Food You Should Pair With Cigars
Cigar pairings have become an important part of the cigar culture and community. Aficionados are always looking for ways to enhance their experience.
This is most commonly done through cigar pairings, often with whiskey, beer, coffee, etc. Since you are most likely drinking something with a cigar anyway, finding a perfect partner seems like common sense.
However, there are even more ways to enhance your experience outside of your common drinks. Like a fine wine, cigars also pair very well with various foods. Think of me, today, as your cigar sommelier. We are going to examine the major food groups and what cigars would pair well with them.
Steaks to Pair with Cigars
Similar to pairing with a drink, the best food and cigar pairings come when both options have optimal flavor. Let’s just say an arugula salad won’t be making an appearance on this list. However, the glory that is a fine steak will be acting as our leadoff hitter.
Steak and cigars go together like, well, steak and cigars. This is the classic entre that I love to enjoy before a fine cigar. A great steak, done properly, can be life-changing. For example, Smith and Wollensky in New York prepares, in my estimation, is the perfect rib eye. It is medium rare, but charred on the outside with just the right amount of seasoning,
For a hefty, flavorful steak, you are going to want a cigar that is going to match up in various ways such as strength, flavor, and aroma. After a heavy steak, a stronger bold cigar would do nicely. I would suggest something such as the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder or the new Onyx Bold Nicaragua.
Both cigars have the strength to help balance out the meal. They both utilize darker wrappers for a more rich and smoky experience while adding in touches of earth and leather. This is the perfect compliment for a perfectly done steak. Also, if you eat your steak well-done, you can stop reading this now.
BBQ Food to Pair with Cigars
BBQ has been trending for the past few years, but unlike a lot of these fake, new age fans, I’ve been eating good BBQ my entire life. We can sit and argue if you prefer brisket or pulled pork, or if Texas beats out North Carolina.
The fact of the matter is BBQ is a cultural phenomenon that is beloved the world over. In my mind, nothing goes better after a heavy BBQ meal, then a strong cigar. However, which cigar depends on what you are eating.
Texas BBQ seems to be the more well known so we will start there. Generally, the meat is cooked with a dry rub and then the sauce is served on the side. Of course, Texas style BBQ sauce is generally rich and sweet. A nice maduro, particularly a Connecticut Broadleaf would be perfect with this variation.
Something like the RoMa Craft CroMagnon, Texas boys themselves, would go nicely after a big plate of Texas Ribs. North Carolina BBQ is slightly different. The sauce is generally made with vinegar and various spices, such as cayenne.
For this, you are going to want something a little spicier with some floral notes. For this, I would go with something from Warped, such as the Flor de Valle. It has just a touch of spice and some wonderful floral notes that will match up nicely with this regional food.
Tacos to Pair with Cigars
Another food that has been increasing in popularity during my life has been tacos. The Taco Tuesday phenomenon has been at an all-time height, and honestly, I am perfectly ok with that. Just for clarification, for this, we will be talking about authentic style tacos, not new-age BBQ Brisket tacos or Korean tacos.
An authentic style taco can be done in a variety of ways, using various meats. Fish tacos are quite popular, but I also usually go with either a shredded chicken or a carne asada.
The key to a good taco is fresh ingredients. I want mine a little spicy with fresh lime juice, salsa, and cilantro. The complexity of flavors is what makes it so good and has me going back time and time again.
For the past few years, I’ve been enjoying an Espinosa Laranja as my post taco smoke. It has just a touch of spice, to go with my hot sauce, but it’s the floral and citrus notes that pair it up beautifully with a well-made taco.
Fish to Pair with Cigars
I’ll be honest, this was a tough one for me because tragically I am not a big seafood fan. My seafood likes are limited to a nice tuna sandwich, fried calamari, and fish and chips.
However, I do realize that people go crazy for seafood and so, like it or not, they deserve a place on this list. As an additional disclaimer, this section will be strictly traditional seafood dishes. I honestly don’t know enough about sushi to even begin to get into that.
A fish dish is typically lighter and more fragrant in flavor then let’s say a steak. This is why sommeliers always suggest a white wine for a seafood dish. The same applies for a cigar. When enjoying some nice flounder or Chilean Sea Bass, you want something light and smooth, with some citrus in there as well.
Typically, you are going to want something with either a Connecticut or Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The Montecristo White or new Henry Clay War Hawk are both fantastic options. They are smooth and creamy and most importantly light. They won’t overpower the flavor of the fish, but will instead add in some subtle notes to enhance the experience.
Desserts to Pair with Cigars
This is where my food experience can really begin to shine. Dessert is a perfect food category to pair with a cigar. Many cigars have natural sweet, rich and nutty notes that it makes them a great companion for some after-dinner treats.
Like everything else, this food and cigar pairing is going to depend upon what you choose. For example, something light and sweet like vanilla ice cream, you want something light and slightly sweet like the Sobremesa Brulee.
If you are a chocolate and peanut butter fan, like me, you want something that is still mellow and sweet, but more on the rich side. For example, an Ashton Aged Maduro, with its Broadleaf wrapper and aged Dominican filler tobaccos, will go quite well. It has notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and a nutty center. So if you enjoy a peanut butter pie, this is the one to go with.