found that each worked differently with different cheeses.  For example, I found the Reblochon and Fourme d’Ambert better with the Beefeater but the Salers Tradition better with the Bombay. This may have had as much to do with the difference in ABV (proof) between the two as flavour.
  • We stirred the martinis and expressed a lemon zest over them rather than dropping in the lemon peel (my preference as it avoids having something floating around and getting in the way in the while you are drinking the cocktail).
  • We also made a couple of vodka martinis (with Absolut and Zubrowka) and decided not to test them out during this session or in the future as there was not enough flavor in the Absolut to pair with the cheese. That said, there is a lot of interesting flavor to the Zubrowka with a prominence of vanilla and dried grass. And some of the cheeses brought out a warm spice note in the cocktail that recalls Christmas holidays. But, still as it’s labeled a flavoured vodka, we will avoid pulling flavoured vodkas into the mix on this project.
We tested both vodka and gin martinis

Dry Martini

1 part vermouth (Noilly Prat in our case)

1 part gin

3 – 4 drops orange bitters (Regans in our case)

Stir over lots of ice and strain into a very chilled martini glass.

Express lemon oil from a peel generously over drink.

Optionally add an olive or oversized caper.

We worked through a lot of cheese trying to find a good pair for the dry gin martini

If you’re here, I already know you like cocktails. But, if you want to learn more about these or other cheeses, I recommend some time on Jennifer’s blog and Instagram or signing up for one of her cheese workshops with Paris by Mouth.

Up next month (just in time for Mardi Gras!): What Cheese to Pair with a Sazerac?

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