Cigars and drinks—what’s not to love? Pairing your favorite smokes with your favorite beverages, it’s simply a no-brainer. But choosing good pairings can be a challenge, especially if you’re a new smoker. Trial and error is one way to go on this. So is gut feeling—if it seems like a good pairing to you, it just might be.

Combinations that complement each other, not that work against each other, are also no-brainers. It just makes sense that a cigar on the milder side is a better match with beverages of the same ilk. Pair a light Macanudo with a full-bodied Cab or a heavy-duty stout or strong ale, and you’re simply asking for trouble unless you really don’t want to taste that cigar, in which case we’d have to ask why you’re going this direction in the first place.

Another approach, and one we like quite a bit around here (for reasons that will soon become evident) is to pick the cigar first, and maybe even light it up and get it going before you select your beverage. Taking this route might seem a little odd, but think about it for a moment. When you’re letting the cigar take the lead, you’re going to choose a drink that truly complements the cigar, not the other way around. And it opens up a wider range of possibilities. Once you get puffing, you might decide that something as simple as iced tea might be the perfect complement. We’ll bet real money that it’s not a decision you would have come to if you’d chosen the iced tea first.

Try it the next time you light up, and see what you think.