The best cigar and beverage pairings have the magic of improving the flavor of each, like rich coffee and your favorite dessert.
There’s an art to selecting a good pairing to get a flavor mix you really like – you wouldn’t pair orange juice with lemon meringue pie, right? They’re both great, but together the flavor of each one is worsened, not improved.
There’s one point worth making up front. Discovering the best pairings through experimentation is part of the pleasure of cigar smoking and enjoying the accompanying drinks. It’s less fun when it’s all laid out for you.
One option is to choose two or three drinks to try with a cigar. If the first one tastes great with your stogie, go with it. If it doesn’t, cleanse your palate with some carbonated water and go to the second.
Basic Pairing Rules for Cigars and Drinks
It makes sense to match the strength of flavor in each in somewhat the same way a sharp waiter will suggest the right wine with your porterhouse or Chicken Paprikash.
There are no mild cigars. The mildest would best be called “medium.” Therefore, stay away from light beverages. “Tastes great, less filling” was a great motto, but that light beer won’t taste even taste good with a full-flavored cigar like the Rocky Patel Sun Grown.
This rule works very well for avoiding mistakes, but you’ll still have to experiment to find the right full-flavored whiskey, for example, with the right spicy cigar. The same goes for the perfect medium cigar, perhaps a CAO Gold, with a fine, citrusy Chardonnay wine.
The second basic rule is that the drier the spirit, the more flavor you’ll enjoy from the cigars. Your tongue and throat need to be fairly dry to extract flavor, according to Christian Eiroa of Wynwood Cigar Factory who suggests whiskey, rum or tequila as his favorite spirits to set up the taste of a great cigar.
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