There’s not much better than enjoying a great cigar before, during, or after a meal. Is there an art to pairing your cigar with the right food or drink? You can never go wrong with any cigar. But there are some foods and alcoholic drinks that go better with some cigars than with others.
Cigars and seafood
Seafood, no matter how full of flavor it is, tends to be quite light in taste. The cigar you smoke during or after a meal of salmon, lobster, or mussels should also be on the light side. If you choose a cigar that’s full of flavor and body, you’re quickly going to cover up the taste of the seafood. Pick a cigar that has at most a medium body so that the aroma of the cigar stands out and blends with your meal.
Cigars that complement pasta
Many pasta dishes have a red tomato based sauce, as well as meats that are seasoned with herbs such as basil and oregano. The sauces are often on the sweeter side because of these herbs and spices. A full-bodied cigar can quickly overpower the taste and flavor of pasta dishes, so the taste of the sauce is lost. Choose a smoke that’s medium and has a bit of sweetness so that it works with your meal rather than against it.
Barbecued foods and cigars
Foods that are barbecued have often been grilled or baked with a rub or a barbecue sauce that’s spicy, sweet, and tangy. Your cigar needs to be able to stand up to these bold flavors. Choose full-bodied cigars, such as Cubans and Hondurans. The complexity of these cigars can easily match the flavor of smoky, barbecued foods.
Steak and cigar
A delicious steak that’s been grilled to perfection needs a cigar that’s going to balance out that meaty flavor. And if your steak has been grilled with onions and mushrooms, you’ll need a rich and bold cigar, such as a Maduro, which is crisp and strong.
Beyond whiskey and cigars
It’s not just food that needs to be correctly paired with your cigar – alcohol always needs to carefully paired with your cigar as well, so that you get the best of both tastes. Cocktails are a good choice as an after drink, especially if you’re smoking a full-bodied cigar. Cocktails made with vodka or gin can be light and cool when they’re blended with refreshing ingredients such as basil, lemon, and fresh ginger – Mojitos, Cuba Libre, and gin with a splash of lime – these are light drinks that cleanse the palate. When drinking these cocktails, choose a light cigar to that’s made with a mixture of tobacco that’s been grown in Mexico and/or Ecuador.
Forget the wine, spirits, or cocktails and reach for that craft beer. The popularity for craft beers is at an all time high in North America. Even the smallest towns are brewing their own beer. Cigars can be perfectly paired with beer. You just need to match the body of the beer to the cigar. An ale or malted beer need a full-bodied cigar that match its acidity. And a lighter beer, such a wheat beer, pair best with medium-bodied cigars.
Dessert and cigars?
Just because you enjoy a good cigar at the end of a meal doesn’t mean you have to give up dessert. It’s definitely not a “one or the other” situation. You can have your dessert and smoke your cigar too. No matter what type of dessert you have, there’s a good cigar to go with it. Lighter tasting cigars go well with light desserts that are fruit based – this way the flavor and taste of one won’t overpower the other. Chocolate desserts are usually more rich and flavorful. Choose a bolder cigar with these desserts, such as one with a Dominican blend.
You be the final judge
Follow the guidelines here to pair your food or drink to the right cigar. Just remember that these rules aren’t written in stone. You’re the final judge when it comes to deciding what works and what doesn’t. Have fun finding your own perfect cigar pairing.