Booze and stogies go together like Japanese monkeys and hot springs. Even when separated, each is pretty awesome on its own. But put the two together and–zingo!–you’ve got one hell of a dynamic duo on your hands.
But with the thrill of indulging in strong cigar smoke comes the concern of combining it with adult beverages. Ever seen someone with an intense head rush try to get anything done? It ain’t pretty.
Today, we’ll be discussing the safest and best ways to pair a cigar with alcohol, complete with a list of considerations for every taste and personal preference. Cigars are just as complicated as alcohol too, because snagging the perfect premium cigar blend to go with a certain cocktail or craft beer can be a real challenge.
Lucky for you, your friends over at Klaro Cigars have done plenty of pairing over the years. We’re more than happy to help point you, and your cigar, in the right direction next time you stroll into the liquor store. So let’s pop some bubbly and get to it, shall we?
So… Whatcha Smokin’?
Before you even step foot inside the liquor store or order a bottle of booze online, the cigar style you will be smoking should be taken into consideration. Granted, the benefits of having a medley of magnificent hand-rolled cigars delivered to your door every month may cause that humidor sitting in your house to brim with tobacco bliss, so we get it if choosing a certain cigar can be difficult.
Think of the occasion. Are you going to a luau? Bar Mitzvah? Rooftop DJ event? Bachelor party? Or are you just looking to relax at home and need something to keep you occupied while those St. Louis-style ribs cook to perfection on the smoker?
No matter what the occasion, recognizing the flavor, strength, and body of a cigar is vital to the enjoyment of your smoking experience. No one likes getting in too deep over their head in the strength and nicotine departments when not fully prepared. The same can be said for experiencing a lackluster stogie upon accidentally selecting a milder long-filler variant from your humidor.
To help eliminate these issues, we’ve put together the following suggestions for pairing cigars and alcohol:
- Mellower cigar blends pair best with lighter colored, milder, and lower alcohol adult beverages.
- Most brown liquor cocktails can be paired with an array of medium-strength cigars, and craft IPAs and Amber Ales always do well alongside a spicy corojo or habano.
- Save the sipping liquor, port wine, expensive vintage reds, and coffee-based dessert cocktails for heavily fermented maduro cigar wrappers, or a full-on ligero leaf Nicaraguan puro cigar flavor profile.
Choose your cigar wisely, and then build your alcohol consumption for the occasion around what you will be puffing on. That, or do things the other way around. It doesn’t really matter just as long as the tobacco blend and fermented or distilled side suits that stogie you plan to puff on.
Oh Good, You Brought Your Own Booze Too
Premium cigar blend selected, it’s time to do a little bit of adult beverage hunting, and maybe pick up a pack of sunflower seeds at the bodega on the corner.
But whereas the thought of cracking open a bottle of single malt scotch and pairing it with a strong stogie might appeal to certain people, there are a plethora of other avenues to explore in the world of cigar and alcohol pairings.
Below, you will find a series of suggestions and explanations to help you decide which tobacco and alcohol combo suits your personal preferences or the occasion itself. There are plenty of alternative options too, so just because we may not have listed your favorite liquor or cigar brand, doesn’t mean they can’t be paired with one another. Like long-filler premium cigars, it’s just a matter of finding the blend that’s right for you.
Long considered to be the go-to alcohol for pairing with cigars, especially when served neat in a glass or on the rocks, whiskey remains widely recognized as an ideal drinking buddy for legacy and boutique cigar brands alike.
But straight liquor can go straight to your head if you aren’t careful, so mix that bourbon, scotch, or blended whiskey with something refreshing, and make it a dash on the lighter end when the mercury rises. We recommend turning toward bright and refreshing summer whiskey cocktails, with the Kentucky Buck, Japanese whisky highball, or the ever-popular mint julep being but a few favorites.
Pairing Cigars With Whiskey
While any number of stogies will suffice when sipping whiskey, especially when the cigar tobacco is also aged in a whiskey barrel, it takes a bit more thought when attempting to pair a whiskey cocktail.
