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Stogie Tip: Choose Your Booze

23 Aug 2006

As I often get asked by readers and friends, “What’s a good drink to have with a cigar?” Well, unfortunately, I usually have to answer that question with a barrage of other questions. What kind of cigar are you smoking? What time of day is it? How goofed up do you want to get? And, perhaps most importantly, what sort of adult beverages do you normally like or dislike?

You see, pairing a cigar with a cocktail is no exact science. Just like the celebration of smoking a stogie, the whole idea is to just enjoy the experience and relax. You probably have enough other crap to worry about – so don’t waste your time agonizing over what’s the right cigar to have with the right drink. Doing so completely misses the point.

That being said, in order to maximize your enjoyment, I do have a few bits of advice to offer.

First, when choosing which booze to couple with a smoke, consider the strength of flavors in the cigar versus the strength of the flavors in the drink. A good general rule to follow is that full-bodied smokes should be paired with full-flavored drinks. After all, you don’t want a hefty stogie to completely drown out your cocktail, and you certainly don’t want your beverage to overcome your smoke.

This is a handy rule of thumb because it seems rational and it’s easy to remember. But as Jack Bettridge, an editor with Cigar Aficionado, points out:

Two problems persist with this rule, however. First, like all generalizations, it’s not always true. We’ve been pleasantly surprised in pairings when a big, ballsy cigar made a great partner for a light whiskey and vice versa. Second, it’s a rule that’s more useful for avoiding mistakes than for identifying sublime marriages.

Working off this strength-of-flavors tangent, my second bit of advice is that rum, whiskey, and brandy usually make the best compliments to a cigar. As far as flavors go, a stogie is a very heavy experience. Beer, wine, gin, and vodka are often too subtle to compete for your taste buds’ attention. This 2002 article from CA highlights some great rums, cognacs, scotches, and bourbons to pair with cigars.

In case you’re wondering, I generally prefer Meyers Dark or Chairman’s Reserve rum, while Semmens prefers Knob Creek or Blanton’s bourbon. Try any of those straight or on the rocks with any fine cigar and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Since so much has already been written on the Internet and elsewhere about rum, cognac, scotch, or bourbon and stogies, and since – from time to time – I enjoy other drinks with cigars, I thought I would share some not-so-mainstream couplings that have become tried-and-true pairings in my relaxation repertoire:

1) A light Macanudo Natural with a refreshing Tanqueray, soda, and lime
2) A smooth Romeo y Julieta with a crisp Estancia Pinot Noir
3) A mild Arturo Fuente with a clean Ketel One and tonic

Feel free to leave a comment and tell Stogie Guys Nation what pairings have worked best for you.

Finally, please remember to take all this “advice” with a grain of salt. Only you can know what drinks you’ll like best with what cigars. Fortunately, this requires a lot of trial and error…which means you’d better get busy drinking and smoking.

Patrick A


31 Responses to “Stogie Tip: Choose Your Booze”

  1. Anonymous Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 9:55 am #

    I'm not much for hard alcohol. Anyone out there found a good cigar/beer combo they'd like to share?

    • rknight777 Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      Last night I had a Camacho Toro with a coffee porter from a craft brewery in Ontario called Lake of Bays Brewing Co. It is a rich winter beer with coffee and a fairly heavy barley flavor. They certainly complimented each other nicely. I had this combination while smoking with my brother who combined a Partagas Serie D No. 4 with a Sam Adams Winter Lager which he also thoroughly enjoyed.

  2. Anonymous Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 12:42 pm #

    I’ve found screwdrivers and Ashtons to be a great morning combo. The breakfast of champions.

  3. Melissa Friday, August 25, 2006 at 2:45 pm #

    I like to pair a citrus pale ale like Hefeweizen or Blue Moon with mild cigars like the Macanudo Natural or with cigars that have nutty notes in them, like the recently reviewed Onyx. If you are more into the Stout beers, those would go best with Robust cigars.

    p.s. another photo of a woman not smoking a cigar??

  4. Sam Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 6:08 am #

    I am a fan of Tequila as well- by itself or as a margarita on the rocks and Southern comfort with Cranberry is nice as well.

    Nobody mentioned Port so I will. A nice Sandeman goes perfectly with a stronger smoke.

  5. Larry H. Friday, November 10, 2006 at 5:40 pm #

    I like full body red wines like cab, shraz or bordeaux with nutty medium body smokes, and port is exteemly full body, so it works well, as long as you rfavor the sweet flavor with a smoke. For beers, rich chewy ales pair well.

  6. Anonymous Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 10:58 am #

    Here in Vienna people often pair a cigar with schnapps. This may seem like an unlikely pairing; however, unlike vodka, schnapps can be very full flavored. The only problem is that the schnapps available in the USA is so limited in varieties. If you can find some good schnapps, which is likely anything that costs more than 15 bucks and has a decently high alcohol content, it may work.

  7. Brian Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at 9:57 am #

    I found that Warres White Port (not the easiest to find…) went nicely with number of cigars I've tried.

    I've never tried a Hefeweizen with a cigar, but I may have to. My guess is that a Hoegaarden and a well selected cigar would make a beautiful pairing.

  8. Pyth0s Monday, September 24, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    I pair most of my cigars with a Port.

    I have a collection of port mixed with red and whites which can create a finely tuned flavour between the two. Fonseca Ports 10 and 20 years are my sweet tooth favorites.

  9. Roadlizard7 Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 6:04 am #

    I would think an ideal pairing would be a good hefeweisen with a Macanudo Gold. They both have kind of a grassy, lemony taste. I'll have to try it soon.

  10. S Humphries Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I can't believe no one has mentioned The Dalmore Cigar Malt scotch. It is a good scotch that stands on it's own, but when paired with a cigar, it's great. I first tried this scotch at a tasting, but instead of a cigar, they provided dark chocolate, which they said mirrors the tannins in a cigar. Sipping the scotch on it's own, it was good. However, after taking a bite of the chocolate, the taste of the scotch changed for the better. The initial thought is that this scotch is a gimmick, but it's not. At $30 a bottle, it's worth a try.

  11. rickr Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Black or White Russians are my favorite with my stogies.

  12. Stephen Monday, July 20, 2009 at 7:15 am #

    I recently paired a Vesper martini with a Perdomo2 Limited Edition 2008. It was quite good. I normally prefer bourbon or scotch however.

  13. нeвecтa Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Познавательная тема, продолжайте. Иногда нахожу ответы, которые получить самому просто не хватает времени. Премного благодарен!

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