Pairing Drinks and Cigars: A Guide

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Accompanied by the right beverage, a fine cigar improves from memorable to downright religious. The key is to start with a bit of theory, then get on with the fun part: experimentation.

Start with intensity of flavor. Turkish coffee’s gonna overpower a mild cigar every time, just as hot tea will lose its nuance if paired with a full-bodied bruiser. You want the beverage and cigar to interact in an interesting way, instead of canceling each other out.

Also consider flavor profile. Smoking a peppery cigar? Then a peppery wine may cause you to lose interest. Instead, try complementary or contrasting flavors: A refreshing contrast to a peppery cigar could be something sweet, like soda (pop) or port. An invigorating complement to a bold, earthy Maduro might be a single malt scotch with lots of caramel-like flavors.

Don’t forget about mouth-feel. Food critics use this term to describe food’s texture. Smoke has a texture too, defined as “body.” Is the smoke thick, coating the roof and walls of your mouth? Then a thicker beverage would better refresh your palate. Is the smoke “salty,” causing you to salivate? Something lighter, like tonic water with lime, might keep things going.

Three suggestions:

  1. Keep a log or journal of your pairs – what you liked, what you didn’t, and why
  2. Ask your local purveyor of adult beverages or favorite bartender for guidance
  3. Don’t overthink it!

A good pairing offers an experience that’s more than the sum of its parts. Use these tips as a guideline and you’ll be pairing like a pro in no time!

  • Beer (IPAs, stouts, porters, pilsners, barley wines, Belgian styles, and amber ales come to mind)
  • Single-malt Scotch or bourbon
  • Red wine or Port wine (ruby or tawny)
  • Rum-based drinks
  • Brandy (the grape variety, including Cognac, Armagnac, etc.)

Non-alcoholic beverage suggestions:

  • Water
  • Coffee drinks
  • Fine teas, iced tea, soda (pop)
  • Mineral water mixed with fruit juice
  • Tonic water with lime

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John Pullo

John Pullo

Managing Editor at CigarAdvisor.com

This is not his picture, nor does John even have a beard. Interestingly, his Social Security number is all ones. All we can say is " "You will know him by the mullet he wears." "

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