5 Great Cocktails to Pair with Cigars – Part 1

5 Great Cocktails to Pair with Cigars – Part 1
Date: June 2023
Author: Inspector X

During covid I was bored. So I watched a lot of television and a lot of old episodes of Bar Rescue, where ‘the Gordon Ramsey of the bar industry’, Jon Taffer rescues failing bars. A concept that Gordon Ramsey also uses in Kitchen Nightmares and I remember watching Hotel Impossible many moons ago where failing hotels were rescued by a hotel expert. But Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Impossible aside, while watching Bar Rescue I noticed they created cocktails in every episode. That looked delicious and fun to do, so I got myself a cocktail kit and started experimenting. It quickly became a hobby and I love making cocktails for my wife and my friends.

But there is a downside to becoming a amateur mixologist. Most cocktails at bars are not up to my standards anymore as I know how to improve them, and taste when they use poor quality ingredients such as commercial bottled juices instead of freshly squeezed juice. Plus the liquor cabinet explodes, as you will need ingredients that you don’t use often but those bottles (like absinth, Chartreuse, bitters and other liqueurs) take up a lot of space.

Often people ask me “what is your favourite cocktail” or “what is the best cocktail to pair with a cigar”. These questions seem similar but aren’t. Some of my favourite cocktails are citrus forward and citrus forward cocktails are hard to pair with cigars. I also like the Miami Vice, but it’s not a cocktail I will recommend here as it’s quite some work. Plus it’s also a personal taste thing. I am not a fan of spirit forward cocktails, where all of the ingredients are spirits. So don’t expect me to answer Martini, Negroni, Manhattan of something similar while there are others who swear by a negroni with their cigar.

So here are 5 recommendations of cocktails to try with a cigar. Since I made lists for whisky cocktails, rum cocktails and gin cocktails before, I made a selection from the cocktails I made for cigarinspector from the other spirits I tried. Recommendations are in random order by the way. Let us know in the comments what your favourite cocktail is from this list or if you have any recommendations for me to try.

Honey & Smoke Mezcal

Before starting the series of cocktail and cigar pairings, I had no experience with mezcal. After some bad experiences, I feared tequila and placed mezcal in the same category. But this cocktail made me fall in love. Unfortunately, this cocktail is impossible to find in the bars that I visit, so if I want it, I have to make it myself.

On the nose this is ginger and lime, with a little smoke. All quite muted due to the ice. The sweetness of the honey, the freshness of the lime, the spice of the ginger and the smoke of the mezcal all work together like they are part of one big happy family. This is one hell of a balanced cocktail while each of the components is still recognizable. Wow, every sip I take blows me away, this is amazing. And even though the lime is definitely playing a part, I see plenty of potential of pairing this with a cocktail. Something stronger, Nicaraguan with earthy or peppery notes.
And now for the Honey & Smoke Mezcal recipe:
1 ounce or 30ml of honey syrup
2 ounces of 60ml of Reposado Mezcal
2 ounces or 60ml of Ginger beer
½ ounce of 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Pour the honey syrup, mezcal and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a double rocks glass over fresh ice and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime slice.

Long Island Iced Tea

This classic has a bit of an unknown origin. There are several stories about how and where this drink was invented. But it is a high alcohol cocktail that can get you drunk really fast. It is a balanced cocktail and therefore you won’t taste that it’s so potent. It is also a cocktail I made several times for the cocktail & cigar pairing articles, with different brands of gin, vodka, tequila and rum. But every time this cocktail gets me places due to the insanely high alcohol content.

The nose is lemony because of the garnish. I added some ice and that mutes the other aromas. The vanilla, caramel and carbonation of the coca cola are mixes well with the lemon juice. All the alcohol makes it confusing; do I taste the gin or is it the vodka, the bite, is that the tequila or the white rum? The only thing that’s not confusing is the mild orange flavour, that comes from the triple sec. This is a cocktail I like a lot. Complex, balanced, sweet and tart, and it goes great with a medium bodied cigar.

