Cigars are amazingly gratifying treats anytime, anywhere and pair beautifully with a wide spectrum of beverages. While alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and spirits always grab the limelight when it comes to cigar pairings, it is often the non-alcoholic beverages that provide the cigar enthusiasts with most of the daily joy and satisfaction. Coffee is of course the workhorse that churns out delicious adventures morning, noon and night.
Tea can also be a surprisingly balanced companion to a cigar, while soda can liven up any cigar experience. No matter your preference, there are magnificent pairings to be found in every nook and cranny of the non-alcoholic beverage category.
Pairing Cigars with Coffee
There is perhaps no better all-around compliment to a tasty smoke than coffee. History tells us that a goat herder witnessed his flock excitedly prancing about after eating berries from a strange tree. Soon these berries made their way to a monastery where monks discovered the berry could be processed into a lively drink. Soon thereafter this energy- infused liquid emerged on the Arabian Peninsula where the Arabs would cultivate the berry and develop it into what we now know as coffee. Eventually Pope Clement the VIII gave papal approval to the drink that emerged from a berry that would later be mislabeled a bean and the European coffee trade was off and running. With this came the rise of the Coffee house and the economic domination of coffee around the Globe.
The American Colonies were slow to embrace coffee, with tea still the preference. That all changed, however, with the uproar caused by over-taxation of tea, which culminated in the infamous Boston Tea Party. Coffee has been an American staple ever since and is now second only to water as the most consumed beverage on the planet. So what better way to enjoy a great cigar than with this legendary fluid!
Coffee is produced seemingly in every corner of the World, each region delivering its own unique character. Some of the most cigar-friendly are the rich, yet smooth Kona blends from Hawaii, highly-prized full-bodied blends of Guatemala, the aromatic Kenyan blends and the velvety blends of Indonesia. Other areas such as Ethiopia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia also produce sumptuously tasty coffee brews, as does the World’s number one producer of coffee, Brazil. A CAO Brazilia Samba is a natural pairing choice of course! One of the all-time great cigar-worthy coffees is a unique brew first blended by the Dutch using rich Mocha coffee beans from Yemen and lush Javanese beans to form the unique and immensely popular Mocha Java blend. This brew is simply the ultimate pairing choice for an opulent Avo Classic No. 9. There is also fine Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran coffee blends to be found that are simply ideal for pairing with the corresponding cigars of these famous cigar-producing nations.
The region is not the only factor that can determine a coffee’s character, but also its type of roasting. From light to dark roasts, coffee can exude considerable character that will pair easily with your favorite cigar. One of the most popular in the US is Medium Roast often referred to as City or American roast. This covers a broad spectrum of coffees that will be right at home with a good smoke. A CAO America Potomac is fine pairing choice, for example, to a fine American roast. Dark roast, including thick and savory espresso, is a popular European style roast that is famously enjoyed by the Viennese, the French and the Italians amongst others. These rich and boldly-flavored coffees will find glorious companions with Montecristo Media Noche, Nub Maduro or Alec Bradley Black Market cigars. Whatever your selection, rest assured, there is a cigar pairing just waiting to send your taste-buds into hyper-drive!
Cigars & Tea
Black, Chai, Green and Herbal teas can pair nicely with premium cigars
Tea may not be the first beverage that comes to mind when searching for a cigar pairing drink, yet tea can offer a uniquely satisfying experience to one and all. For thousands of years tea has ranked amongst the World’s most indelible beverages. From China to the Republic of Ireland, across the oceans and all points in between, tea is deeply entrenched the cultural identities of peoples everywhere. Tea varieties and blends vary as much as the nations that grow and process them, so a brief survey of the basic categories of tea will go a long way to understanding the pairing potential of tea and cigars.
Although there are numerous ways that tea is processed, there are four main categories that all tea can usually fall under, with the level of oxidation the tea leaves go through determining the category. The higher the level of the oxidation, the richer and fuller the taste will be. Black tea, for example, has a very high level of oxidation which imparts deep color and often flavors of dark chocolate, raisins and exotic fruit which pair exceedingly well with cigars.
