Time for a Drink: Oyster & Beverage Pairings

After all the hard work of shucking, you may be feeling thirsty. Or heck, maybe you can ease yourself into the labor of shucking with a drink beforehand; we won’t judge. The good news is that there are plenty of exciting beverage pairing options for oysters. Experiment liberally, and remember that there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. Here are some suggestions grouped by drink category:

  • Wine: There’s good reason that champagne and sparkling wines have traditionally been paired with oysters—it’s elegant AND delicious. Bubbles help cleanse your palate and acidity balances the saltiness of the oyster. White wines with high acid such as sauvignon blanc, Chablis and Muscadet act in the same manner, like a liquid squeeze of lemon to wash down your oyster. If you’d like to try a more unconventional twist, red wine can also be paired with oysters. Try a light bodied, low tannin red wine, and drink it with the briniest oyster you can find for a truly unique experience.
  • Beer: Like sparkling wines, the carbonation of beer makes it a friendly match for oysters. The dry nature of Irish stouts means Guinness and oysters have long been pub mates, but Pilsners and lagers also do well as palate cleansers for briny East Coast oysters. For West Coast oysters with more subtle fruity notes, you can try Belgian-style tripels and golden ales.
  • Sake: There is a Japanese proverb that states, “Sake does not get in fights with food.” This is to say that sake is amenable to being paired with strong, assertive flavors like wasabi, soy sauce, and you guessed it, oysters. While dry sakes act similarly to white wine when paired with oysters, you can experiment with delicate sakes and West Coast oysters to enhance floral notes. Unfiltered sakes can create an added dimension of textural interplay.
  • Frozen: If the ideal of frozen drinks makes you recoil, hear us out and let us reassure you that this will not be like Cinco de Mayo. On the contrary, frozen granitas can be a fun, innovative touch for presenting oysters, especially if they are done with complementary citrus flavors or other tart fruits. Garnish the top of the oyster with a scoop of granita and serve immediately to the oohs and ahhs of your guests.
  • Liquor: For avid oyster fans, eating oysters tends to be a prolonged, multi-dozen affair, so it may be wise to stick to drinks with gentle alcohol levels. For the more daring among us though, you can definitely enjoy fine liquors with your oysters. Chilled vodka develops a smooth, silky texture that can be refreshing with oysters or when combined with an oyster shot. The floral nature of gin makes it a good match for West Coast oysters. Finally, a flight of Scotch pourings can also be paired with oysters to highlight earthy, peaty and caramel notes.