Monday, February 22, 2010

Youve got your cigar, but what to drink with it?

This weeks post isn't a review, mostly because I didn't have time over the last week to review something new! Choosing what you will have to drink (if anything) with your cigar is always a fun topic of discussion among cigar lovers. You need to keep in mind the body of the cigar, is it mild or full bodied? You don't want to choose a heavy stout or cognac when having something really mild, or you will completely cover up the flavor. What you are looking for is a drink/cigar pairing that will compliment each other.

Lets start with booze free choices. If I am having a cigar earlier in the day, I have found that a cup of black tea or chai works perfectly with a mild/medium bodied cigar. As I am not a coffee drinker I usually stick with tea, but most of my customers at Bull and Bear seem to really enjoy their cigars with some sort of coffee. In the summer months, a glass of sweet iced tea is another of my favorites to pair with an afternoon cigar. Some people don't like the sweetness, but I like the contrast it offers to a spicier cigar. My most common non alcoholic drink with a cigar is usually Pepsi or Root Beer. I like the carbonation and flavor combo. I tend to stay away from citrusy sodas though when it comes to pairing them with a cigar.

Now onto the fun drinks! Beer. Good Beer. Not that mass produced yellow water served all too frequently. Now, I am not a beer snob (ok, maybe a little bit) but I like to select a beer that actually has some flavor behind it! The style of beer I drink with a cigar tends to be seasonal. In the warmer months, I opt for an amber ale like Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Brewing Company or Bell's Amber, Fat Tire, and any number of Brown Ales. I tend to shy away from hoppier beer, but many of my friends really like a nice IPA or pale ale with their cigar. I enjoy these hoppy beers, but not always with a cigar. In the colder months, its all about the Porters and Stouts. (my favorite style of beer) This winter I have really been liking Left Hand Milk Stout, Founders Porter, and Bells Porter. The malty, chocolaty, roasty, coffee flavors of these beers are an amazing pairing with a nice robust cigar.

When it comes to liquor, I am not the traditional cigar smoker that likes Scotch. In fact, I dont like anything in the Whiskey family, whether it be Bourbon or single malt. I think I am in the minority when it comes to that though, as most cigar smokers seem to love the peaty flavor of a single malt with their cigar. My favorite spirits with a cigar are aged rums, Anejo Tequilas, and Cognacs. I never really liked Tequila until I started sampling different Anejos, my current favorite is Trago. (made in Las Vegas of all places) For Cognac, I usually go with the classic Remy Martin VSOP. It isn't super expensive, and really delivers in the flavor department. I tend to drink Cognac in the cooler months, it just doesn't feel like a summer drink to me. Finally, there are your aged rums. A nice aged rum pairs perfectly with a cigar in my opinion. My favorites being Pyrat XO, which is a little on the sweeter side, and Ron Zacapa 23. The Zacapa is probably one of the best liquors I have ever had with a cigar. It is amazingly smooth and goes down way too easy. Another that I really like, is the Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos. It isn't quite as sweet as the others. The problem here is that this is a Cuban rum, therefor you cannot get it legally in the USA... All of these different liquors I usually drink neat, but in the summer I occasionally drop an ice cube in my rum just to mix things up.

Wine is another option. I really enjoy wine, mostly reds, but don't often pair it with a cigar for some reason. When I do, I usually go for a nice full bodied cab or sirah. I have found that certain white wines, usually the dryer styles, work well with a cigar as well. I can't honestly remember what particular types of whites though, as I am not a big white wine drinker. Port however, I really love with a cigar. Some people don't like the sweetness of a good tawny with a cigar, but I sure do! Taylor Fladgate 10 and 20 year are my favorites, but usually the 1o year because of the price difference between the two.

I am not a big cocktail drinker, but when I do pair one with a cigar it is usually the classic Cuban Mojito. This is one of the few citrusy drinks I think works very well with a cigar. The mint flavor is really clean on the palate, and the lime provides a nice zing to cut through the sweetness of the drink. Those who don't like a sweet drink with their cigars will probably not like this pairing though, but it is definitely worth trying.

There you have it! My guide to what I like to pair with cigars. What are your favorites?


Matt's Cigar Journal said...

I'm with you on the Rum and the Remy. They are my favorite spirits to pair with a cigar. I would love to one day have a chance to try some Havana Club. I also like a nice Single Malt Scotch though. I like the smoother more floral/fruity Highland Scotches though. Never been a fan of the peaty Islay types.

Just about any craft beer is fair game for me. i try to match the style of beer with the cigar and the time of year much like you do. I am willing to match up any type though. I love everything from the hoppiest IPA down to the thickest, heaviest stout.

Not really a wine drinker, but I will enjoy an nice Tawny Port or a vintage Porto on occasion. I also like a nice Cream Sherry with the right kind of cigar.

Non-Alcholic drinks... I generally stick to water and occasionally a diet coke.

Great post. this is always a fun topic of discussion.


Tampa Cigar Examiner said...

Non-Alcoholic favorites are water and Yoo-Hoo.

I enjoy a good rye or bourbon with a cigar as well.

David said...

Good call with the beer selections. I was just drinking Dogfish Head Indian brown ale with a cigar and wanted to switch to an IPA. It's the beginning of spring and about time to go a little lighter from the stouts. We'll give Troeg's Pale Ale a try. Thanks for the tips.