Cigar smoking is more than just a luxury – it’s an art. Choosing the right atmosphere, time, and setting to smoke can seriously impact the degree to which you enjoy indulging in your Havana, but no factor impacts your cigars more than your drink pairing – what you decide to drink can either enhance or seriously hamper your overall smoking pleasure.
Read on to discover our top picks for the best drinks you can pair with cigars. We’ll be looking at everything from old-time classics to drinks you would not expect to pair with cigars that work surprisingly well. Let’s get to it.
Best Drinks to Pair with Cigars
This pairing is so popular that whiskey and cigar pairing workshop sessions can often be found at bourbon or whiskey conventions and festivals. There are many variations of whiskey to match the expansive selection of cigars, so it can be a very tricky thing to get right.
Single barrel whiskeys work best with most cigars, and due to their complex taste notes, they will keep your pallet active and in check while smoking a cigar. This means that neither flavor will overpower the other.
For more premium single malts – the ones that give off the smokey flavor – we’d recommend trying them alongside a Cohiba cigar. Another combination we’d recommend is Dalmore’s Cigar Malt Reserve – distilled exclusively for enjoying alongside a cigar – with the chocolatey Partagas Serie D No 4.
If whiskey isn’t for you, cognac would be an ideal alternative that offers a similar flavor depth without overpowering your pallet. Its smooth accessibility allows it to be one of the more inclusive pairings. Considering that both cognac and cigars are traditionally enjoyed after meals, it makes sense for them to be enjoyed together.
The one thing you’ve got to be wary of is how mature the cognac is, as a young cognac can be a completely different pairing from an aged one. VS Cognac means ‘Very Special’ and that the cognac has not been aged, for which we’d recommend medium or full-bodied cigars. VSOP means ‘Very Special Old Pale’, which you should only consume paired with a Maduro cigar.
Given that rum and cigars share roughly the same origin – both Cuba and the Caribbean – this pairing is quite an obvious one but one that has yet to become popular. Rum offers slightly more versatility than cognac or whiskey, as it is more commonly served with a mixer or in a cocktail.
Like cognac and whiskey, you’ve got to watch how aged it is when pairing it with a cigar. For younger rums, we’d recommend pairing with a light-bodied or otherwise particularly aromatic cigar. Save the aged rums for the medium or full-bodied cigars to balance out the sweetness with the harsher taste.
A pairing that is often overlooked and at times openly disregarded by some cigar enthusiasts, wine is a perfect way to balance out flavors. Given how poorly white wine tends to go with tobacco in any manner when paired with a light-bodied or aromatic cigar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well the flavors balance each other out.
For medium and full-bodied cigars, we’d recommend pairing with red wine, as they both complement each other in the fullness of taste. As for sweeter wines, such as rose, try them alongside cigars that have floral or fruity-tasting notes. Finally, for dry wines, pair them alongside cigars that offer earthy or wood flavors.
Like the other spirits listed in this article, how aged the wine is also has an impact on its pleasure in cigar pairing. We’d recommend that you try young wines alongside light-bodied cigars and aged wines with full-bodied cigars.
Of course, if wine is often overlooked, it’s not surprising that port is, too. However, port can also offer some unexpected pleasure when pairing alongside a cigar. The ability for this to be a good pairing relies entirely on how aged the port is. For the best results, pair a sweet, aged port with a full-bodied cigar to combat and enhance the flavor of the latter.
Although it may not be as rewarding a pair as other options, it is also possible to try out younger ports with light-bodied cigars, while focusing on the woody, barrel-aged aroma alongside the spiciness.
Like most cocktails, a martini contains a lot of alcohol, so it acts as an exceptional accompaniment to full-bodied cigars and cigars with heavier flavors. For those dedicated to gin, this is the ideal pairing for you.
For dry martinis, choose a premium cigar, such as the Davidoff Grand Cru, for an all-out classy experience. Otherwise, choose a cigar with notes of nuttiness or cream – anything to counter the citrus and floral taste of a martini.
Of course, a good old-fashioned latte or cappuccino would work, too, but where would be the fun in that? Making your coffee Irish certainly adds depth and refinement to the pairing. However, when choosing the pairing, it all comes down to the roast. This can be tricky, as both coffee and cigars have particularly strong, dark flavors that can easily overpower one another.
We’d recommend sweet cigars with a light roast and full-bodied cigars alongside a darker roast.
The coffee taste of Kahlua, whether it be in a Mudslide or a White or Black Russian, is sure to prove a worthy accompaniment to your cigar. Of course, save the stronger, more alcohol-filled concoctions – such as Black Russian – for the fuller-bodied cigars and the low alcohol Kahlua tipples for the lighter cigars.
Having read our list, we bet you are now raring to try some of our more off-beat suggestions, such as wine and port, to become the trend-setter amongst your cigar-loving friends.
Particularly with the cocktail suggestions, be wary of the pairing not coming out as planned the first couple of times. It may take some minor preparation tweaks for the combination to truly excel. As always, drink responsibly!