Enjoying a fine cigar at Chaloner’s luxury cigar lounge is a relaxing, premium experience. With plush seating, billiards, and great company, enjoying a smoke at Chaloner’s can only be elevated when pairing your cigar with the perfect drink.
With nearly countless options from single malt scotch to bold Cabernets, it can be daunting to try and choose a drink that will flawlessly enhance the flavors of your cigar. Though pairing is based on personal preference, here are a few basics that can help anyone, from beginners to aficionados, find the perfect pair.
Pairing is all about balance. A great pairing will enhance flavors and highlight delicious notes in both your cigar and your beverage, rather than overpower or dominate your palate.
Most cigar experts will recommend bourbon, cognac, or dark rum with cigars, as their rich and woody flavors will compliment nearly any full-bodied smoke. It’s harder to pair clear spirits like vodka or gin, as cigars can easily overpower their mild flavor.
While these basic principles are a great starting point for beginners, they’re far from rigid rules. Finding a perfect pairing is subjective, but searching can be a fun experience. As you begin to discover the flavors you enjoy, you can refine your selections with a deliberate approach. There are two main ways to approach pairing- matching and contrasting- both of which have different effects on the flavors you choose.
The “matching” approach aims to match your cigar’s flavor profile with a similar drink. For example, if you choose a full-bodied cigar with notes of wood, espresso, and spice, choosing a bourbon with a similar profile will enhance the best flavors. Similarly, lighter or sweeter cigars pair well with white wines, light beers, and cocktails. You can also choose harmonizing flavors of the same family, like vanilla and caramel, to select a cigar and beverage that simply taste better together.
Sometimes, opposites do attract and contrasting flavors can make for a great pairing. Choosing a contrasting flavor profile can be tricky, but when done right, a pairing will heighten subtle flavors that otherwise would have been missed. If you’re smoking a peppery cigar, choosing a slightly sweet beverage might refresh your palate between draws of smoke. Bold and earthy cigars can pair well with bourbon that has butterscotch or maple undertones, creating a balanced contrast you can enjoy all evening.
Cigars and Coffee
Though the process of pairing may initially draw you to spirits, cigars and coffee make a delicious match as well. When pairing your cigar with a coffee, you’ll likely find the most luck with the “matching” method, as a strong cigar can overwhelm lighter coffee and the subtle flavors in a light cigar can be missed when met with a bold brew. Coffee can have just as unique notes and profiles as cigars so pairing the two can prove heavenly.
On a Wing and a Pair
Ultimately, choosing the perfect pairing boils down to personal preference. Even the most tried-and-true pairing might not be to your liking, but exploring new pairings is just as exciting as finding the right one. Pairing should make both your cigar and your beverage more enjoyable, so trying something new and discovering what you like is encouraged. The next time you find yourself within the historic walls of Chaloner’s Cigar House, our Certified Cigar Sommelier Tobacconists are always happy to answer any questions and help you find the cigar and beverage that make your perfect pair.
Certified Cigar Sommelier
Chaloner & Co. employee