The Best Cocktails To Pair With Any Style Of Pizza

While pizza and cocktails might not seem like obvious bedfellows, there's absolutely no reason why you can't enjoy them together. In fact, pizza is serious business these days, with all kinds of gourmet pies available. So, it only makes sense to accompany them with something as high-end as a cocktail. And, once you know the best cocktails to pair with any kind of pizza, your senses will be in for a treat.

There are many styles of pizza available, both international styles — many originating from Italy — and regional U.S. styles. All these have individual characteristics that make them better suited to particular cocktail pairings than others. For example, the intense richness of a Chicago deep-dish pizza pairs well with a cocktail that's cold, zingy, and refreshing, such as a frosty bulldog margarita. On the other hand, something lighter, like a St. Louis pizza, pairs well with a complex, bitter-sweet cocktail like an Americano.

So, whether you're planning a pizza and cocktail dinner party with homemade pizza and cocktails mixed at home or you want to know which cocktail to order next time you go out for pizza, we have you covered. We'll be delving into some of the most popular pizza styles — and some lesser-known ones — and what their perfect cocktail pairings are. Buon appetito!

Detroit pizza with an Aperol spritz

Detroit-style pizza is a unique style of pizza that originated in Detroit, Michigan, in the mid-20th century. It has a rectangular shape with a thick, crispy crust that's somewhat akin to focaccia. It uses Wisconsin brick cheese, which has a fairly mild flavor but is rich and has a high fat content. The edges of the crust are especially crispy due to the cheese that's placed around the edge of the pan, creating a caramelized cheese crust.

Because Detroit pizza is rich and cheese-heavy with a thick, doughy base, it's best paired with a light cocktail. Our top choice is an Aperol spritz. An Aperol spritz is a popular Italian cocktail known for its refreshing, slightly bitter flavor profile. The cocktail's vibrant orange hue and light, bubbly nature make it a popular choice, particularly during warm weather.

It's made using Aperol (an Italian aperitif liqueur made from a blend of bitter and sweet oranges), herbs, and botanicals. It's known for its distinctive, bright-orange color and slightly bitter taste with underlying sweet, citrusy notes. In an Aperol spritz, this liqueur is mixed with prosecco and soda water or club soda to give it a light, thirst-quenching finish that pairs beautifully with a hearty Detroit pizza.

Neapolitan pizza with a Negroni

If you're serious about pizza, you've probably tried your share of Neapolitan pizzas. This style of pizza comes from Naples in Italy. It's famed for its simplicity, high-quality ingredients, and specific preparation methods that adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, an organization dedicated to preserving the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza.

Neapolitan pizza has a soft crust that is charred and puffy around the edges, often referred to as the cornicione. The center of the pizza is thin and tender. It has simple toppings — either just marinara sauce or marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. It's wood fired at a high temperature, which gives its crust a charred pattern of spots known as leoparding. This adds to its flavor, making it distinct from pizzas cooked in other ways.

So, what should you drink with this style of pizza? We'd opt for a Negroni. You make a Negroni by combining three key ingredients: gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari (a bitter Italian aperitif). It's bold and balanced, with a slight bitterness that works well with the rich simplicity of a Neapolitan pizza. With its rich sauce, creamy mozzarella, and puffy, charred crust, it has enough going on to balance a Negroni without either end competing for dominance.

Sicilian pizza with a Manhattan

Sicilian pizza is a distinct style of pizza that originated in Sicily, Italy, and has become popular in the U.S. It's known for its thick, airy crust. It's often baked in a rectangular pan, resulting in a square or rectangular shape. The crust is usually soft and doughy on the inside with a crispy exterior. It's typically loaded with a generous amount of toppings. It often features a rich tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a variety of toppings like pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, and more.

You need a full-bodied cocktail to stand up to this robust pizza, which is why a classic Manhattan is an excellent choice. A Manhattan is one of the most well-known and enduring cocktails, with a history dating back to the late 19th century. It's made with whiskey (generally rye or bourbon), vermouth, and bitters. You can make it with sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, or a blend of the two, depending on your preference. The vermouth balances out the sweetness and acidity of the rich tomato sauce on a Sicilian pie, while the whiskey holds its own against the doughy crust and ample toppings.

New York pizza with a 212

Everybody knows about the classic New York slice. New York pizza has a thin crust that's crisp along its edge while still being soft and pliable enough to fold in half lengthwise. This folding technique is commonly used by locals to make it easier to eat a slice while on the go. It traditionally has simple toppings, focusing on the combination of quality cheese and tomato sauce. Common toppings include mozzarella cheese and a basic tomato sauce. While other toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers are available, many people celebrate the simplicity of the classic cheese slice.

