5 Great Gin Cocktails to Pair with Cigars

5 Great Gin Cocktails to Pair with Cigars
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 gin based cocktails to try with a cigar. Recommendations are in random order by the way. Let us know in the comments what your favourite gin based cocktail is from this list or if you have any recommendations for me to try.

Gin & Tonic

The classic cocktail, probably the most famous cocktail in the world and one of the most popular ones at the moment too with the whole gin revival of the last few years. I estimate I made twenty different gin & tonic varients for cigarinspector.com as it is my benchmark cocktail for each and every gin I try. And of course, with so many different gins, the recommended cigar changes. A navy strength gin isn’t the same as an old Tom or a London Dry. And that changes the recommendation, let alone when we move into the more exotic gins from the Philippines, Singapore, Japan or other non-traditional gin countries. But no matter what gin you try, a gin & tonic is always a great friend of a cigar, just try to find a cigar that matches the style of gin you’re using in this cocktail.

And now for the gin tonic recipe:
2 ounces of 60ml of gin
4 ounces or 120ml of Tonic water
Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic and stir gently.

Gin Fizz

The fizz is a school of cocktail that features a spirit alongside citrus, sugar and sparkling water. If that sounds like a sour, plus soda, that’s because it is. Both drinks often contain egg white, too. The first printed recipe for a Gin Fizz appeared in the 1876 edition of “The Bar-tenders Guide” by Jerry Thomas. It’s basically the frothy, bubbly, protein-packed cousin to the Tom Collins, which combines gin, lemon, sugar and soda.
As expected, this is a cocktail that has a lot of lemon on the nose. But surprisingly, the flavour of the lemon isn’t that strong. The club soda gives it a nice sparkling sensation, the egg white creates a creamy mouthfeel while the sugar syrup balances the lemon and the gin gives this cocktail body and a bit of juniper flavour. This is an amazing cocktail and even with the lemon it is very well to pair with a cigar. A medium bodied cigar, possibly with a Habano wrapper.

And now for the gin fizz recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of gin
1 ounce or 30ml of Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ ounce or 22½ml of simple syrup
1 egg white
Club soda to top up
Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white to a shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice) for about 15 seconds. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and shake vigorously until well-chilled. Double-strain into a chilled Collins glass and top with club soda.

Bramble

I love blackberries and the moment I learned about the Bramble I knew I had to get myself a bottle of Crème de Mure. Crème de Mure is a blackberry liqueur and there are several different types on the market. The one I found has a cognac base. But you can even make it yourself with fresh blackberries, wine, gin or vodka. And trust me, I will get myself a replacement bottle soon, as the Bramble is quickly becoming my go to easy cocktail at home.

The aroma of the cocktail itself is completely hidden by the cold of the crushed ice so all I smell if the lemon and blackberry from the garnish. But the flavours aren’t hidden or masked by anything. This cocktail offers a perfect balance between the fruity sweetness of the berries, the lemon tardiness and the botanicals, spices and herbs in the gin. This cocktail is fresh and flavourful, perfection in a glass. This cocktail needs a cigar that is subtle, well rounded and balanced and for that you have to look into cigars with some age. Of course, you can smoke a fresh cigar as well, something stronger and still have an enjoyable pairing. In my opinion though, pairing the Bramble with an aged cigar elevates the combination.

And now for the Bramble recipe:
2 ounces or60ml of Gin
2 teaspoons of simple syrup
1 ounce or 30ml of lime juice
1/2 ounce or15ml of Crème de Mure
Garnish: lemon half wheel + a fresh blackberry
Add the gin, simple syrup and lime juice to a shaker with ice. Shake till cold and then pour into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Pour the crème de mure over the cocktail and crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon half wheel and a fresh blackberry.

Green Ghost

The Green Ghost first appears in print in 1937, in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, where it’s attributed to a J. B. Hurrell. It is a simple, spirit forward, cocktail that uses London Dry Gin and the French Liqueur Chartreuse, the green version as you get from the name. I could have used this cocktail for my upcoming list of 5 great cocktails to pair with cigars for other spirits as well as it’s a cocktail that leans on the flavour of green chartreuse a lot.

On the nose I get some lime and a lot of the spices and herbs from the green chartreuse. The juniper and botanicals of the gin are hidden behind the herbal aromas. I’m happily surprised, as that little bit of green Chartreuse and lime juice transform the gin into a nice, smooth, herbal, interesting and delicious concoction. The gin gives the cocktail body, the lime provides the tardiness that cuts binds the herbs of the liqueur and the botanicals of the gin together. This is a nice cocktail for a cigar with a Cameroon wrapper.

And now for the Green Ghost recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Gin
½ ounce or 15ml of Green Chartreuse
½ ounce or 15ml of Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
Add the spirits in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Bees Knees

One of my favorite cocktails is the Bee’s Knees. The cocktail was invented during America’s prohibition when the quality of the gin, the so-called bathtub gin, was low. To make it drinkable, honey was added. This evolved into the elegant Bee’s Knees. I had to think twice if I would include this cocktail in my list of recommendations though, as this is a cocktail with a strong citrus flavour and therefore is only easy to pair with strong and earthy cigars in my humble opinion. But since I love both the bees knees and those types of cigars, I included it anyway.

The drink is very fresh with a strong lemon flavor. This is a perfect summer drink, with the freshness of the lemon but without being sour due to the honey syrup, that balances everything out. The lemon is quite noticeable though and that’s why I would recommend a stronger cigar with pepper and earthy notes with this drink. The cigar needs the power to cut through the tardiness of the lemon, a milder cigar just won’t do.

And now for the Bee’s Knees recipe:
2 ounces or 60 ml of gin
¾ ounce or 22.5 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce of 15 ml of 1:1 honey syrup (1:1 means equal parts honey to water)
Put all the ingredients with some ice in your shaker and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Double strain into a martini glass or a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

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