Beer, wine and spirits always make for grand cigar companions, whether on the town or relaxing at home. Sometimes occasions or moods call for a little more pizazz to cigar and drink pairings. When it comes to succulent liqueurs and mixed drinks, your favorite cigar can always find a symbiotic partner to awash your taste-buds in goodness. It just takes a little experimenting to find that perfect fit.
Go ahead and breathe in the entire guide to cocktail and cigar pairings below. Or, if you’re looking for a specific type of alcohol that you need some pairing tips for, use the links in this handy glossary with some of the most common spirits we get asked about:
Pair Cigars with Cocktails
With all the different types of potent potables available these days, the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to mixed drinks. From light and sweet to in-your-face bold, there is a cocktail to suite your taste, personality and mood, no matter the time or place.
Rum is an intensely popular cigar pairing partner that has a close relationship with cigars. Travel to any cigar-producing nation in Latin America and it’s a pretty safe bet you will also find Rum. Whether Cuba, the Dominican Republic or beyond with their histories intertwined, Rum stands side-by-side with cigars. Firm enough to handle almost any cigar, yet with subtly sweet and spicy nuances,
Rum is a go-to choice for many cigar aficionados. Crisp light Rums will liven up any gathering, while well-aged Dark Rums draw an amazing amount of depth and flavor out of a cigar. A versatile choice for just about any cigar or food pairing, Rum will always prove a fine selection.
One of the absolute best cigar Rums, St. Vincent Distilling’s Captain Bligh XO is a stellar companion to a Kristoff Corojo Limitada Churchill. For an all-Montecristo affair, the Montecristo 12 Year Aged Guatemalan Rum is the perfect pairing partner with a Montecristo Epic Robusto. Pusser’s Blue Label Rum is a popular choice amongst casual Rum-loving cigar enthusiasts, as is the uber-popular Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.
If you are looking to pair your favorite Dominican cigar with a Dominican Rum then look to either Barcelo or Brugal for a wide range of sumptuous cigar-friendly Rum options. And of course for old-school fans there is simply no other choice than Bacardi. A Rocky Patel Royale Colossal makes for an intensely delicious pairing with Bacardi Black. Or for the lighter, dryer side, enjoy Bacardi Superior with a 5 Vegas Classic Corona.
For something a bit more outside the box, try the distinctive Brazilian take on Rum, Cachaca. Although Brazilian law makes a distinction between Cachaca and Rum, this national drink of Brazil is made from sugar cane and delivers all of the tantalizing hallmarks of Rum. For a Brazilian-inspired jaunt, enjoy a dashing Cachaca Rochina 5 Years Aged with a CAO Brazilia Box Press while you debate whether Cachaca is or isn’t Rum!
Cuba Libre Pairing
When it comes to cocktails and cigars there are a few go-to drinks that seem tailor-made for cigar enthusiasts. The classic Cuba Libre (a fancy way of saying Rum and Coke with lime), has been coupled at the hip with cigars for generations. A drink that is looked down upon with vicious sneers by the trendiest of bars, the Cuba Libre has maintained a rock steady following amongst cigar enthusiasts.
The Cuba Libre is simply a solid cigar companion that will always deliver. Try 10 Cane, Zaya or Appleton Special Gold Rum with Coke to create the quintessential cigar aficionado’s favorite. For a more distinguished Cuba Libre, use Mount Gay Extra Old Rum for an amazingly deep and luscious cocktail.
Mojitos and Cigars
Another Rum-based libation, the Mojito is as refreshing a cocktail as there is on a warm day and a steady cigar performer as well. Crisp and minty, a good Mojito will accompany lighter smokes with gratifying panache. The key to a great Mojito is fresh ingredients, especially mint and lime juice, muddled together with determined precision. Try a Mojito made with Montecristo Light Rum and paired with a Graycliff Emerald PG for a delightfully refreshing escape.
Gin is not the first spirit that comes to mind when it comes to cigar pairings, yet every day more and more dedicated enthusiasts pour these botanical-infused potables with a wide range of cigars. For the traditional route, many will go for Tanqueray, Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire. For a modern and playfully luxurious experience, savor the delights expounded from Monkey 47 Gin with an Acid Liquid by Drew Estate. Or for a super smooth and uniquely Scottish take on Gin, give Hendrick’s Small Batch Gin on the rocks a whirl.
Vodka is not the most celebrated of cigar partners, but can be a very rewarding, if tricky, pairing decision. Vodka can lend an enticingly clean contrast to deeply complex smokes, yet will often work well with mellower bodied smokes. You will simply have to decide what works best for you, but if Vodka is your choice then options abound. Made from grapes, Ciroc Vodka will impart a subtly sweet nuance to a cigar pairing. An old standby for many cigar aficionados, Ketel One on the rocks with a Romeo y Julieta Bully is always a solid choice. And the all-American Hangar One Vodka is another rewarding pick.
Moving into the realm of Martinis, there are many fantastic cigar options. With just about anything passing as a Martini these days, however, the experience can be as disastrous as it can be rewarding, so you can mind your choices here or just throw caution to the wind and have at it. For those who prefer to stick with the old standards, then there are plenty of cigars ready for pairing.
The classic Vodka Martini is as steady as they come and will prove a clean and easy partner to many of your favorite smokes. You can “Dirty” a Martini with olive brine (or juice) for a livelier sensory experience. Try a Dirty Grey Goose Martini with an Arturo Fuente Exquisitos for a marvelously silky escape. And if you are of more adventurous stock, then try a sweet and spicy journey with an Alec Bradley Family Blend VR1 and a Sweet Jalapeno Martini made with Vodka, fresh-squeezed lime juice, sweet & sour and sliced jalapenos as a garnish. Whether you like it shaken or stirred, there are Martinis of every conceivable kind, so the possibilities are truly wide open!
