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Cigars and Food: Perfect Pairings
Top 9 Cigar & Food Pairings—See Our Favorite Combos!
There are few things more relaxing and enjoyable than a perfect cigar and food pairing. Problem is, not every cigar you light will hold up to the goodies on your plate. As Humberto mentioned in his article on using food to choose the right cigar for you, you’re better served when you ‘find a cigar to match your culinary preference.’
If you’re enjoying a heavy, spicy meal, it’s probably best to keep that milder cigar left in the humidor. Otherwise, the finish of your food’s flavor will overpower it and leave your smoking experience lackluster.
The other side of that coin has lighter meals like chicken, shrimp, or pasta. You don’t want to spark up a stronger, full-bodied stick because the opposite effect will happen; the cigar’s going to bury the flavor of the food. In short, mild meals call for mild cigars. Bolder cigars with heartier entrees, and medium bodied cigars for all the foods in between.
The goal here is to keep your food and cigars from fighting each other. Just like beer and spirits, cigars are a natural match for savory meals. I’ll show you how to get the most out of your cigar and food pairings below!
Mild Food and Cigar Pairings
Pancakes and Sausage | Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Who says lunch and dinner get to have all the fun? The right cigar is just as good in the morning as others are in the afternoon and evening. If you’re plopping a big stack of pancakes down on your plate, try pairing it with a Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet. The blend’s mild-to-medium-bodied temperament and creamy sweetness marinates beautifully with their fluffy sweetness. Additionally, Capulet’s smoke will add a woody, lightly spicy element to a side of breakfast sausage, playing into the meat’s already well-seasoned-yet mellow nature.
Shrimp & Pasta Alfredo | Espinosa Crema
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Buttery, salty, and sweet. Am I describing shrimp with pasta alfredo or Espinosa Crema? I could accept either as the answer. One of my all-time favorite Connecticut cigars, Crema (which lives up to its name) exhibits notes of cedar, cinnamon, earth, and pleasant spices. The flavors converge on the palate more like a dessert than they do a cigar. It’s like smoking a vanilla milkshake from a graham cracker cup. Excuse me while I go pitch that to Dairy Queen and make a million dollars. All that sweetness sits in lockstep with the shrimp, and contrasts the savoriness of the pasta and cheese sauce to leave no taste bud untouched.
Garlic Butter Roast Chicken | Plasencia Reserva Original
Unless you’re going with extreme levels of spice, Plasencia Reserva Original can accompany almost any chicken meal. Though it’s medium-bodied, Reserva OG goes toe-to-toe with much bolder blends. Expect notes of coffee, leather, moderate spices, and rich tobacco sweetness that highlights its Nicaraguan origins. And that’s why it goes so well with the umami, mouthwatering flavors of the garlic buttered chicken on your plate. I guarantee that the Plasencia Reserva Original will become your new favorite ‘seasoning.’
Robust Food and Cigar Pairings
Burger and Fries | AJ Fernandez New World Cameroon
Wrapper: African Cameroon
AJ might be best known for his fuller-bodied fare, but New World Cameroon shows that he means business—brawny tobacco or not. The cigar’s combination of sweet spices, white pepper, earth, and floral notes will complement a burger’s signature savory flavor while refreshingly contrasting the salt and starch of the fries. No one here is saying you have to go all out on some high-end burger, either. Whether it’s from the most exclusive restaurant in town, or from your favorite drive-thru guilty pleasure, New World Cameroon will serve you well.
Spaghetti & Meatballs | Arturo Fuente Sun Grown
Wrapper: Ecuador Sun Grown
The thing about pasta is that it’s kind of like the water of the food world—it’ll taste like anything you put on it. Add alfredo and it’s a cheesy delight. Add butter and olive oil and it’s a filling, savory treat. But add some gravy and meatballs…now you’ve got a classic. I’m basing my pairing on a sweeter red sauce. That’s because Arturo Fuente Sun Grown is naturally sweet itself. The blend’s core of vintage tobaccos ushers in an inviting aroma and rich, smooth flavors that will cool some of the acidity of the sauce on your palate. Plus, Fuente SG adds a layer of mouthwatering spices that’ll make the meatballs taste even zestier. You really can’t go wrong.
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
If you’ve been blessed with a Wawa nearby (it’s an east coast thing), you already know that the Turkey Hoagie is a comfort food staple. For those who haven’t had a hoagie, it’s like a sandwich and a salad all in one and then made huge. Lots going on in the flavor department thanks to turkey, cheese, lettuce, onion, peppers, and various dressings. La Gloria Cubana Classic has its share to boast about, too. Like many cigars, it’s woody and sweet with a tangy, citrusy element to it thanks to its wrapper. Gary called it “malty” in his review.
The LGC/hoagie pairing isn’t as complementary as the others. In this case, the cigar is contrastingly sweet and gives your palate a refreshing chunk of new flavor, like a chorus hitting at the right time in a song.
Bold or Spicy Food and Cigar Pairings
Porterhouse Steak | Padron Serie 1926
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
To square up against something as robust as a perfectly seasoned porterhouse, you’re going to need a cigar of a certain stature. Namely, a Padron. Honestly, any will do, so if you’d rather go with the cheap seats, their Thousand Series is fine. I choose the Serie 1926 for its time-honored tradition of extra-aged tobaccos that give the blend a solid boost in flavor. With Padron’s signature coffee and cocoa profile, along with a spicy array of pepper, earth, and dark wood, these cigars produce smoke that’s just as juicy and melts in your mouth the same way every bite of the steak should.
Braised Beef Stew | CAO BX3
While it doesn’t necessarily have the boldest flavor, braised beef stew is certainly hearty, filling, and requires a strong cigar to keep up. That’s why I chose CAO BX3, named for its triple Brazilian leaves. Thanks to all that yummy goodness in the stew, you’ll easily handle a Ligero-laden cigar like this. Indulge in exotic spices, a rich, orange-peel like sweetness, and a ton of dark chocolate, caramel, and earth. All of which will be the perfect palate contrast to your stew’s salty and savory elements.
Taco Night | Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
Depending how you make them, tacos can range from tame to “don’t use the bathroom for a while.” I’m choosing to go with the latter because if your taco isn’t making you sweat, you’re doing it wrong. Stacking up to the spiciest of these Mexican delicacies requires one of the strongest cigars. For that, I give you Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder. SD Founder, Robert Holt, will tell you that it was named for a medicinal plant, but I’m pretty sure I felt an electric current when I smoked it. As strong as the Ladder is, like a spicy taco, the complexity and flavor is worth bearing the heat. I tasted red peppers, oak, earth, and sundry spices with a sweet, floral finish. Pretty much everything you look for in a tostada—minus the shell.