What is your favorite cigar pairing?

The Recluse Toro

There is much discussion regarding pairing drinks with cigars. Here's my humble opinion on the subject; please note these are my personal views - the goal of this post is also to hear about your own favorite pairings.

Water - A must if nothing else. Helps cleanse the palate and keeps the mouth from getting too dry. My go-to beverage when I try a cigar for the first time.

Scotch - Now we're talking! Another great pairing with all cigars, the flavors match perfect with cigars. My "everyday" favorite are: Isle of Jura 10 year and Glenfarclas 15 year.

Aged Rum - you haven't truly enjoyed a cigar until you've smoked one accompanied by some Zaya (drink it neat).

Other Booze - Sweet liqours like Bailey's and Kahlua work well. Dark liquors like whiskey, bourbon and cognac pair together as well. Light liquors and fruity liquors usually strike the palate wrong when accompanying a cigar.

Port - Tawnies yes. Rubies no. A good tawny has that oakiness and leathery rich body that pairs great with a stronger bodied cigar. My fave is Osborne's Tawny (cheap too!).

Coffee - Another great pairing. Any coffee goes good with a cigar, just be mindful to match the body of your coffee with that of your cigar. My fave has to be Larry's Beans (try the Mountain Sumatra).

Beer - Some folks like beer with cigars. I haven't found one that goes well with any cigar. Some like dark beer like porters and stouts as the richness and chocolatey-ness compliment the cigar flavor profile. But that's not the problem I have with beer and cigars, it's the hops. Hops have a bitterness/sourness to them that imparts those tastes onto the cigar. So a good cigar may taste sour when paired with beer.

Wine - My personal opinion is that wine does not pair with cigars. Period. Cigar Aficionado uses wine tasting cues to help describe flavors they get in cigars, but that is where the compatibility ends. Fruit and tobacco wreck the palate when combined for me.

Soda - This is a weird one. Regular cola soft drinks can be too sugary and distract from the flavors of the cigar. But for some strange reason, diet cola sodas work for me. Must be the aspartame. That said, folks have different reactions to aspartame, so this is just a recommendation based on my taste buds. Oh and of course fruity sodas like Mountain Dew and Sunkist don't work.

Apple Juice - this is a great palate cleanser. Seriously! Great for multiple smoke events.

What are your go-to pairings?

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32 Comments on “What is your favorite cigar pairing?”

  1. Whaddya mean wine does not pair with cigars?! Humbug! I very much enjoy a merlot or shiraz with my cigars. I prefer a nice whisky, but I’m trying to avoid killing my liver before I die, so I have to watch my consumption :)

  2. I really like my cigars with wine as well, although I must admit that this is not my favorite pairing (water and coffee are more to my liking). Red, powerful wine fromt the Rhone valley pairs well with full-bodied cigars.

  3. Simon Kelso says:

    Stone brew old guardian with any cigar pairs well

  4. As far as soda and cigar pairings, Virgils root beer I right up there with coffee for me. Not very sweet and has a little spice.

  5. So far my favorite pairings are Knob Creek Bourbon or Glenmorangie Scotch. I do like beer with a cigar as well but it does take away from the cigar a bit

  6. Great thought provoking post. Here’s what I like….

    Most of cigar smoking is done outside in the warmer monghths. I really have learned to know what I prefer with certain cigars and am happy to share my own thoughts. Keep in mind these are my personal opinions and everyone’s palates are different.

    If I am smoking in sunny hot weather then most definitely I will pair an ice cold iced-tea (sweetened of course) with my cigar. I find that this noy only refreshes my palate but compliments the salty twang left on my lips from most of the Cuban cigars I smoke.

    Later in the evening or if I’m smoking early in the morning, I like a nice double espresso shot Capuccino… This is especially good with the woodiness and semi-sweet flavors associated with Maduro cigars.

    As for alcohol, I never smoke with wine. I just don’t like the combination. I prefer to pair my wines with my meals.

