Food & Drink

Creating Pairings for Drinks and Cigars

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

Famous Smoke Shop created a Cigar and Spirit Pairing Guide Check it out for some fun and easy to create pairings!

John Pullo

Editor in Chief

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."

Show all John Pullo's Articles