Most people are aware of what drinks they prefer to order when they go to a bar for drinks with friends, or to dinner with a loved one. But when it comes to pairing your beverages with a stogie, some people can fall short. This isn’t a slight on cigar smokers who are yet to know what to pair their favourite smoke with, but if you are one of those seeking to find more information on what you can sip while you smoke, we’ve got just the thing for you!
In actual fact, everyone is capable of using their natural tasting abilities when it comes to you picking a wine to drink with dinner, or what sauce you’d prefer on your steak, and essentially this is the same when it comes to pairing drinks with cigars.
Your palate gives you the information that is correct for you. Therefore, the more that you keep your palate active – call it training, if you will – the more refined it becomes. This has a proven success record, with professional cigar makers and whiskey distillers all developing their expertise using this technique, so if it’s right for them, then we’re confident this is the route you should explore.
The Selection Process
When choosing the ideal drink to go with your cigar, typically you want to aim to tie it in with flavours and weights that compliment your cigar. A full-bodied cigar demands for a full-bodied whereas the more delicate beverages, Prosecco or Champagne, for example, will call on the lighter cigar to be smoked.
Without further ado, you can explore these seven drinks that we have compiled so that you have greater insight into some of the more widespread beverages so that you can begin to refine your palate.
Although some may consider pairing a cigar with Cognac, there is a reason as to why they are paired. Timing is everything in this case, and due to the fact that both were customarily enjoyed following meals, they naturally became linked. There is a firm argument to say that this is the finest pairing of them all, which is why this is the first drink we have mentioned.
A side note to take into consideration when buying Cognac is the age. If the bottle is labelled with VS (Very Special) then you’ll know that this is the lowest age category, and isn’t one to be consumed with your cigar. VSOP (Very Special Old Pale), which has aged for a minimum of four and a half years is a nice option to get started with and can be paired with mild and medium-bodied cigars.
When it comes to Scotch and or Bourbon, there are a couple of things that you should bear in mind. The small batch and single barrel Bourbons, along with single malt Scotches are your high-end options that offer the kind of depth and complex of flavours that can withstand the needs of your palate while smoking a cigar. A premium single malt will give a smoky quality, a resultant of the smoked peat used as part of the filtering process. This combines idyllically with Cohiba cigars, for example. Select a small batch Bourbon and you’ll be greeted with a drink that is bottled at a higher proof level, providing them with what it takes to stand up to medium- and full-bodied cigars, thanks to the drink’s existing strong flavours.
Kahlua is a coffee-based liquor – and the drinks that are made using this as a main ingredient marry perfectly with cigars. There are a vast range of variations to be explored, such as the Black/White Russian, the Revolver and the Mudslide. We suggest attempting to pair with any of these three as a starting point. An experienced mixologist will be able to advise you for further suggestions.
Port can often be seen as one of the forgotten pairings for the cigar smoker, but this is a truly classic match. Combine the sweetness and alcoholic muscle of a vintage Port with your favourite, full-bodied smoke, and you’re onto a winner! As a matter of fact, even the younger vintage Ports are valid here, thanks largely to their strong tannins that are able to work alongside a spicy smoke. You can opt for a non-vintage drop as an alternative, as this option will help to complement a cigar nicely thanks to the woody characteristics a non-vintage Port obtains through long barrel ageing.
Rum and cigars are a sort of a natural pairing due to their historical geographical roots. Whether it be the Caribbean or Cuba, the people responsible for making cigars have also made their fair share of rum. This carries interesting significance; The cigar makers make their cigars to go with the drink they know. One word of advice is that you should be aiming to pair your favourite smoke with the right rum. Under no circumstances should you be looking for cheap, regular rums. You’re better than that, and your cigar deserves more respect! Choose a high-end beverage and let the magic unfold!
When it comes to wine, there are some who find the practice of pairing with a cigar slightly far-fetched, but here at Havana House, we like to keep our horizons broad, and therefore we’re keeping wine in mind. While white wine isn’t the optimum option to complement tobacco in any way, if you look to a rich and smoky wine, something like a Merlot, you are likely to find an ideal accompaniment. Give this one a go and consider yourself a forward thinker.
As we are sure you are perfectly aware, there are a whole host of variations with coffee drinks. By this, we mean non-alcoholic options such as the latte, cappuccino, cafe mocha, ristretto, and Cuban coffee. All of the aforementioned can be enjoyed alongside a stogie, but for the added taste and refinement, we suggest pairing with your cigar with a coffee with Irish cream. The taste offers layers and depth, tastes great, and will serve to effectively enhance your cigar smoking experience!
Once you’ve decided on what drink you are going to pair with your cigar, why not read our essential guide to the smoking jacket (or wear yours while sampling various beverages)?
Image: Ivo Posthumus under Creative Commons.