Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

Diplomatico Rum was founded in 1959 at the foot of the Andes mountains in Venezuela, where the water is pure and with close proximity to the sugar cane processing plants. Up until 2002, the distillery was owned in majority by Seagram, one of the world’s largest wine and spirits companies but that year a group of Venezuelan businessmen bought the company, making it a 100% Venezuelan owned company. The company prides itself as a family-owned business since. What sets the distillery apart is that they have three different distilling processes that combined make the famed Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

The Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is a blend of exclusive rum reserves aged up to 12 years. The master blenders select the right barrels to make a rum with a unique body with excellent balance. This results into a great reputation and many awards.


I tried the rum in a Glencairn glass. The colour is medium dark, darker than most whiskies but not overly dark. On the nose I smell a sweet and strong alcohol smell, so sweet that it reminds me of demerara simple syrup combined with orange peel and liquorice. The demerara sweetness returns in the flavour of this thick, almost syrup like, rum. There is also white pepper, vanilla and sweet toffee with the complexity of dark chocolate. The caramel sweetness must come from the added sugars. This rum as a sipping rum would pair well with a stronger cigar with coffee and earthy aromas.


Currently the oldest known references to the Hurricane cocktail date the drink’s creation back to at least 1938. In 1939 in Queens, New York, it was served at the 1939-1940 New York World’s fair at the “Hurricane Bar”  but it is unknown what ingredients were used to prepare the Hurricane drinks that were sold at the exhibition. The best representation of the original recipe and look of the Hurricane drink is depicted in the October- December 1938 produced/July 1939 released Warner Brother’s film “Naughty But Nice”, where the original Hurricane drink appears to be simply lemonade or lemon juice with the addition of a generous portion of rum with little or nothing else added to it that would give it any appearance different from lemonade. If passion fruit syrup was added to the drink it would have been a clear uncoloured version as the drink doesn’t have the now iconic red colour typically found in Hurricanes served today. The glass the Hurricane is served in is a standard high ball glass instead of the iconic “hurricane lamp” shaped glasses used today.

The modern recipe is different but we will get to that later. On the nose there isn’t much going on, just some passion fruit from the passion fruit puree. This cocktail is sweet and tart, and the fruit flavours cover much of the alcohol which makes this a very dangerous drink. The mouthfeel is thick as a good fruit juice should be with a bit of the demerara flavour from the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and a faint flavour of the El Rumba white rum as well. This cocktail sneaks up on you and will leave you drunk before you know it. I think most medium bodied cigars will go well with this drink, whether it has an earthy, woody or coffee profile.

And now for the Hurricane recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of El Rumba white rum
2ounces or 60ml of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
1 ounce or 30ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 ounce or 30ml of orange juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of passion fruit puree
½ ounce or 15 ml of simple syrup
1 teaspoon grenadine
Garnish: orange half-wheel
Garnish: preserved cherry

Add the El Rumba, Diplomatico, lime and orange juices, passion fruit puree, simple syrup and grenadine into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a large Hurricane glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange half-wheel and a preserved cherry.


Now even though I say it’s a painkiller, it’s actually not. It’s a riff on a painkiller as the cocktail is trademarked by Pusser’s rum and I’m not using Pusser’s rum but Diplomatico. Technically it’s not a painkiller, although it follows the same recipe. And to make this cocktail, I had to do some work. I could not find ‘cream of coconut’ locally, lots of coconut cream but that’s not the same, so I had to make it myself. Not that it’s much work, as it’s basically dissolving sugar into coconut milk.

About the trademark, the original Painkiller was created in the 1970s at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands and originally it was made with Cruzan Rum. In 1989, Pusser’s Rum Ltd. filed a US trademark on the Painkiller’s name and recipe. When a Tiki bar named Painkiller opened in the Lower East Side of New York City in May of 2011, Pusser’s sent a cease and desist order to owners Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato, both for the bar’s name and for selling Painkiller cocktails made with rums other than Pusser’s. Gonzalez and Boccato reached an out-of-court settlement with Pusser’s, which included them renaming the bar to PKNY. In response to the news, numerous bartenders organized a boycott against Pusser’s Rum.

On the nose, this cocktail (and before Pusser’s sues me, this cocktail is NOT a painkiller, but a painkiller copy) has pineapple sweetness. The flavours are tropical but that’s no surprise. Pineapple and coconut are tropical flavours after all. The coconut is creamy and it reminds me of Nasi Lemak, a dish I fondly remember from my trip to Malaysia. It’s white rice cooked in coconut milk. The cocktail is fruity but has no tardiness from citrus. This is the ultimate summer cocktail, fresh, creamy and sweet. It will go well with a good cigar that is not too bold, not too outspoken. Something as a Cain Daytona, Plasencia Cosecha 146 or 149 or a Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto for example.

And now for the Painkiller-like recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
4 ounces or 120ml of pineapple juice
1 ounce or 30ml of orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 ounce or 30ml of cream of coconut
Garnish: nutmeg and a pineapple wedge
Add the rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously but briefly to combine. Strain into a hurricane glass or snifter over crushed ice. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a pineapple wedge. Serve with a straw.

Inspector X

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