Eleven Top Picks for Non-Alcoholic Drink and Cigar Pairings
By Fred Lunt
Cigars hold one very unique trait that many new smokers don’t readily get to experience – good smokes have the uncanny ability to pair with almost anything you throw at them. Not only can you pair a cigar with a beverage or a meal but even a mood, or a special occasion. But while many occasions may call for a cigar, not every occasion calls for booze. Thus, I’ve compiled my top non-alcoholic cigar pairings; my friendly suggestions to you as a fellow brother (or sister) of the leaf.
I can’t think of any better way to start off the day than with a coffee and a nice mild-medium bodied cigar. While I can’t limit coffee to only the mornings, I think it goes without saying that you’ll most likely be forgoing a morning Scotch at work for a coffee instead.
When it comes to coffee & cigar pairings, a general rule of thumb has long been to match the wrapper shade of your cigar to the color of your coffee, as in the amount of cream you’re using. While a good rule on the whole, things can get tricky when you factor in the strength of the coffee and the fact that there’s hundreds of shades of wrapper out there. Let’s keep this simple.
Morning Smoke: French Roast with Montecristo Classic Churchill
Delightfully dark and loaded with pep, French Roasted coffee is one of the most popular blends on the market and a personal go-to of mine. A classic coffee like this calls for a classic and classy cigar with refined and smooth flavors to get your day going right.
Afternoon pick-me-up: Iced Coffee with Padron 1964 Anniversary Natural
Ask any connoisseur – you’ll very rarely go wrong with a Padron 1964. The natural Nicaraguan wrapper over all Nicaraguan binder and filler leaves the palate with notes of cocoa, black pepper, coffee, and a rich nuttiness that takes your iced coffee to a new level of refinement.
After dinner: Espresso with Aging Room Maduro
Dinner’s done, the check’s paid and you’re getting ready to drive home. There’s no better way to responsibly cap off the evening than by pairing a zesty espresso with Raphael Nodal’s Aging Room Maduro. With a creamy sweetness and complex notes of coffee, cocoa, leather, and dried fruits, this full-bodied maduro puts the cherry on top of any meal.
Tea ranks as one of the most commonly enjoyed beverages on the planet for thousands of years. While complexity may vary in tea, the general rule of cigar pairings and tea tasting remain the same: like coffee, match your wrapper with the color of the tea. Green tea will pair well with most Connecticut and Claro wrappers, while black tea will do well paired with dark natural or maduro cigars.
Rainy Day at Home: Chai with Oliva Serie V Melanio
We’ve all been trapped inside on a rainy summer day and sometimes the cabin fever is too much. Escaping the house for just an hour can provide some much-needed mental rest. A nice cup of cinnamon spiced chai can complement the rich notes of pepper, chocolate, and wood taste of the Serie V Melanio.
A quiet winter day: English Breakfast with Davidoff Nicaragua
A cold winter’s day can be brutal, but a stiff cup of tea softens those frigid temps and a cigar always adds a mellow touch. A spot of English Breakfast brings hearty richness with a floral, toasty, and honey-like aroma; pair with the woody and earthy notes of Davidoff’s ultra-creamy smoke and you can kiss those winter shivers goodbye.
An afternoon on the porch: Iced Sweet Tea and Baccarat Rothschild
While lying back in the hammock on a clear summer day, add a toasty cigar and a refreshing glass of iced tea and you’ve found paradise. The classic Honduran flavors of Baccarat Rothschild bring nutty, sweet, and toasty flavors in a mild body that pair with sweet green tea leaves perfectly. Grab a book and relax.
The lunch break smokes: Joya de Nicaragua Black Robusto with Dr. Pepper
Feeding time! We all crave that midday break to scuffle off with our colleagues and grab a bite. It goes without saying that alcohol is a no-go if you’re gonna go back to driving a forklift or operating on patients, so crack open a can of good ole Dr. P and spark up the dark and delicious Joya Black. A cult favorite among cigar pairings, Dr. Pepper’s famous 23 flavors accentuate the Joya’s creamy sweetness and notes of dark cocoa, oak, black licorice, and espresso.
Root beer with Jericho Hill
Ah, the classic root beer has been a lunch time staple since the old days of malt shops and 25c cheeseburgers. Why not mix it up a bit with Crowned Heads’ dark and delicious Jericho Hill? The smooth sweetness of the soda complements the sweet San Andres wrapper and the sweet molasses, cocoa, wood, and spicy notes from the all-Nicaraguan filler blend.
Mixed Sweet Drinks
Kicking it on the Golf Course: Arnold Palmer and Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur
Golf and cigars go together like bacon and eggs. Personally, there’s nothing better than enjoying the refreshing lemonade-iced tea combo of Arnie Palmer and the light and mellow flavors of Excalibur. Rolled Cuban-style, the buttery smooth US Connecticut Shade wrapper is complemented by a medium bodied Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan filler blend. The 6 1/8 x 50 Churchill should be big enough to last more than a couple of holes for your average golf outing, so take a few and share with your buddies.
Raking leaves in the yard: Hot Apple Cider and Inferno Scorch
Yard work is a bitch, but it sucks less with a cigar; add a touch of warm cider and voila! Be sure not to use an overly sweet and sugary cider when pairing cigars with it. A nice homemade cider with some cinnamon spice should pair well with the unique flavors of the Cameroon wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler the Inferno Scorch brings to the palate. Just be careful not to set the yard on fire.
A sweltering summer day: San Pellegrino Sparkling water and Perdomo Champagne Sun Grown
Staring down the thermometer on those 90+ degree summer days can be intimidating, but here’s a quick way to beat the heat. Crank up your fan and hit the deck with an invigorating San Pellegrino and Perdomo Champagne Sun Grown. San Pellegrino will refresh both you and your palate as you encounter the multi-dimensional flavors of the all Nicaraguan blend. Medium-bodied, this puro features an earthy/spicy aroma and complex notes of pepper, leather, cedar, coffee, and citrus.
Doing an at-home review: Mineral water + anything!
Read enough reviews to try them on your own? Give this tip a go on your review: pair the cigar with a cool glass of water. By doing this you’ll ensure no other flavors are interfering with the flavors you get from your cigar while still wetting your whistle. I often get a dry-mouth sensation from the smoke so a cool glass of H2O does the trick while delivering more accurate tasting notes – plus it keeps you hydrated!
Got any good non-alcoholic drink and cigar pairings that work for you? Share them with your fellow cigar lovers – and comment below.