What could be a good alternative to either rum or gin to have with an evening meal (or lunch). I do not drink wine or beer. Vodka is well, to my thinking, just vodka, so I would like to find something that has its own taste without overpowering the food that it accompanies. Any suggestions?
This link has decent information on pairing spirits. The problem for giving generalizations becomes differences in palate. Most people don't pair straight spirits with foods as most (self injected word) people reading websites for pairings drink spirits in "cocktail" format.
Information from the website includes:
Faile recommends pouring rye to cut through the high fat content of fattier charcuterie options. "The tannins and natural spices come through in a rye," he explains, "and a higher proof (100 or higher) is perfect for complementing something fatty and smoked."
bourbon naturally complements smoky flavors, but the added dimension of sweetness can come in handy. "Bourbons pair with the same principle as spicy foods paired with Riesling," says Faile. "The sweetness of the bourbon tempers the heat from spice so the heat does not become the only note. A wheated bourbon coats the tongue to allow the spice to come through with each bite rather than building up."
"The peatiness of Scotch makes it a perfect match for smoked meats, " says Anda. "German style sausages, like landjäger, are great with Scotch because they're smoked with immense depth of flavor and not overly fatty."
But finding the right charcuterie match can be a bit of a moving target depending on how the spirit is finished. A sherry-barrel aged Scotch like Bowmore 15, accents peat flavors with a sweetness that Faile says can be great with saltier charcuterie.
"Being all herbal and floral," Faile explains, "gin doesn't require fat to balance its flavors." Instead, the charcuterie flavors to look for when thinking of pairings for gin, says Faile, "are botanical more than fat." Herbs like fennel and thyme are key points for pairing. "Porchetta's are often seasoned with fennel and citrus," Anda says, pointing to one delicious option. Anda also recommends duck prosciutto, which he describes as more oily than fatty and is often cured with herbs, or a finocchiona, a fennel salami
Along the same lines as gin, amaro's earthy, herbaceous, and citrus qualities give it pairing versatility. Faile recommends trying earthy Averna with a liverwurst, or herbaceous Fernet with a bresaola or speck.