When it comes to alcohol and cigars, even the most seasoned cigar aficionado and spirit buffs can find themselves in a bit of trouble when it comes to finding the perfect drink and cigar pairings. We take a look at how to pair cigars based on our ability to pick out complex flavours with our sense of taste.
An Introduction to Taste
You already use your natural abilities for taste, such as noticing a new ingredient in your lunch or deciding which wine would taste best with the dinner you made for your partner. With time your palate will evolve and become more refined, which is the way sommeliers and expert cigar makers acquire their skills.
A master cigar maker can pick out a single tobacco leaf, and just by smelling and smoking it, they can identify the type of tobacco, tell you where it was grown, and how far along it is in the fermentation or ageing process.
When you are able to pair two exquisite items together, the magic starts to happen. Some classic pairings for cigars when it comes to alcohol are Cognac, Single Malt Whisky, Bourbon and Port. Drinks such as Vodka and Gin alone do not work as well, as the cigar overpowers the subtle herbal notes of the beverages.
Weaker alcohol content drinks, such as red wine and craft beers, also make an excellent match for certain cigars, just make sure they balance each other out by not letting one dominate and overpower the other.
A simple method for beginners is to follow a few of these basic ideas of cigar and drink pairings.
Mild cigars such as a Davidoff Grand Cru No.2 cigar, go particularly well with cocktails that use coffee or Irish cream.
Mudslide – This vodka-based drink can be made using 3 equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream liqueur. Just fill a glass with ice, pour an ounce of each ingredient into a cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into the glass.
Black Russian – This is a similar drink which uses vodka and coffee liqueur. Mix about 1 ¾ oz vodka with ¾ oz coffee liqueur into a glass filled with ice and stir.
If you’re not a big fan of vodka, you can replace it with Malibu, Amaretto or Kahlua.
With medium-bodied cigars, such as the Swag Connecticut VIP Petit Robusto cigar, drinks like an Irish coffee during the cold winter months, or a stinger when it’s warmer, are a perfect choice.
Irish coffee – Mix 1 ½ oz Irish whiskey with a tablespoon of brown sugar, 6 oz of hot coffee, and as much heavy cream as you want. Mix the first three ingredients together, and put the cream on top to complete this drink.
Stinger – Stingers are made using brandy and white crème de menthe liqueur. Typically they are paired with chocolate desserts, but they go very well with medium-bodied stogies. Mix 1 ¾ oz brandy with ¾ oz white crème de menthe. Pour into a glass with crushed ice and stir (shaking is optional).
For full-bodied cigars, like a Davidoff 702 Series Entreacto cigar, here at Havana House we enjoy an Old Fashioned cocktail using a quality single-malt, such as Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Mix 2 oz whisky with 1 sugar cube, 1 dash of bitters, 1 slice of lemon, 1 orange and 1 cherry. Start by combining the bitters, sugar cube, and a teaspoon of water in an old-fashioned glass. Once they are well mixed, add your whiskey and stir well. Now add your ice cubes and lemon peel, along with your orange slices and cherry.
In the end, like most things in life, it all comes down to individual taste. You will soon discover through trial and error what works best for you and what doesn’t. Buy cigars online and develop your own perfect pairings by testing out a variety of cigar and drink combinations. What’s your favourite cocktail to enjoy with a cigar? We’d love to try it out, so let us know in the comments below!