    I don’t mind a good port with my cigars or when a nice glass of Royal Salute 21 year old or a Johnny Walker Blue or Green. Never on the rocks but along side a tall glass of ice water tokeep the palate cool … Never “ice” a great scotch .. Drink it with a side of iced water… Take a sip of the ice water to cool down your mouth before sipping youe scotch…. Same effect but won’t dilute your “good stuff”.

    Due to my arthritic problems and allergies to sulphides, my alcohol consumption is significantly reduced so only on the odd occassion will I pair with spirits but as I said, a good port and a great scotch are the go-to alcoholic choices.

    Maduro’s work well with a sweet cappuccino and those nice Salty lip Cubans I find really go well with a lemon or peach ice tea…..

    Great post.

  7. Orange juice with ice is great. Orange juice mixed with some Mango nectar and ice is my absolute favorite though. The citrus really cleanses the palate.

  8. After reading an interview with Pete Johnson where he said orange soda is his favorite pairing, I tried it and is now one of my beverages of choice along with coffee and iced tea.

  9. My favorite pairing is an XO Cognac!

  10. Regular Cola when having a more analyzing smoke, white wine for light to medium bodied cigars (ie Quai d’Orsay, Gloria Cubana, El Rey del Mundo with higher end Riesling or Chardonnay), reds for medium to heavy body (ie Le Hoyo series, Partagas, H.Upmann with higer end Bordeaux, Pomerol, Northern Rhône) for pairing, Oolong for suave!!! Whisky is heavenly but the alcohol kills any ability to even remotely enjoy a great cigar (IMHO)

  11. rabidgolfer says:

    One of my favs is a nice Fuente Short Story and a iced glass of Woodford.

  12. I rarely drink alcohol, but sometimes I enjoy a dark beer, like a Sam Adams Boston or Does Equis Amber. These seem to pair well w/ the full to medium cigars I prefer. Otherwise it’s either dark coffee or sweet tea. Never tried water, but I plan to now…and the apple juice trick is a good one to know! Are there any cigarette smokers out there? If so, do you feel this interferes w/ your ability to taste your cigars? I find it hard sometimes to notice the flavors of my gars..and I’m curious if the cigarettes are interfering w/ my ability to taste them.

    Great post topic btw!

  13. On my side, I found that a good Tawnie Port pairs well with a mild cigar. The tawnie offers just that right level of sweet and woodyness flavor that suits well a Montecristo No.3 for example. As for stronger ones, I do like a good expresso with Tia Maria(Coffee liquor)and a little milk added to it. It may seem strange and or awkward, but that orange soda beverage did well on my palate too.

  14. For me it is whatever rocks my boat at the time. I used to favor Dalmor’s “Cigar Malt” scotch with any My Father or a LaFlor Coronado when having an alcoholic drink was doable. Cigar Malt is no longer avialable, bummer. Normally I have a premium coffee with just about any stick will do the trick. Experiment with it, as long as you are happy I don’t thing there is a wrong pairing.

  15. I do enjoy coffee with a cigar in the morning. I also agree that I have never had a beer pair well with a cigar and will stop drinking beer on the golf course in order to enjoy my cigar to the fullest.

    I have found a wine that pairs well with a cigar, it is a California Zinfandel that was created with the goal of having a wine that would stand up to and go well with a cigar. It is actually called Cigarzin!

  16. I, like ScottyBoy above, am interested in comments on how cigarette smoking might interfere with really tasting the flavor of my cigars. My favorite pairing is Camus VSOP cognac.

  17. I prefer short finish beverages with my cigars. Drinks that coat the tongue (coffee w/ cream, vintage ports, even certain rums) alter the taste of a cigar for me.

    I tend to pair scotch with Bolivars, H. Upmanns and Ramon Allones. I like a very dry (gin) martini with Cohibas and Montecristos. I find Partagas go with just about everything!