With acidity from the tomato and richness from the cheese, New York pizza pairs well with a refreshing, slightly bitter cocktail, like a 212. A mix of tequila, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and soda water with a twist of orange or grapefruit to garnish, this is a delightful cooler that you should absolutely try the next time you have New York-style pizza. It isn't overly sweet, so you won't end up feeling sticky when you're done. Rather, it's a grown-up tall drink with the complexity of something shorter.

White pizza with an Averna spritz and grapefruit bitters

A white pizza is a type of pizza made without the traditional, tomato-based pizza sauce. Instead, white pizzas typically feature a base made from other ingredients — this can be a combination of olive oil and garlic or a béchamel sauce. This results in a pizza with a lighter color and a different flavor profile compared to traditional, red-sauced pizzas. On top of the base, you'll find a range of cheeses, although they vary from pie to pie. It could be just a classic mozzarella or you can add ricotta or parmesan into the mix.

Without the tanginess of the tomato sauce, the resulting pizza is fairly heavy, which is why the right cocktail pairing is important. An Averna spritz is an ideal, refreshing, and effervescent cocktail to enjoy with a white pizza. But, what is it? First, we should learn about Averna. It's a popular Italian herbal liqueur that originated in Sicily, known for its bittersweet, complex flavor, which comes from a blend of various herbs, roots, and citrus rinds.

It's a lesser-known type of amaro in the U.S. when compared to its more popular cousins, Campari and Aperol. It has a medium amount of bitterness to it, making it the perfect option to cut through the richness of white pizza. Make an Averna spritz by blending Averna, prosecco, and soda water, then add grapefruit bitters for some extra complexity.

Chicago deep-dish pizza with a frosty bulldog margarita

If you're serious about toppings, you're probably well-acquainted with Chicago deep-dish pizzas. This style of pizza is known for its deep, thick, and hearty crust that resembles a pie or casserole more than a traditional flat pizza. The crust holds a substantial amount of toppings and cheese. Because of all these toppings, Chicago deep-dish pizza is seriously rich and intense. So, any cocktail you pair with it should provide a refreshing balance.

A frosty bulldog margarita is the perfect match for Chicago deep-dish pizza. It's made by blending tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, and triple sec or orange liqueur with ice to create a frozen cocktail. It's served with an upside-down bottle of beer inside the glass — this is usually a Mexican beer or adjunct lager, such as Corona. Not only is it cool and refreshing as a contrast to Chicago-style pizza, but it's also fun and unpretentious, a bit like this type of pizza.

Greek pizza with a Paloma

Greek pizza — sometimes referred to as New England Greek-style pizza — is a regional variation that has a devoted following, especially in places such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. What sets it apart is the crust — it's thick and fluffy with a satisfyingly chewy texture. It's often cooked in pans with plenty of oil, giving the crust an almost deep-fried flavor and texture.

The sauce is particularly rich and slow cooked with plenty of oregano added, and the cheese is usually a 50/50 blend of mozzarella and either cheddar or provolone. The combination of that hearty crust, the gooey cheese, and the rich tomato sauce has won over the hearts (and stomachs) of many in the region.

Now, let's talk cocktail pairings. We love this style of pizza with something fizzy and fresh — a paloma. The paloma brings a citrusy and bubbly flair to the table. It's known for its simplicity and delightful flavor profile. The key ingredients that make up a paloma are tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice, and a touch of salt. However, if you want less sweetness, you can switch the grapefruit soda for grapefruit juice and club soda. This cocktail has a slight bitterness from the grapefruit that makes it a great choice alongside a pizza as hearty as a Greek pizza.

California pizza with a mojito

The distinct style of California pizza is characterized by its inventive and unconventional toppings, drawing inspiration from the diverse ingredients and flavors associated with Californian cuisine. The crust is somewhere between a New York pie and a Neapolitan pizza, but what distinguishes California pizza is its departure from traditional pizza toppings. It features toppings like avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, and goat cheese. It reflects a culinary spirit that celebrates a wide array of ingredients and seeks to capture the vibrant and diverse culinary landscape of California.

What you need to go with this kind of pizza is a classic drink that isn't too serious but also won't overshadow the elaborate flavors of a California pizza's toppings. The mojito is the perfect pick. A mojito brings together a refreshing mix of flavors. It's made by combining five key elements: white rum, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, sugar, and soda water. This concoction creates a harmonious balance of sweet, tangy, and minty flavors. It's light and zingy, so it goes well with a pizza that has fresh toppings that are a little different from the norm.

St. Louis pizza with an Americano

The St. Louis pizza came to life in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. What sets St. Louis pizza apart is its distinct characteristics, which start with the crust. The thin, cracker-like crust is crisp and quite different from the traditional, soft, and chewy crust you might be used to. It's often cut into small square or rectangular pieces, which is affectionately known as the "party cut" or "tavern cut."