A quintessential cigar-worthy choice, the Black tea category includes Ceylon tea and the ever-popular Irish Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey blends. Enjoy a Romeo y Julieta 1875 Bully with English Breakfast Tea for a fabulous way to kick off the day. Black tea can also generally be found in Chai tea, a tea usually infused with milk, sweetener and spices that can make for a most interesting cigar pairing choice.
Green Tea is another category that encompasses an astonishingly varied spectrum of tea, making it a wildly popular choice for tea drinkers around the World. The wide variety of Green teas makes for a diverse collection of flavors that will prove beautifully textured matches to a good smoke, especially those with Candela or Claro wrapped sticks or those with a pronounced herbal note. Give any of the Nat Sherman Host Selection cigars a try with your favorite Green Tea for a smooth and subtly sweet pleasure cruise. A wonderfully gratifying variation of Green tea is Genmaicha, a Green tea that has been infused with roasted rice which delivers a deliciously inviting flavor that pairs well with a Perdomo Mini Cigarillo Sun Grown.
In between Green and Black tea is Oolong tea, another category that imparts a wide-ranging spectrum of taste that can range from malty, dark cocoa to lighter floral flavors. The highest quality Oolong tea is among the World’s most expensive teas and can offer an amazingly gratifying experience with a premium cigar. Try a premium Oolong tea with a Gurkha Class Regent Torpedo for an amazing pairing. And finally White Tea emerges as rare and highly-prized range of teas that are among the healthiest of all teas.
Usually harvested only a few days a year, White Tea goes through very little processing and is rich in antioxidants, making it a soft and sweet choice that delivers intensely pleasing mild-bodied flavors and a silky smooth satisfaction with every sip. White tea also has the lowest caffeine content of any non-herbal tea. For a truly luxurious tea and smoke experience, try a fine Jasmine Pearl tea, which is usually comprised of green, black and white tea leaves that are rolled into small balls or “pearls” that expand and flower in water, imparting a sumptuously smooth drink. Pair with a Macanudo Gold Label Hampton Court cigar for a beautifully mesmerizing treat.
There are also herbal teas that don’t fall into the regular categories, but impart their own delicious experience to cigars. Herbal tea is a very broad category that incorporates just about anything that doesn’t come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. One of the favorites amongst cigar-loving tea connoisseurs is Red Tea. Red Tea is actually Rooibos from the root of the African Red Bush, delivering a pleasing earthy texture that is on full display when blended with vanilla, citrus or spice. Keep with the red theme and pair this delicious nectar with a Gurkha Red Witch Robusto.
Whatever your flavor, there is a tea to match your cigar. It really is all about what YOU enjoy. So light up your favorite smoke and pour your favorite cup of tea. The experience should be a most pleasantly relaxing journey that you can revisit again and again. And if tea or coffee isn’t your thing, but you still desire a deliciously warming experience, hot cocoa is a sweet and surprisingly complimentary cigar companion. A Drew Estate Natural Root Deluxe is a sumptuous pairing partner to hot cocoa any time of year.
When it comes to pairing cigars with carbonated drinks, it can be a tricky experiment so hold on to your hat.
Carbonation and smoke can lead to a rather tender tongue, so while trying to keep it to a minimum, soda can provide a most delicious change of pace.
With the advent of make-your-own soda machines, such as Soda Stream, it is easier than ever to control the level of carbonation and even blend flavors to achieve the ultimate cigar-worthy beverage. For more conventional sodas, Root Beer is the go-to choice for cigar aficionados and provides for a voluptuously satisfying respite. Try Henry Weinhard’s Draught Style Root Beer with a Padron 3000 Maduro for one of the best every day pairings. For more luxurious excursion, give Rogue Brewing’s lush Root Beer a go with the Jericho Hill OBS. Regular colas such as RC Cola or Dr. Pepper are also popular cigar pairing choices.
No matter your choice of beverage, experiment with your tastes and find what brings you the most sensory joy, so just sip and puff to your own delight no matter the time or place! Of course, if you have another pairing suggestion that you’ve tested to be great – we’d love to hear it! Let us know in the comments below.