  18. What a great site! I just recently started smoking recently, only a bout a year or so… But it is a great hobby, and very relaxing! I have to say I do agree with you about beer imparting a bitter taste, and also with the fact that sodas are too sweet. But just wanted to note something I’ve discovered as well. I’ve found that the fizz seems to deaden my palate after some time. I’ve also found that chocolate is an excellent palate cleanser, giving you a whole new depth perception of flavor. I like to pair my cigars with coffee, rum and whisky, in that order.

    Thank you for such a wealth of info! I’ll be a steady site viewer. You even inspired me to start documenting my own cigars adventures in a notebook.

  19. Thank you so much! I have been looking for a list such as this for awhile. This gives me something to work with.

    So far I mostly drink coffee with my early morning cigar before I go to work. I would recommend drinking only from paper cups and not any type of foam,styro,etc etc, as those materials have a weird taste and will more likely be the cause of death than a good cigar.

    I did drink a Stella Artois with a Gurkha Micro-Batch TPB 1 and I really enjoyed that pairing. I am not the only one. One of my friends on another site pairs Stella Artois as well so perhaps we are onto something. The Belgium brews do seem to be the best while smoking.

    I love Kahlua and will definitely get a bottle for the holidays. I was introduced to the fine art of cigar smoking last April and I am loving it!

  20. I would suggest unsweet tea. I usually smoke a cigar during my lunch break and I find that unsweet iced tea is a good nonalcoholic pairing with a short smoke.

  21. I like gimlets (gin+ a little bit of sweetened lime juice), it leaves a lot more “room” for the cigar than a whiskey or dark rum. White Russian is a great choice too, especially for montecristos.

  22. How about Tea? I recently warmed up some Arizona Green Tea with aPadron 2000 and truly enjoyed the experience. I think the honey used to sweeten the tea complimented the cigar perfectly.

  23. I do a nice strong coffee when smoking in the morning and it’s perfect. For the evening I can do beer but prefer a nice gin (keep a bottle in the freezer).
    An aged scotch is nice too but sort of getting away from it these days.
    I do agree with wine. I can’t quite get the two together to fully enjoy either.

  24. My favourite pairing is definately a nice Scotch served neat. I think that any of the Ilay Single Malts work well. They have a distinctly smokey-peaty flavour that really compliments a cigar well. My all-time favourite is a dram of Laphroaig 10 yr. or Triple Wood with a Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig.

  25. I usually pair my cigars with coffee, but Diet Barq’s root beer is also a favorite, especially in the summer.

  26. Cuban Pete 2012 says:

    A glass of Gordon’s Sloe Gin and a Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill

  27. A chilled, smokey, islay scotch is my go-to pairing.

  28. Beer from Innis & Gunn and a good cigar – it’s kind of magic ))

  29. I’ve tried whiskey and rum many times, but realized that they are too rough for me (even the smooth and mild rum, like Zacappa Centenario). Kills the taste of a cigar and all I can feel is the liquor. So I got down to porto (Ruby or tawny) and creamy stuff (Baileys or Carolans). Coffee with milk (sweet or not sweet) is also a good paring.
    Tried different sweet soda drinks as well, but it taste so weird and strange, so I decided not to waste any more cigars on those experiments.

  30. Hmm, depends on the cigar. Usually I light it up with some water, check out what the flavors are like, and move on from there.

    Sometimes I stick with just water, but my other regulars are green tea, sweet tea, coffee, ruby port (Graham’s Six Grapes or their LBV), and rum (Zaya or Mount Gay Extra Old).

    I probably drink green tea the most though. Green tea is a bit like cigars, there are lots of varieties out there, and they all are fairly unique in taste. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit enamored with green tea, it’s just such a good pairing, and so interesting in its own right. You also can’t go wrong with sweet tea, bless whoever first thought it up.

  31. Of all things, I stumbled upon licorice root tea…

  32. I dunno..

    I am not an alcohol drinker, so I can’t comment on that. Coffee: its like God intended cigars to be enjoyed with coffee – its a perfect combo that ALWAYS works. Never fails.

    But, maybe I am weird, but Mountain Dew also seems to go great with most cigars.

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