Match cigars and beverages according to intensity of flavor
If you’re smoking a mild cigar, then Turkish coffee might drown out the blend’s subtleties. Likewise, hot tea will lose its nuance if paired with a full-bodied bruiser. In short, look for pairings that allow the beverage and the cigar to interact in an interesting way, instead of canceling each other out.
Consider the flavor profile
If you’re smoking a peppery cigar, then a peppery wine may fatigue your palate, causing you to become disinterested. Instead, consider complementary or contrasting flavors: A refreshing contrast to your peppery cigar might be something sweet, like a soda or port wine. An invigorating complement to an earthy, full-bodied Maduro might be a complex single malt scotch with lots of caramel-like flavors.
Don’t forget about “mouth-feel”
“Foodies” use this term to describe the texture of food. Cigars have a mouth-feel too, defined as their “body.” Consider the texture of the smoke: is it thick, coating the roof and walls of your mouth? Thena thicker beverage would better refresh your palate. Is the smoke “salty,” causing you to salivate? Something lighter and citrusy, like tonic water with lime, might keep things going.
Three more helpful tips
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! Sometimes going with your gut is the best decision.
When done properly, pairings result in an experience that’s more than the sum of its parts. Use this little bit of know-how, and you’ll be pairing like a pro in no time!
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- 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.)
- Coffee drinks
- Fine teas, iced tea, soda (pop)
- Mineral water mixed with fruit juice
- Tonic water with lime