Olive, the UK-based food magazine, has identified cocktail and food pairing as a coming trend in 2009. It's possible but I'm a little sceptical nowadays when it comes to initiatives involving spirits and food. There have been so many false dawns over the last few years (remember cocktail dessert menus?) and I would have thought the current economic climate was the least propitious period to get the idea off the ground. But I could be wrong.
The three restaurants they pick out as evidence of the trend are the Astoria Bar at the Ithaca in Manchester which is offering a pairing of raw oysters with a cocktail called The Pearl which is made from vodka, quince liqueur, apple liqueur and pearl dust (thought we were in a recession?), BFI Benugo Kitchen at the British Film Institute on the South Bank which is (very oddly) pairing sausage rolls with a quince and vanilla margarita and Saf, the innovative raw food restaurant in Shoreditch which partners every dish with a cocktail or natural or biodynamic wine.
The Saf approach, which includes such pairings as vegetarian sushi with a Jasmine Pearl Martini (jasmine tea-infused vodka with Creme de Peche and lemon), sounds the most carefully thought out and least gimmicky offering though I think we still have some way to go before we reach the level of interest in spirits and food in the states. (For some more ideas take a look at About.com's guide to food and beverage pairing)