SaltRock Southwest Kitchen Cocktail Pairing

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, October 2022

Story and Photos by Gail G. Collins

Cocktails have made a comeback in all the best ways, not serving merely as an aperatif or digestif. Today, there is no need to order wine with a meal when a classy cocktail pairs perfectly.

“Cocktails are complementary to cuisine,” agrees Ardi Dulaku, assistant director of food and beverage at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. Cultivating locally inspired fresh ingredients, he adds, “Cocktails are a really good dance partner.”

Harmonizing flavor profiles is key with the choice to match or compliment qualities in a dish. Acidity in a drink can slice through fattiness while a beverage’s floral or herbaceous aspects can emphasize the savory or vegetal elements of food.

Also, consider crafting a cocktail around a base spirit the way a smoky mezcal embraces chocolate.

“In the Oaxacan Negroni, the mezcal is infused with cocoa nibs, which releases fat for a silky mouth feel, like mole,” Dulaku said.

Or focus on reinforcing an ingredient, such as apple. SaltRock juices a green apple over a guest’s selection of spirit with lemon oil on ice as a cool concept. “A green apple has the perfect structure of acid, sweet and fruitiness to balance any spirit,” Dulaku suggests.

Finally, stacking cuisine and cocktails ethnically also heightens the senses as a margarita echoes the generous squeeze of lime on tacos.

SaltRock Southwest Kitchen is the signature restaurant for Amara Resort and Spa in Sedona. Tucked along the banks of Oak Creek Canyon, the resort offers Southwest sophistication instilled within a modern interpretation of Sedona’s Native American heritage, embodied in its services, amenities and aesthetics. Consistently named one of the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hotels,” Amara offers 100 spacious guestrooms and suites that blend unique design elements with the landscape.

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