What Cheese Pairs Best with a Margarita Cocktail?

Quick take: pair a Margarita cocktail with a Bouton de Culotte cheese

In our Cocktails X Cheese pairing project, I combine my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou for a series of classic cocktail and cheese pairings.

This week in Paris it’s Viva Agave, the festival dedicated to agave spirits, we thought it was the perfect time to do some pairing with a tequila cocktail. That’s right…we’re talking about the fun-loving, life of the party drink, the margarita! You can’t not have fun with a margarita in hand, so, we invited a couple of our favorite fun-loving friends who are also pros in the food world to taste test with us: Jane Bertch of La Cuisine Paris cooking school and Mardi Michels of www.eatlivetravelwrite.com and author of In the French kitchen with kids.

March Pairing: Margarita Cocktail with Bouton de Culotte Cheese

Bouton de Culotte makes the best cheesy pairing partner for a Margarita

Notes, discoveries and tips worth sharing:

-While our top pick was the Bouton de Culotte, the Fourme d’Ambert was also a good option. And Jane brought a fresh perspective to the table, finding the Saint-Marcellin to be the most interesting of the pairings with the margarita.

-We tried both a Tommy’s margarita and a classic margarita up, and overall preferred the tasting with the classic. However, this might be because I was working on the impression that my aguamiel was the same as agave nectar, which I now think is incorrect. (drink and learn!) So, it produced a darker drink with a more caramel and almost smokey flavour. It was not a bad drink, but didn’t work as well with the pairings. Of note: the top cheese pick did go with both drinks.

-We tried standard salt and spicy salt rims and generally agreed that the spicy salt should be left off when pairing – with the exception of with the very young palet de chèvre, which was fun with the spice.

-I was not a fan of the Mimolette, which made the cocktail feel almost too sweet. However, both Jane and Mardi found something special about the pairing as for them the cheese really stood up to the citrus. We all felt like it brought out orange notes in the drink (interestingly for some, even in the Tommy’s margarita, which doesn’t have any triple sec in it.)

-Other cheeses that did not go well were the Brie de Meaux, an older Ossau-Iraty, and the Trou du Cru. The worst combination was the 2 year old Comté, which resulted in a near curdled flavor when paired.

-We reinforced our current feeling that citrusy cocktails seem to work well chèvres but not so much with buttery cheeses like Comté.

-We used Calle 23 blanco tequila as it’s a nice combination of price, quality and accessibility. But, you can swap that out for any good quality 100% agave blanco tequila.

-I have nothing against a blended, frozen margarita, but we didn’t try it for this pairing as it would have required more adjustments to the proportions and we’ll be doing a frozen pairing next month with the Pisco sour cocktail. But, should you wish to do this, dial up the sweetness a tiny bit as the frozen factor will affect the perception of it.

-Finally, having fun, food-savvy friends join us brought a great different dynamic to the pairing process, reminded us that tasting can be subjective and pulled in welcome fresh perspectives. But, it mostly reinforced our suspicion that Cocktail and Cheese pairing sessions is a really enjoyable and interesting way to spend time with good friends!

Lots of note taking during our cheeese and cocktail taste tests

Tommy’s Margarita

2 oz/60 ml Calle 23 Tequila
1 oz/30 ml freshly squeezed lime juice
½ oz/ 15 ml agave nectar or syrup

Optional: Wet rim of rocks glass with lime wedge and dip in dish of salt
Shake all ingredients over ice and pour into rocks filled glass

Classic Margarita up (my way)

2 oz/60 ml Calle 23 Tequila
1 oz/30 ml freshly squeezed lime juice
1oz/30ml Cointreau (can substitute other triple sec)
½ oz/ 15 ml simple syrup

Optional: Wet rim of rocks glass with lime wedge and dip in dish of salt, then place in freezer to chill
Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into the chilled glass

Fresh is best! Always squeeze your own lime juice for margaritas.

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. And if you’ve stuck with us this far, you must be a gastronome with great taste, so you might also want to check out cooking classes at la Cuisine Paris or Mardi’s book!

Up next month: What Cheese to Pair with an Pisco Sour cocktail

As usual, Chez Loulou put together a beautiful cheese board
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