Pairing Cigars and Drinks
The saying “just about anything goes” definitely is apropos when it comes to pairing cigars with drinks. Try to find a drink that doesn’t go well with a cigar, as just about all of them do. The only exception, and it still isn’t one for every cigar smoker, are cream- or ice-cream based drinks; the pairing of dairy and tobacco isn’t a popular one for many smokers as the sweetness of the drink tends to drown out a cigars nuanced flavors. But just about every other liquid out there, alcoholic or not, is definitely worth a shot!
When pairing cigars and drinks, the best matches are ones in which the characteristics of both ingredients complement each other. The fuller and richer the drink, the fuller-bodied and richer the cigar should be.
Cigars and wine is a classic combination, thanks to the similarities between them. Both contain a blend of ingredients. Both are fermented and aged, and both have a point at which they reach their peak. If you’re a fan of lighter, fruitier whites or reds, choose cigars on the lighter side, perhaps a Fonseca, noted as a rich yet mild smoke, or maybe something from La Aurora, a medium-bodied smoke. As you work your way up the scale to fuller-bodied reds, such as Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons, go with fuller-bodied smokes as well. There’s no lack of cigars to consider here, given the cigar-smoking world’s current preference for rich smokes. Selections here include La Gloria Cubana, Punch, and Rocky Patel.
Cigars and port, brandy or cognac is also a classic combination. Because they’re fortified (in port’s case) or intensely distilled (brandy and cognac) you want fuller-bodied cigars that will stand up to them. Bourbon is another spirit that calls for cigars on the fuller-bodied side; Scotch can go either way depending on the type and how it’s served—if you’re mixing it with soda or water cigars on the lighter side can be a good match. Aged rums also do well with fuller-bodied smokes, and one of the world’s most classic cocktails—the Martini—almost begs to be paired with an elegant cigar, maybe one with a Connecticut shade wrapper.
On the non-alcoholic side, coffee often goes to battle with the flavors in cigars but if you’re a coffee lover there’s nothing saying that you shouldn’t give it a try. Some teas also go well with cigars…and here’s a secret from the cigar masters in Cuba—sipping unsweetened iced tea with your favorite sticks can be the answer to avoiding ashtray mouth at the end of your smoke.
But, bottom line, almost anything goes when it comes to beverages and cigars. A recent visit to a cigar message board showed a wide variety of parings, including tequila, iced tea, Diet Coke, various microbrews, root beer, Michelob Amberbock, and Scotch under discussion as pairings for a late afternoon smoke.