The object of the pairing is to compliment (although that often comes as a contrasting pairing) the food and allow that to be the feature - the drink is like a back up singer, she can be off-key and ruin the biggest star's performance, or she can be back there with the perfect "Doo-Whop" that sets the tone. Cocktails happen to be ideal for this because your options are endless, the key is to choose an appropriate compliment without taking away from the food.
Also, we do not have to step far from the traditional when thinking about cocktails at dinner .Cocktails, in most instances, also include mixed drinks and many that wine, instead of high-proof liquor, is always a safe option. If you desire a wine pairing, these wine cocktails are a nice alternative, even ones as simple as a White Wine Spritzer or a Kir can add that little touch of "special" to the meal.
The beauty of a cocktail pairing is that you can match bold flavors with subtle foods and vice versa. Khosrovian suggests that if you are working with a soft-flavored duck or fish, pull out a strong, flavor-filled cocktail. On the other hand, if you have a spicy Asian dish you will want to go with a light, airy, refreshing cocktail. The mixed drink can be tailored to fit the need.
You will win some and loose some when it comes to pairing no matter what beverages you choose. The thing to remember is to have fun, think through your taste buds, and "don't match, compliment."
By Colleen Graham, About.com Guide