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Can I pair cocktails with a meal?
Absolutely! There are lots of cocktails that can go extremely well with your meal and I’m not just talking about oysters and a Martini or a steak and an Old Fashioned. Think about the flavors you’re going to be having and then pair your cocktail with those flavors. For example, if you’re having a dish with fat such as meats or cheeses, go with a Negroni. Its herbaceous quality will help cut through the richness. A more refreshing cocktail like a Paloma or a fancy Gin & Tonic would be great for spicier fare. And if you’re out at a restaurant with a great mixology program, just ask! The mixologist will be more than happy to help you figure out which cocktails go best with what you’ve ordered.

However, if you are going to pair cocktails with your meal, go lighter on the spirit, or make cocktails that would be half the normal serving size, as it’s a lot more alcohol than you’d get if you were pairing your meal with beer or wine.

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I was meeting a friend for dinner and they were running late, so I grabbed a seat at the bar. But I didn’t want to order a drink because we were going to split at least a bottle of wine at dinner. The bartender seemed a bit miffed. Was I being rude?
While I have my own issues with restaurants that make you wait to be seated until your entire party has arrived — to be addressed at a later date — if you take a seat at the bar while waiting for your friend, whether or not you should order a drink totally depends on the circumstances.

If the bar is packed and you’re taking up a seat to wait, then you absolutely should order something from the bar because you’re occupying a seat and preventing a potential customer from occupying it. But, if the bar is empty, just occupying the seat while you wait shouldn’t be the biggest deal to the restaurant. Order a soda or tea if you are feeling guilty, but if you aren’t preventing someone else from spending money, this isn’t an issue you should worry about.

What are good after-dinner drinks to serve at a dinner party?
There are a host of after-dinner drinks you could serve; it really depends on your mood. I have personally become a big fan of Amaro, as I find it helps settle the stomach after a long meal. Two of my favorites that you can easily find are Amaro Nonino and Amaro Montenegro. You could also always go with Cognac, a classic choice, or, if you are looking to throw your guests a bit of a curve ball, serve Metaxa. It’s a classic Greek after-dinner drink that’s made like a Cognac, only not in Cognac but in Greece!