Whether it’s cigar and scotch pairing, cigar and beer pairing or any cigar and liquor pairing, even experienced cigar smokers and spirit connoisseurs can find themselves at a loss when pairing cigars and drinks. In fact, figuring out which drinks to pair with cigars strikes many as a mystery. But it’s a mystery that can be solved using the tip of your tongue.
What drinks pair best with cigars?
It’s a great question, and the truthful answer is: Whatever you’re looking to drink. Some hardcore stogie smokers will say that you have to drink whiskey or you’re doing it wrong, but the fact of the matter is, if you know what you are doing, any drink you enjoy has a perfect pair.
That means whiskey, wine, coffee, or really anything else can be paired and enjoyed with the stogie you’ve been eyeing for your day off.
Why do cigars and whiskey go together?
There is something to be said about the craft, creativity and the aging that goes into both. The more you use your sense of taste, the better your palate becomes, which is exactly how cigar makers and whiskey distillers refine their expertise.
For example, a cigar master can smell and smoke one single tobacco leaf and tell you what type of tobacco it is, its country of origin, and how long it has fermented or aged.
Likewise, a master distiller can smell and taste a sample of whiskey and explain the aroma, flavors and proof. It takes years of practice to become a master at either skill, but fortunately, these skills can be learned.
Do cigars pair with wine?
Of course! While wine doesn’t share the rich history of association whiskey does with cigars, everything else about wine - the craft, aging, terroir, body and flavor notes - overlap so perfectly, one could argue they were made to be enjoyed together.
When we break down the two methods of pairing alcoholic beverages, keep in mind everything we say applies equally to wines as it does to whiskies.
Can I pair cigars with coffee?
Of course you can! In fact, we highly recommend it. But for coffee, we recommend reading our coffee and cigar pairings article, because the process is a little different.
Tips for pairing cigars and drinks
Generally, aficionados say the best spirits to pair with cigars are cognac, single malt whiskey, bourbon, rum, rye, and port.
While tequila makes for a nice partner, you may want to stay away from most white spirits, like vodka and gin, as the cigar can sometimes overpower the drink.
"Ultimately, balance is the key to pairing cigars and drinks. One shouldn't outdo the other. Rather, they should enhance each other. "
How to pair drinks and cigars
Let’s get down to it. There are two recommended methods in pairing alcoholic drinks and cigars. Neither is wrong it simply depends on your preference.
1. The first is that you should match body with body and do your best to compliment pairing notes. We’ll call this the “Complementary Method,” and you should know that this is what most people will tell you to do.
Basically, if you’re smoking a full-bodied and earthy cigar, you should look for a drink that is also full-bodied (heavy red wines, complex and earthy whiskies) to go with.
2. The second method could be used to maximize the flavors brought out in both the drink and the cigar. We call this the “Contradictory Method”. Essentially, choose a cigar and a drink that contrast each other in body and flavor, and they will bring out the best in the other. If you are smoking a mellow and sweeter cigar, drink a deeply rich and heavier whiskey or wine to go with.
The result is a smoking and drinking experience that heightens nuances of each other. Coming off of the lighter and airier notes of your cigar, the flavor notes of your drink will be exemplified.
Conversely, a rich and complex cigar will contrast with a glass of sweet white wine or a lighter more floral whiskey by bringing those earthy flavors out of your cigar.
Drink pairings are personal
Pairings are extremely personal. You may completely disagree with both methods of pairing (if you have another way, let us know in the comments).
But, for most people and for anyone new to the world of cigars, pick a method and try it out. If it doesn’t work for you, try the other.
Find your perfect drink and cigar pairing by using Find Your Perfect Cigar
Looking for the perfect pairing based on your drink preferences and cigar profiles?
Check out the Find Your Perfect Cigar tool.