How to Pair Cigars and Drinks

Cigars are fine, but a cigar and a drink? Damn fine, indeed. Now, if you're here, you're wondering if there are guiding principles behind pairing cigars and drinks. And there are! Here are some basic thoughts: For a result that generally works, try to match flavors and strength levels. For example, dark oscuro wrapper cigars and 1) espresso, 2) a strong stout, or 3) a potent brown liquor (like bourbon). Or, on the other end of the spectrum, a nice blonde mild cigar and 1) a wheat beer, 2) a new coffee you've wanted to try, or 3) an easygoing port. Of course, this isn't a hard and fast rule. The piece of advice that serves you best will be to experiment. There are definitely wrong answers on the pairing test. And if you experiment, you're sure to find them. But if you go against the rules, you might find some things that are fantastic. A strong smoke may overpower a weak drink... or it may accentuate a particular flavor that makes the experience worthwhile. A strong drink may shine with a weak smoke - you never know until you try. The worst that happens is, you say, "Gross. Not doing this again." (It's the same risk your wife takes when you talk her into something sordid in the bedroom, and she's survived the marriage so far! You can be just as courageous.) Remember, the goal is to taste things that are interesting together. Each flavor will be influencing each other flavor. So take things slow, see what works, and enjoy the ride.

Here's the basic list of drinks to start with:

  • Brown liquor (dark rum, whiskey, bourbon, cognac, brandy)
  • Coffee, especially espresso
  • Wines, especially reds and ports
  • Beers, especially porters and stouts
A note on white spirits and other "weak" drinks: Many people will report that a cigar overpowers these things. We say go ahead and try it all. It might not be an electric pairing, but that doesn't mean it's a bad experience. If you want to swill some anejo while you smoke, go right ahead. If you got a new Gewurztraminer last weekend at your local winery and you want to pop the cork, be our guest. If you grabbed a six-pack of the ol' silver bullet and you want to see if the taste of the Rockies pairs well with your latest Rocky Patel acquisition, you just might find a special cosmic connection. Let no rules hold you back. And be a pal and let us know if you find anything delicious to pair with your favorite premium cigars. We want in!