One of the most noticeable features of a St. Louis pizza is the cheese. Provel cheese, a blend of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses, is a signature ingredient of St. Louis pizza. This cheese melts smoothly and has a tangy flavor that adds a unique twist to the pizza. When you bite into a St. Louis pizza, you're met with a delightful crunch from the thin crust, a distinct flavor from the Provel cheese, and a tang from the ample, sweet tomato sauce.

So, what cocktail goes with a St. Louis pizza? We love something with a bittersweet flavor to balance the richness of the cheese and tomato sauce that won't overwhelm the thin crust — an Americano is a great choice. An Americano is made up of three ingredients: Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water. The magic of the Americano lies in its simple, well-balanced combination.

New Haven pizza with a raspberry lemon drop

If you want to try New Haven pizza, don't let the locals hear you refer to it as pizza. This style hails from New Haven, Connecticut, and is known locally as "apizza" (pronounced ah-BEETS). It's renowned for its coal-fired crust that's crispy and slightly charred, along with its flavorful toppings. The most iconic New Haven pizza variety is the white clam pizza, topped with fresh clams, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

This is a bold pizza, with its charred taste from the coal-fired crust and its rich toppings, so you need some contrast from your chosen cocktail. The contrast between the intense flavors of New Haven pizza and the fruity zing of a raspberry lemon drop cocktail is just right. A raspberry lemon drop is a take on the classic lemon drop cocktail with added sweet tartness from raspberry. It's made with vodka, lemon juice, and raspberry liqueur. The citrusy tang of the raspberry lemon drop cocktail acts as a palate cleanser between bites of the rich pizza.

Calabrian pizza with a lion's tail

Also known as pizza a la Calabrese, Calabrian pizza comes from the region of Calabria in southern Italy. It's known for its emphasis on fresh and bold ingredients, inspired by the flavors of the region. It has a slightly thinner crust than Neapolitan pizza and is rolled with a pin, so you don't get as many air bubbles. When it comes to toppings, a Calabrian pizza showcases a delightful array of ingredients like spicy Calabrian chili peppers, salty cured meats like 'nduja or soppressata, and aromatic fresh herbs. The combination of these ingredients creates a balance of heat, richness, and freshness that's distinctive to the Calabrian culinary tradition.

Our perfect cocktail pairing is with a lion's tail, which is a delightful blend of bourbon, allspice dram, fresh lime juice, bitters, and simple syrup. This concoction offers a rich, spicy flavor with a touch of citrusy brightness. The allspice dram in the cocktail echoes the aromatic qualities of the fresh herbs often found on the pizza. The spicy kick from the Calabrian chili peppers resonates with the boldness of the bourbon and adds an extra layer of depth to the pairing. What's more, the citrusy tang of the fresh lime juice acts as a refreshing contrast to the richness of the cured meats and cheese on the Calabrian pizza.

Ohio Valley pizza with a pine old fashioned

An Ohio Valley pizza is a lesser-known regional pizza style that hails from a region that encompasses parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. This style of pizza is characterized by a thick, doughy crust that's similar to a Sicilian or Detroit-style pizza. The crust is often pan-baked, resulting in a crispy bottom and a soft, airy interior.

Toppings on an Ohio Valley pizza are a bit different from most. It's baked with tomato sauce and then has a thin layer of cheese and other toppings added part-way through baking. After baking, it's topped with a pile of grated cheese that remains raw (though it can melt a little from the heat of the pizza).

Our pairing of choice is a pine old fashioned — a contemporary twist on the classic old fashioned cocktail. It's a complex short cocktail made using pine simple syrup, bourbon, and bitters. The whiskey goes nicely with the fresh provolone and mozzarella that's used on an Ohio Valley pizza, while its sharp complexity counterbalances the richness of the pizza overall.

Colorado pizza with an Aperol mist

Another less-famous American regional pizza style, Colorado pizza, is sometimes also known as Colorado mountain pie. It features a thick, hearty crust that is braided around the edges, providing a sturdy base to hold its generous toppings. The crust is said to resemble the ridges of the Colorado Mountains — although it's a stretch — hence the name. The toppings tend to be plentiful, including lots of cheese that creates a gooey, melty layer that holds everything together.

Although it's delicious, this pizza is rich and decadent, so you want a cocktail that's refreshing and zingy to go with it. Our pairing of choice is the Aperol mist, which is made with Aperol, fresh lemon juice, and Belgian-style wheat beer. It might sound like an odd combination, but there's a complex bitterness from the Aperol, a zesty tang from the lemon juice, and a maltiness and slight spiciness from the wheat beer, which is brewed with coriander and orange zest. All in all, this makes a refreshing and unpretentious cocktail that tastes delicious with a hearty pizza like a Colorado mountain pie.