If you are opting for the refreshing rim of the whiskey glass, we’d suggest pairing your whiskey cocktail of choice with something mild, like a Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne Super Toro. This mellow yet flavorful claro has long been revered as one of the smoothest cigars on the planet, with each stick being based around tobacco that’s been aged in whiskey barrels.
Looking to sip on something stronger and prefer to puff on an equally potent puro to complement all that raw strength and flavor? Try pairing a sweeter scotch whiskey like the single malt rum cask-conditioned Caribbean Reserve from Glenlivet with one of Diesel Cigars’ Whiskey Row smokes. The binder on this cigar is ideal for sipping whiskeys, as it is aged in Rabbit Hole Distillery bourbon barrels. A clever concoction brought to you by the team at Rabbit Hole and none other than master cigar blender A.J. Fernandez.
Ah, rum. You sweet old soul. You’re more than just pirate drink, pina colada fodder, and punch bowl boozehound in our book. Built to be sipped, mixed, blended, shaken, shot, and savored, rum is without question one of the greatest liquors of all time, and it pairs wonderfully with most cigar types.
Pairing Cigars With Rum
Classics, like a Ron Zacapa 23 from Guatemala always strike the right note when served neat in a glass and are paired with the likes of an Oliva Serie V Melanio Double Toro or a San Cristobal Quintessence. But cigar and alcohol pairings of this caliber are intended for the frosty throes of winter. A time for resting hearthside, or for reserving for the latter end of an evening out, when it’s time to finish the night off on the right cigar foot.
Those in search of a mellower alcohol and tobacco punch should grab a medium-bodied cigar, and then look toward newcomers like Grander Rum out of Panama for craft versions of classic cocktails. You can also surprise whiskey drinkers by mixing things up, and reaching for a dark rum when whipping up an Old Fashioned. This spin on the traditional whiskey cocktail pairs beautifully with a sweeter, toothier cigar like the Quattro F55 Maestro out of the Aging Room portfolio.
Oh, and for the fans of stronger and darker tiki cocktails, try pairing that booze-laden ceramic tiki mug with something traditional, like an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature. That, or take a modern approach by torching a cigar from a boutique brand like Warped Cigar’s Futuro 109.
Tequila, in all of its agave-laden forms, has seen one hell of a spike in popularity in recent years, a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Forget licking sweaty mounds of table salt from between your fingers and waking up with lime juice still in your beard. Tap into the following cigar and tequila pairings instead of putting your life and dignity on the line. You’ll thank us later.
Pairing Cigars With Tequila
When selecting the right stogie to go with a sipping tequila, opt for a smoke that’s a little more on the spicy and vibrant side. For fans of fuller-bodied boutique cigar brands, Caldwell’s “Long Live The King” always delivers, as does the far more famous ”Decade Torpedo” from Rocky Patel. Try pairing either of these stronger cigars with something like a Don Julio 1942 and call us in the morning. But only if you can get up on your own volition.
Craft tequila cocktails pair incredibly well with cigars. Whip up a gourmet variation of the classic grapefruit Paloma and then accompany it with the ever-creamy Avo “Classic No. 2.” Or, if you are feeling a bit feisty, turn things up a notch (or ten) with the IPA-infused El Lúpolo. Give this craft beer cocktail an añejo backbone in place of a blanco or reposado undertone, then offer it an equally peppery cigar companion like My Father Cigars’ El “Centurion Toro Grande” for an unbeatable balance.
For cigar purists, we recommend something along the lines of a Sancho Panza “Dulcinea”, whereas all the hedonists will adore the balance that the small yet fiery Illusione “Mk Ultra Corona” imparts upon the palate when paired with a mezcal cocktail.
As the craft beer boom continues to grow, more and more creative brewskies emerge on the market. This can cause a bit of a conundrum for those who are unfamiliar with the art of pairing premium cigar blends with the many styles of craft beer.
