There’s nothing quite like the smooth flavors of a fine cigar to help you relax. While a cigar will provide plenty of flavor on its own, it can be even more enjoyable with a drink that complements it. A drink to pair it with can bring a range of flavors, textures, and experiences that help make a cigar so much more gratifying. Indeed, an accompanying drink is considered a necessity among many beginners and connoisseurs alike.
Cigar smokers are quite spoiled for choice when it comes to drinks to accompany cigars, but it’s important to find the right drink pairings for your cigars’ flavor profiles.
Otherwise there may be a clash of flavors, and there’s also the risk of one overpowering the other. With so many potential pairings, trying to find the right combination can be daunting, so here’s a brief guide that gives you the basics so you can get started.
For many smokers, there’s no better way to start the day than with a smooth cigar, and a caffeine fix is also very welcome. This makes cigars and coffee a great combination, and it’s not only in the morning that they go well together.
Many cigars come with their own natural coffee flavor, especially those with a maduro wrapper like the Undercrown Maduro. Which cigar goes best with coffee also depends on how you like your coffee. For example, a smooth and creamy coffee will go best with a different type of cigar than something richer like an espresso.
Recent years have seen a surge in craft beer and homemade beers, bringing with it an almost limitless range of flavors and textures. This is great news for cigar smokers who have even more choice when it comes to finding the perfect accompaniment for their smoke.
When partnering cigars with beer, it’s important to choose a cigar that won’t overpower the more delicate flavors of the drink, but it’s best to choose a rich cigar if you enjoy a rich beer. Many cigar smokers prefer darker beers like ales and even stouts.
Matching cigars with wines is similar to matching them with beers in that you should choose a cigar that won’t overpower the flavor of the wine. White wines tend to be lighter in flavor, which means a lighter cigar, and as always a white wine is always best served chilled when it’s partnered with a good cigar.
If you prefer richer cigars with lots of flavor then a red wine is the best option. The age of the wine is another factor with older, fuller-bodied wines pairing best with richer cigars. If you want a sweet wine, then it’s best to choose a cigar that has fruity notes.
4. Fortified Wine
Fortified wines like port and sherry can also go well with the right cigar. Sherry is on the light and sweet side, making it a good match for a cigar that’s mellow and has fruity notes. Port, however, is richer, making it a great choice for a rich and smooth cigar.
Bourbon is a sweet, smooth whiskey that often has a fruity flavor to it. As with scotches, however, there are different types of bourbon whiskeys, giving you a good range to choose from. For the smoother bourbons, look for a smooth cigar. If you have a bourbon with a spicy edge to it, try to accompany it with a cigar that also has a kick.
Scotch whiskeys also come in a range of flavors that make different types suited to different cigars. The drinks is typically full of flavor, making it a good companion for stronger cigars.
If you’re a bit of a whiskey connoisseur then you might have preference for single malt scotches, which are even fuller in flavor than blended malts. In this case, you might want to go for some of the strongest cigars you have. That doesn’t mean that a blended scotch like Johnnie Walker can’t also go well with your cigar, and blended varieties also tend to be more affordable than single malts.
One of the most quintessential of all cigar-drink pairings is cognac. Cognac is a classy drink, often drunk by people who enjoy the finer things in life—including the finest cigars.
The cognac’s age has a strong bearing on its flavor, with older cognacs typically being richer and more intense. With that in mind, a full-bodied cigar is probably the best choice if you want an aged cognac. A milder cigar may be a better accompaniment for a younger cognac. Remember that cognac is best served at room temperature so you can really make the most of its full, rich nature.
Made from sugar cane, rum is usually a rather sweet spirit, but it is also just as diverse as the others mentioned. In general, creamy cigars tend to be among the best choices when it comes to rum, and you will sometimes need something with a bit of a kick to complement the richer, spicier rum varieties. Rum is often best enjoyed just as it is, but rum that’s been mixed with mixers can also go well with the right cigar.
Cocktails can be a lot of fun, with lots of zest and fruitiness that will be just perfect for a cigar that has similar fruity tones. These drinks are made with vodka and gin are best avoided, however, because the flavors tend not to be a good match for cigars. However, cocktails made with tequila, whiskey, or rum could be a perfect pairing.
A mojito or an old-fashioned with its fragrant bitters may be a good place to start, but there’s such a wide variety of cocktails available that it can take some trial and error as you work your way through your humidor. You can even try making your own cocktails to pair with your favorite cigar, and alcohol-free cocktails are also an option for non-drinkers.
Pairing cigars with plain water might not sound like the most exciting option, but you may find it’s the perfect accompaniment to a cigar. Cool water as opposed to ice-cold water is often preferred because very cold water can dull the sense of taste. Still water is also often preferred over sparkling water, otherwise the bubbles can affect the taste of the cigar.
It’s also a good idea to drink some water in between smoking different cigars because it will help to neutralize your palate, preventing a clash between the flavors of the different cigars.
Your Best Pairing Is up to You
Which drink pairing best suits your cigar is not a perfect science and personal preference plays a large part. However, if you follow the basic guide above then you’re more likely to find the best cigar and drink combo for you. Remember not to choose a cigar that will overpower mellow drinks, while you should choose a stronger stogie if you are drinking something with a bit of a kick to it.
Alcoholic drinks are popular but not necessary, and even plain water could be just what you’re looking for.There will be an element of trial and error involved, and it is a good idea to take notes as you experiment with different combinations. Also take note of other factors, like making sure your cigar is lit properly, so you don’t add any unwelcome flavors—or impede any that are welcome. Serving your drink in just the right way will also help you to make the most of your pairing.