And now for the Long Island Ice Tea recipe:
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of Vodka
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of White Rum
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of silver tequila
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of Gin
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of triple sec
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of simple syrup
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Cola, to top
Garnish: lemon wedge
Add the vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup and lemon juice to a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of the cola and stir briefly. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve with a straw.

Batida Rosa

Say cachaca and people will reply with Caipirinha, but to be honest, I prefer a batida rosa when it comes to cachaca cocktails. In my opinion, the Batida Rosa offers more complexity and is an easier drink than the Caipirinha, but I do understand why the latter is more popular as it’s easier to make with lesser ingredients.

This cocktail looks like summer. A beautiful red colour with an orange peel in a wine glass with ice. The nose shows the cachaca but now with a little bit of orange. Due to the grenadine, it tastes like summer too. Fresh because of the pineapple juice, lemon juice and the grenadine, but still boozy enough because of the cachaca. The club soda lightens the cocktail and makes it well balanced, except for the grenadine. That is a bit too strong, a bit too sweet. But it is a nice cocktail to pair with a nice medium bodied cigar. And that could be something creamy something with a bit more bite.

And now for the Batida Rosa recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Cachaca
1 ounce or 30ml of Pineapple juice
½ ounce or 15ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of grenadine
1 ounce or 30ml of club soda
Garnish: orange peel
Add the cachaca, pineapple juice, lemon juice and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a wine glass over fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with an orange peel.

Tequila Sunrise Mimosa

To write about cocktail and cigar pairings and not include a cocktail with sparkling wine would be odd. As sparkling wines such as champagne, prosecco and cava go so well with cigars. When it comes to sparkling wine cocktails, the mimosa is probably the most famous creation. But you can get more creative with the mimosa. To kick your mimosa game up a little, you can make the Tequila Sunrise Mimosa. That’s a combination of two world famous cocktails. And no matter if you like tequila, the looks of this cocktail is always very cool with the red and yellow colours.

The difference on the nose with the Mimosa is huge. Where the aroma on the Mimosa is purely orange juice, this Tequila Sunrise Mimosa clearly benefits from the tequila. The ethanol is quite strong over the orange juice aroma. The tequila also gives this cocktail character with a bit of a bite. Add in the freshness and tart of the orange juice, the fruitiness of the sparkling wine and the sweetness of the grenadine and this is one huge step up from a classic Mimosa. The tequila seems to bring the sparkling wine more to the surface as well. This will go well with a medium to full bodied cigar.

And now for the Tequila Sunrise Mimosa recipe:
1.5 ounces or 45ml of Tequila
1.5 ounces or 45ml of Sparkling wine
3 ounces or 90ml of freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash of grenadine
Pour the tequila in the flute first, followed by the prosecco and top the glass up with orange juice almost to the top. Then add a splash of grenadine to create the sunset effect. You can garnish this with half an orange wheel if you like.

Port Lemonade

Port is amazing and such an underrated drink. In my opinion, it is the best of all the fortified wine varieties available nowadays. I don’t drink it often, but every time I take a glass of port, I wonder why I don’t drink it often as it is such an amazing drink. Pair a glass of port with some homemade lemonade and vodka and you’ll be in heaven.

With lemonade you expect a bright yellow drink but due to the port this drink is more a cloudy amber cocktail. There is a mild liquorice aroma from the port. This is a confusing cocktail as all ingredients are equally detectable. The tardiness of the lemonade, the booziness of the vodka and the raising and liquorice of the port. It is well balanced, and it will go well with a lot of cigars. Something with a Habano or Corojo wrapper.

And now for the Port Lemonade recipe:
1 ounces or 30ml of Penfolds Grandfather port
1 ounce or 30ml of Vodka
2 ounces of 60ml of lemonade
½ ounce or 15ml of simple syrup.
Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice.

Homemade lemonade recipe:
1 cup of (caster)sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of lemon juice
boil the water with the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Once it’s all dissolved, add the lemon juice and the simple syrup in a pitcher. Add 2 to 3 cups of cold water and a few slices of lemon. Stir and enjoy.

Leave a Reply