Don’t get your binder and filler in a twist. Pairing cigars with craft beer is ultra-easy. Simply recall our three suggestions for pairing alcohol and cigars from the intro, and everything should work itself out organically. Just remember to support the small guys by opting for an offering from a boutique cigar brand to pair with that glass of suds brewed up the street.
Pairing Cigars With Craft Beer
For starters, look toward a milder smoke that’s along the lines of the “Amarillo Toro” from Dominican Big Leaguer, and then pair it with a crisp, lighter beer like a Kolsch, Pilsner, Blonde Ale, or an American Wheat Beer. A solid secondary “craft stogie” consideration is the “Highclere Castle Edwardian Corona” from Foundation Cigar Company.
For toothier ales, IPAs, and higher ABV lagers, reach for a spicier, medium-strength small batch cigar, like the torpedo variant of Espinosa’s “601 Red Label Habano.” There’s also Charter Oak’s “Broadleaf Lonsdale”, a boutique cigar brand staple that pairs beautifully with darker medium-strength craft beer styles within the Porter, Red and Brown Ale, Belgian Dubbel, and French-Style Biere de Garde categories.
As for the strong stuff, like Belgian Quads, Imperial Stouts, Scotch Wee Heavies, Doppelbocks, and Imperial IPAs, turning toward cigars that can both stand up to (and compliment) these sweeter, boozier beers is essential. You don’t have to go all-in on a full-bodied boutique cigar either, for there are plenty of stogies in the medium range that provide plenty of flavor.
Test out a Tatuaje “Havana VI Almirantes” next time something strong and hoppy is on the drink menu. That, or opt for Caldwell’s “The King Is Dead The Last Payday,” for a creamy, chewy, chocolatey, sweeter maduro cigar for accompanying that Imperial Milk Stout from Cigar City Brewing.
Wine and cigars share a deep connection, not just in their ability to blend seamlessly with one another when simultaneously consumed, but because they both are total tannin bombs.
Sure, whiskey barrels, tequila casks, rum firkins, and barrel-aged craft beers also contain wood tannins, but not the same way wine does. There’s just something about mixing fermented grapes with virgin oak barrels that brings out all that wood has to offer, without overdoing it like certain other forms of alcohol.
Pairing Cigars With Wine
Stick with a milder smoke when whites are in order, moving toward medium-strength cigars when selecting from an array of reds. Leave the handling of the heavier types of “vino confuso” to earthier and far more robust corojo, habano, and maduro cigar wrapper leaves.
Picking out a PicPoul de Pinet to sip while down at the dock? You’ll probably want something equally grassy to go with that white wine glass, so reach for either a shade-grown San Cristobal Elegancia, or swap smokes for a clean and crisp CLE Connecticut.
Mild-to-medium reds, like Argentenian Malbecs, Grenaches, Tempranillos, and the mighty Pinot Noir typically taste best when accompanied by a cigar of equal strength. Alec Bradley’s “The Lineage” in robusto form is a fantastic first option, as is the “Banker Currency” from H. Upmann.
When cracking open a juicy red blend, bourbon barrel-aged Shiraz, or a 20-year-old Tawny Port, it’s time to turn toward the heavy hitters in the cigar business. Try the cocoa-rich re-launched ”Murcielago Toro” from Espinosa, or go all-in on a 15-year-old Gurkha “Cellar Reserve Limitada Solaro.” Another fave for pairing with stronger red wines (and grilled red meats), is the ”CroMagnon Anthropology” out of RoMa Craft.
Cigar smoke can get toasty, so having something refreshing to slurp can help slake your thirst, all while simultaneously cleansing and prepping the palate and olfactory senses for another puff.
No matter what you sip, savor, shoot, slam, or spill on the carpet, chances are we’ve got a premium cigar blend to go with it.Check out the all-new Klaro Cigars 5-pack for designated bundles of top-tier cigar faves, or explore all there is to experience by opting-in on a KC Monthly Membership Plan. Either way, we’ve got your back when it comes to getting the most out of that alcohol and cigar pairing you have planned for next weekend.