15 Out-of-This-World Cocktail & Dessert Pairings

Live the boozy sweet life with a cocktail and dessert combination that will sweep you off your feet.

Published February 28, 2023
cocktail and dessert on a table

Dinner is complete, the plates are in the sink, and bellies are no longer rumbling. Next up? Dessert. But not just any dessert - the perfect pairing of cocktail and dessert. From crisp and light to rich and decadent, there's a cocktail dessert pairing for any sweet tooth's desire.

Aperol Spritz and Strawberry Shortcake

With light citrus flavors and bubbles from prosecco, the Aperol spritz makes for an excellent pairing with strawberry shortcake. Because neither the spritz nor dessert are overly sweet, they're the perfect pair.

It's a match in light, airy flavors, and the match is heavenly.

French 75 and Lemon Bars

With lemon bars already having a lot of lemon flavor (okay, this might be obvious), you don't want to pair this dessert with something too lemony or too sweet. You don't want to swing between sour and sugar.

The French 75, with bubbles, a hint of lemon, and refreshing gin, is the perfect balance to the bright lemon bars.

Brandy Manhattan and Chocolate Mousse

While the classic whiskey Manhattan makes for an excellent pairing with the rich and airy chocolate mousse, the brandy Manhattan leaves room for the unexpected.

Slightly sweeter than whiskey, but with that bite at the end, brandy keeps the chocolate mousse from overwhelming the senses and makes it good until that very last scraping-the-bottom-of-the-glass spoonful.

Bourbon Old-Fashioned and Apple Pie

Sweet apple pie, with the flavors of cinnamon and a buttery crust, needs a drink that offers a soft sweetness with a bite. The classic bourbon old-fashioned, maybe with a dash of cinnamon bitters, is the perfect counterpart to this American classic.

Irish Coffee and Chocolate Cake

chocolate cake

Hands down, the Irish coffee is an iconic after-dinner drink. The gentle bitterness of the coffee and the oaky bourbon make for a complementary drink to the rich and creamy chocolate cake.

Espresso Martini and Tiramisu

Have your coffee and eat it too with the espresso martini and tiramisu pairing. The espresso martini doesn't err on the side of sweet, but it punches up the coffee flavors you get from your tiramisu. Each bite of the dessert softly sweetens each sip of your martini.

White Russian and Chocolate Chip Cookies

There's not much of an explanation needed for this match: cookies and milk are the most classic flavor combo in the world of dessert. So, when it comes to pairing the chocolate chip cookie with a cocktail, the creamy White Russian is the most obvious and best answer.

Mojito and Key Lime Cupcakes

This may be more of a summery dessert than an autumn or winter indulgence, although both mojito and key lime are great year-round. It's the lime in both that makes for a fun pairing.

The minty and citrusy flavors of the mojito are an ideal foil to the sweeter lime flavors of the key lime cupcakes. Yes, you can pair your mojito with a key lime pie if that's the way you roll.

Margarita and Coconut Cupcakes

Dessert isn't just for after dinner, it's an anytime meal. So when you're indulging in a coconut cupcake, the margarita is the cocktail of choice.

A piña colada does have bolder coconut flavors, but if you don't want to go totally nuts over coconut pairings, the margarita strikes the ideal sunny tropical balance to the coconut cupcakes. Really, any coconut dessert and a margarita make for a great combination.

Spiced Apple Martini and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

stack of oatmeal raisin cookies

Meet the spiced flavors you enjoy in an oatmeal raisin cookie with those same flavors you find in a classic spiced rum. With a hint of sweetness from apple cider and cinnamon simple syrup, the spiced apple martini is the juicy answer to the gooey, warm cookies on your plate.

Classic Whiskey Smash and Caramel Cheesecake

Skip the blackberry or any extra fruits in the whiskey smash alongside your caramel cheesecake. The creamy and caramel notes are more delicate when alongside a cocktail, so you don't need to add any competition.

A whiskey drink with a whisper of citrus offsets the sweetness that's prominent in the cheesecake, while the cheesecake draws out the quieter caramel notes in the whiskey.

Spiced Rum Old-Fashioned and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

With ginger bitters and dark rum, the bold rum old-fashioned stands up quite well to the sweet and fruity pineapple upside-down cake.

It's a simple enough recipe that also allows for spiced rum instead of dark rum. But either way, rum and pineapple are soulmates that always mingle well together between bites and sips.

Vodka Peach Martini and Almond Croissant

An almond croissant is both an excellent brunch treat or after-dinner dessert, and this vodka peach martini makes for an excellent brunch drink instead of the bellini, but it's an even better dessert drink.

Each equally sweet in their own right, the flaky croissant and juicy martini make for an unexpected pairing you'll return to over and over.

Lemon Drop Martini and Cannoli

plate of cannoli

With the cannoli, you're aiming to pair with the creamy ricotta filling. Sweet, nutty, and savory, pairing with ricotta is both simple and difficult.

Lemon is the obvious choice, as the citrus adds a layer of brightness to the creamy ricotta. And what better than a lemon drop martini to draw out the sweetness in the ricotta cannoli?

Cocktails and Ice Cream

No one cocktail is the match for ice cream. Just a brief glance at the frozen dairy section in any supermarket, and you'll see dozens on dozens on dozens of options. However, we won't leave you in a lurch.

Chocolate, coffee, or peanut butter ice cream along with a whiskey cocktail or coffee cocktail will be a dream. This includes cookies and cream varieties, too. Vanilla ice and berry ice cream will go swimmingly with a citrus cocktail or berry cocktail. Pecan and other savory ice creams shine beside a cognac, bourbon, or raspberry cocktail.

For those who love mint chocolate chip, lean into the chocolate flavors with a chocolate cocktail or smooth vanilla martini. And, if you're the indecisive type and love Neopolitan, keep it simple: Italian coffee cocktail.

Make the Most of Dessert With the Perfect Cocktail Pairing

Don't just stop at enjoying dessert, give it a proper match with a cocktail that'll level up the experience. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and what better way to do that than with a dessert in one hand and a cocktail in the other?

15 Out-of-This-World Cocktail & Dessert Pairings