Mardi Gras Cocktail and Cigar Pairings
As the snows of winter finally show signs of melting, you can almost start to smell the fast-approaching spring. In my mind, Mardi Gras is also the sign that the last few weeks of winter are here and I should start getting into my summer mode. While being able to celebrate Fat Tuesday in New Orleans as always been a dream of mine, I usually have to celebrate at home.
This year, however, I decided to bring the comforts and culture of New Orleans home by making a list of some traditional, Big Easy cocktails. These are some of the most popular drinks you can find floating around New Orleans this time of year, and by adding in a few choice cigars, you’ve got yourself the making of a really good time.
While the Hurricane has all the makings of a traditional Caribbean cocktail, it really began in New Orleans as an offshoot of the daiquiri back in the 1940s. The Hurricane combines rum with lemon juice and a passion fruit-flavored syrup. While there are other cocktails on this list that are more in touch with the New Orleans history and culture, the Hurricane is by far its most ordered drink.
Fruity drinks are always difficult to pair with a cigar, as most non-infused cigars aren’t usually super sweet. However, something like an Ashton Aged Maduro might do nicely. It is a mellow smoke, but its Broadleaf wrapper adds in notes of sweet cream and dark cherry, making it a pretty solid companion.
Now, the Vieux Carre is a much more traditional drink that encompasses the rich history of the city. In fact, its name translates to Old Square, which references the historic French Quarter. It is a relatively smooth cocktail but has a lot of flavors. It combines several different ingredients, giving it its signature, complex profile. You start out with rye whiskey and mix in cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine liquor, and two different types of bitters.
The result of this concoction is a fruit-flavored, old fashioned type cocktail with some sweetness and spice to it. For a cigar pairing, I went with the Aganorsa Guardian of the Farm Night Watch. Its new Nicaraguan Corojo Maduro wrapper gives it a unique complexity, mixing notes of cedar, spice, and sweetness.
This is my kind of cocktail. The Sazerac is considered to be one of the oldest mixed drinks in American history and dates back to around the time of the Civil War in New Orleans. It takes its name from the original brand of cognac used in its preparation. The main ingredients are cognac, rye or bourbon whiskey, absinthe, and sugar. It is quite an involved procedure to make an authentic Sazerac, which consists of using two different glasses.
For a cigar, you definitely want something on the strong yet smooth side to pair with the robust, zesty, and herbal notes you’ll get from the drink. The Illusione Epernay makes for quite the companion, with its smooth, nutty, and spicy flavor, a great match with the drink.
This classy and creamy beverage is a favorite among the New Orleans elite and makes for a terrific after-dinner drink. The Grasshopper uses three main ingredients and they all have cream in the name. It is equal parts crème de menth, crème de cacao, and just regular cream. This combination makes it smooth, sweet, and creamy, with a touch of mint. It is almost like drinking an adult ice cream.
For this pairing, there was only one cigar option and it could not have gone better. The Rocky Patel Java mint is perfect for the grasshopper. Its notes of coffee and cream, mixed with the infused mint flavor, give it the perfect flavor profile to enjoy with this classy beverage.