Top 10 Alcoholic Beverage Pairings for Cigars
While trying to figure out what to blog about today, we came to the sudden realization that we haven’t done a completely booze-themed blog yet,
save for the fact that I mention my desire to drink at work in almost every one of my posts. Since we’ve already listed the Top Ten Non-Alcoholic Beverage Pairings for Cigars, it’s about damn time we listed their 10 adult beverage counterparts. Keep in mind that these are about 50 percent based on my research and 50 percent based on my own personal opinion.
#10 – Cheap beer
It’s important to note that cheap beer isn’t necessarily crappy beer, though that’s up to individual taste. In a pinch, some swear by Miller High Life; I personally swear by good ol’ Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheap beer works well with cigars for the same reason that seltzer works well with cigars—there’s not a lot of taste to it and it tends to be very fizzy, making it an excellent palate cleanser.
#9 – Gin
While I’m personally not fan of the stogie/gin combo, it seems to be a popular choice in the cigar world. Stogie Guys recommends a Tanqueray, soda, and lime with lighter stogies like Macanudo Café or the original Griffins line. There are a lot of hidden notes in gin that are brought out by the right mixer, and milder cigars tend to be the same way.
#8 – Vodka
Vodka and cigars is another one of those pairings that I don’t usually pick, but some smokers swear by it. Flavored vodkas are often a good choice for cigars, since vodka itself doesn’t tend to have a lot to it. I think the subtle vanilla and grass notes in bison grass vodka (Zubrowka is a good one) would go really well with Connecticut-wrapped stogies, like the Gran Habano Connecticut #3.
#7 – Tequila
Tequila is a pretty polarizing beverage—I’ve never met someone who was just “okay” with it. People either love it, or it reminds them of the time they got alcohol poisoning from some crap that came in a big plastic bottle. Anyway, if you are, in fact, a fan of tequila, it’s a good idea to base which tequila you choose on how strong your cigar is; since barrel-aged tequila tends to be a little smoother, it would go well with easier cigars. Silver tequila, on the other hand, is generally more peppery, and would go well with something a bit stronger, like a Perdomo Reserve 10 Year Anniversary Champagne.
#6 – Champagne
Speaking of champagne, the beverage itself would definitely complement a lighter cigar. A stronger cigar may overpower the subtle undertones of good champagne, but something a bit lighter like an Avo Classic would complement it. Also, the bubbles in the champagne act as a great palate cleanser between puffs. Not to mention, cigars and champagne is just about the most baller combination in existence.
#5 – Dark rum
Dark rum is one of the most talked about beverages in the cigar circuit. The bittersweet, spicy flavors in dark rum would go well with a spicier cigar, like a Padron or an Illusione. In an interview with Stogie Guys, Dion Giolito, the man behind Illusione cigars, said that Zacapa 23 Años rum would be the perfect alcoholic accompaniment to a fine cigar. If you can’t find Zacapa 23 Años, Bacardi Gold, Bacardi Añejo, Sailor Jerry, or Myers’ Dark Rum would work fine, in my humble opinion.
#4 – Red wine
Not all red wines go well with cigars—some are simply too mild to cut through the taste of cigar smoke. According to an article on eHow.com, Spanish red wines pair well with cigars because they tend to have a smoky character to them. Additionally, robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot noir are generally powerful enough to stand up to the flavors of a good cigar. My personal favorite wine and cigar combo is a Revolucion Cameroon with a big glass of Garnacha de Fuego.
#3 – Brandy or cognac
I realize that brandy and cognac are two different things, but in the interest of including both of them on the list, I’ve crammed them into one spot. Brandy and cognac are both made from grapes, and both similarly spicy on the sinuses. Either could also be complex enough to complement something strong and profound, like an Opus X or Padron Aniversario.
#2 – Whisky
It’s a tricky thing to pick the right whisky for a cigar—I would personally say that whisky will overpower most mild cigars, but sometimes there are exceptions. According to an article by Cigar Aficionado’s Jack Bettridge, “We’ve been pleasantly surprised in pairings when a big, ballsy cigar made a great partner for a light whiskey and vice versa.” From experience, I can tell you that a tasty cigar/whisky pairing is the 12-year-old Macallan with a Rocky Patel Prodigy. The leather and cocoa notes in the Prodigy balance well with the strong, oaky vanilla character of the whisky.
#1 – Good beer
When you’re drinking great beer, there are any number of pairings you could choose from. A mellow cigar would go well with a mellow wheat beer or a lager—the first one that comes to mind is the Te-Amo World Selection Cuba Blend. If you’re smoking a real powerhouse like the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero or Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970, I recommend a very hoppy India pale ale—the bitterness of this type of beer goes really well with stronger cigars. Finally, cigars with dark wrappers and sweeter profiles, like the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduro or Medici by Alec Bradley, would go well with a heavy porter or stout. Anything by Sierra Nevada is a safe bet, but my personal favorite cigar stout is Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.
As I said, those are half research-based and half my own opinion—I doubt you’d find a recommendation for cheap beer anywhere else, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. What are some of your favorite cigar/booze pairings?