A burger, no matter the execution, is nothing without something refreshing to wash it down. We asked a few beverage authorities to share their favorite patty pairings.
Beer: American Porter
If I am going to have a bacon cheeseburger from Husk or Two Boroughs Larder, I want an American Porter with it like Anchor or Founders. These beers have several elements that will enhance a burger experience. First comes the malt profile. The bready/grainy notes complement the two pieces of bread that are holding this mass of deliciousness together. Many porters employ caramel and roasted malts which mimic that great crust a burger gets from extended time on a flat top. American Porters tend to be a bit more hop forward than their English brethren. Pairing the hop bitterness with the bitterness imparted by the roasted malt, you get a great balance to the fattiness from the burger, bacon, and cheese. The final piece, and probably underrated in terms of importance, is carbonation. This is why you should always have beer with a burger and never a cocktail or wine.
McCarus Beverage Company
I highly recommend pairing the delicious red grape variety Piedirosso with a nice juicy burger. Piedirosso is an indigenous red grape of Campania, Italy and thrives best in the Campi Flegrei appellation just north of Naples. A nice glass of Piedirosso is a home-run burger wine. Herbaceous on the nose, tied in with fresh cherry aromas, it makes your mouth water as much as a perfectly cooked burger. Piedirosso's spicy, smoked-yet-fresh fruit flavors will dance on your palate along with its suave aftertaste. I enjoy the wine with the classic cheeseburger as well as a burger right off the grill loaded with chili and peppers. La Sibilla, a small fifth-generation family winery, makes one of the best examples of classic Piedirosso I've ever tasted. Actually, I order a bottle of La Sibilla Piedirosso to enjoy with the Husk cheeseburger every time I venture to their bar.
Johnny Caldwell & Taneka Reaves
The Cocktail Bandits
When we think about our favorite burger, we immediately think of the tuna burgers at Rutledge Cab Co. Somehow they have managed to keep the meaty and flame-broiled taste of a beef patty in this seafood option. Tequila tends to compliment seafood exceptionally well. After a couple swigs from an ice cold Paloma — featuring a mildly sweet highland tequila like El Jimador, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a bar spoon of agave syrup, and a splash of soda, rimmed with locally harvested sea salt then garnished with a grapefruit slice — the entire meal becomes a celebration.
Robert F. Moss
Author of Barbecue Lover's The Carolinas
If you are eating at one of the many legendary burger joints where beer is verboten (like Zesto & Rosewood Dairy Bar in Columbia or any of the dozen Pete's up in Greenville) then the only choice is a Coca-Cola from a fountain in a styrofoam cup filled with nugget ice.