Margaritas are one of the most popular and easy to drink cocktails on the planet, yet they are also a wildly delicious companion to a good cigar. Using only the finest tequilas to create a cigar-worthy Margarita, almost any cigar will add lusciousness to the already mouthwatering experience. Try a Cadillac Margarita using your choice of top shelf Reposado Tequila with Grand Marnier and rimmed with sugar instead of salt for a joyous pairing with a Partagas Robusto. Margaritas can be made in just about any flavor, so don’t hesitate to venture out of your comfort zone. Mango, Cucumber-Melon, Huckleberry, Green Tea, you name it there is a margarita waiting to be made.
Truly the sky is the limit. Just remember we aren’t trying to drown out the cigar, yet complement it. And Margarita’s tend to work better with cigars when on the rocks, but if blended is your style then go with what brings you the most pleasure!
Tequila Cocktails and Cigars
If it is just too cold to enjoy an icy Margarita, then it’s time to turn to another tequila-based option. A Mexican Coffee is as perfect a cigar drink as there is, delivering luscious coffee, cocoa and nutmeg notes that simply ooze onto the palate to enhance nearly any cigar you happen to choose. Many recipes use only Kahlua or similar liqueurs in the making of this warming libation, yet Tequila is what sets a truly great Mexican Coffee apart from all the rest. Enjoy this sumptuous treat with a Cohiba Black Corona to cap off the perfect evening.
Mezcals and, more specifically, Tequilas (Mezcals made from the Blue Agave plant), are connoisseur favorites that also bring magnificently textured pleasure to a good cigar. Sticking with refined spirits that are meant to be sipped rather than shot down the hatch will make for a much more luxurious and enjoyable experience. From well-aged Extra Anejo or a young and clear Blanco, Tequila will always add a little zest to any cigar-smoking occasion, especially after a tantalizing gourmet Mexican feast.
Try a snifter of the voluptuous Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia with a Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo Ponderoso for one of the best after dinner options around. Sip on a chilled Patron Silver with a pineapple back while you savor a Camacho Criollo Robusto for another delightfully smooth endeavor. Rock legend Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Tequila Reposado is a popular choice for cigar lovers, as is Arette El Gran Viejo Extra Anejo Tequila which, when paired with a Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro Torpedo, makes for an intensely delicious escape.
Stepping out of the Tequila limelight, Mezcals impart their own distinct nuances to the cigar experience. With varying tastes depending on the region, most Mezcals will have a thick smoky character, making them ideal for cigar pairings.
Give a Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal a try with Drew Estate’s Acid Kuba Kuba.
Bailey’s Irish Creme – Irish Coffee
Another cigar-friendly Coffee-infused cocktail, an Irish Coffee, is grand selection for after dinner cigar pairings or if you just need a little something to keep you warm. Add Bailey’s Irish Cream to the mix and you have a seriously delectable treat that unload waves of goodness upon your sense, especially when matched with a Partagas Cifuentes Diciembre.
Some other cigar-worthy concoctions are sure to get a few votes from cigar aficionados as well. An Old Fashioned and a Dunhill Signed Range Corona is crowd-pleasing combo.
The classic Manhattan is a cigar-friendly standard as well. A rusty Nail made with Drambuie, Angostura Bitters, Scotch Whisky and lemon peel, makes for a delightfully savory cigar-pairing partner with an Ave Maria Lionheart.
But Wait – There is More!
A well-known “shooter”, Schnapps can liven up any cigar experience for those looking for a little more kick to their cigar escape. With endless flavor options, there are Schnapps to match just about any tastes you desire. A particular connoisseur favorite is Akvavit, the Scandanavian Schnapps. A tasty cigarillo with an ice cold nip of the Danish Aalborg Akvavit is a refreshingly spirited adventure for all those hearty enough to give it a go.
Absinthe, that most notorious of spirits, is another interesting cigar companion that has been gaining in popularity. The Absinthe available today is a far cry from the infamous libation of yesteryear, as many will find the flavors much more luxuriously refined. The ritual of dissolving sugar and water into the Absinthe is a mesmerizing parallel to the ritual of lighting cigars, making for a most intriguing pairing experience.
For a traditional Absinthe endeavor, Pernod Absinthe is a must. American-made Vilya Spirits Extrait d’Absinthe Verte is a wonderfully modern Absinthe. While Letherbee Charred Oak Absinthe Brun is perhaps one of the best suited for cigars, as the wood-aged libation delivers many intensely pleasing flavors found in today’s popular smokes.
Pairing Cigars with Cordials
Cordials, or Liqueurs, are amazingly diverse choices to pair with good cigars and will provide for moments that are at once relaxing, entertaining and gratifying. Since we all have different tastes, it just wouldn’t do to try and elaborate on each and every possibility. So, we will just cover some of the popular cigar-friendly libations, as well as a few that fly under the radar.
Of the liqueurs you will usually find in a cigar aficionado’s line-up, Kahlua, Frangelico, Di Saronno and Grand Marnier are mandatory classics that always produce fantastic cigar smoking experiences. No matter what you have in your rotation, you should have no trouble finding a liqueur to match your favorite smoke. An Alec Bradley American Sun Grown Robusto and the Scotch Whisky-based Drambuie served neat makes for a delightful pairing.
Since blending cocktails are a little bit science, a little bit bravery and a whole lot of trial and error, there really aren’t any rules to break. So roll up your sleeves, fire up a stogie and savor the search for the perfect cigar cocktail that is yours and yours alone!