Pairing alcohol with a cigar is kind of like pairing food with booze. Knowing what ingredients you are working with, and the flavor profiles contained within each side of the pairing is essential.
Yes, you can keep it simple and opt for a smooth Scotch whiskey or top-shelf rum on the rocks and pair it with an array of different cigars, but when it's a bazillion degrees outside you may want something a bit lighter and refreshing.
This is where the whole "light-to-light, dark-with-dark" portion of the pairing puzzle comes into play. For 90% of the time, selecting a lighter or milder cigar to go with a craft lager or a refreshing summer cocktail can make for a winning combo.
The same can be said for pairing dark, oily maduro cigars with chocolate stouts, or even an iced latte with a couple shots of bourbon thrown in for good measure.
Additionally, opting to pair spicier cigars with corojo leaf inside with gin cocktails, hoppy IPAs, or even a robust red wine can make for a very pleasant smoking experience.
Our suggestion is to play around a bit but start off in the shallow end with cigars and adult beverages that you are already familiar with. Then, if you find yourself enjoying these pairings, and wish to dive a bit deeper, you can start to play with more unique/robust forms of alcohol and cigars.
Top Cigars to Pair With Alcohol
- Macanudo "Estate Reserve Flint Knoll" (mild yet not boring whatsoever thanks to being aged in chardonnay casks; perfect for pairing with white wine, lighter beers, or even a gin cocktail)
AVO "Classic No.2" (milky, mellow, and super smooth vintage tobacco-filled cigar; pair with lighter cocktails and wines, wheat beers, or aged rum)
- CAO Flavours "Eileen's Dream" (naturally infused with white chocolate truffles, Irish whiskey, and sweet cream; pairs great with almost any coffee cocktail, as well as milk stouts and vanilla-forward bourbons)
- Rocky Patel "Vintage 1990 (12 year)" (aged to perfection, with zero harshness or unpleasant aftertastes; a top pick for fans of red wine, but pairs well with any number of dark liquors, as well as amber and brown ales)
- Plasencia "Cosecha 146 La Musica" (100% Criollo tobacco filled, and brimming with sweet, earthy flavors; goes great with robust wines, maltier ales, and dark liquor-based cocktails)
- Diesel "Whiskey Row" (bourbon whiskey barrel aged tobacco balances this cigar's spicy finish beautifully; a whiskey drinker's dream pairing, may it be neat, on the rocks, or mixed-up in a glass)
Warped "Futuro 109" (shade-grown corojo leaf makes this a far mellower tasting full-strength spicy smoke; perfect for hoppy imperial IPA offerings, full-bodied reds, and any number of rye whiskeys or whiskey barrel aged rums)
Don Pepin Garcia "Black 1970" (spicy yet smooth, this earthy Belicoso is bold and brilliantly blended; ideal for pairing with older añejo tequilas, imperial amber ales, or even a Belgian Quad or a glass of cognac for those wanting a contrasting dessert experience)
Kentucky "Fire Cured" (smoked tobacco from Kentucky offsets sweet maple flavors within this chewy smoke; peaty Scotch whiskey and double-oaked barrel-strength bourbon drinkers rejoice, your cigar has finally arrived)
All that being said, please don't ever try and pair a really dark chocolate-like maduro with a dry Japanese saké, because certain contrasting extremes such as these will only result in you blowing chunks.
For a more in-depth look at pairing cigars with alcoholic beverages, check out our full feature on the subject of mixing premium cigars with alcohol.