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...and Cigars?

For fellow CH who enjoy a good cigar with some sort of spirit selection, I'm curious what your favorite combinations are? Size/brand of cigar, type of liquor or brand?

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  1. Lots of variables here. I have a few favorites and rules of thumb. My preferred cigar sizes are robusto and corona, which are both about 30 minute smokes, the robusto being shorter but larger ring size. These enable me to go sweet with porto, madeira, Xtabentun, or Sambucca, or go hot with cognac, single malt, or bourbon, or go middle with an anejo rum or tequila or mezcal. With a longer smoke such as a Churchill I'll always go sweet usually with a bottle of VP, but those are special occasions. Davidoff Churchills are reliable, Cohiba Esplenditos are nearly all counterfeit unless you purchase them in Spain.

    My favorite coronas, H. Upmann, Punch, and Cohiba Siglo III, are cuban and they don't Venn Diagram well with single malts and cognacs but they meld with Havana Club anejo. I rub a litte on the wrapper and get started with a sipper. Romeo Y Julietta also. My lonely humidor in FL has mostly Cohiba robustos and Partagas as I recall. I get back just a couple times a year.

    Maduros and oscuros are strong but sweeter and call for a hot companion - cognac or scotch or bourbon. It's all fun.

    1. nj, it looks like you and me so far. Share your favorite combos...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        I am a fan of Alec Bradley Tempus. I will on occasion have bourbon but at the end if a meal I like to go sweet. 75 year Grand Marnier, Desarrono neat. One of my favorites is ZAYA rum with a little ice.

        If I am enjoying Davidoff I lean toward the ZAYA or a good Bourbon.

        1. re: JB BANNISTER

          75 Year Grand Marnier? I'm familiar with 50/100/150 but I have never encountered a 75 year. Is that something new?

      2. 20th Anniversary Plantation Extra Old Barbados Rum and whatever cigar my cousin had out on the deck last Thanksgiving. Like fat rich booze when I'm enjoying a smoke. Armagnac is nice too.

        1. It's hard to ignore a woman who can manage a petit corona in one hand, and a jerez sherry in the other...

          1. I was educated in the lore and pleasures of finer cigars by one of the Wally Frank managers...and immediately knew I was going to work there. I did for a couple of years. I was able to sample some of the finest cigars on the market and developed a very broad-based acceptance of larger, longer, darker cigars. A guy my size would look funny smoking a smaller cigar, IMHO. Just as my taste in cigars is quite eclectic, my taste in libations is as well. I don't smoke nor drink enough to really develop any favorites. Although the LAST time I indulged, it was with a Te Amo Robusto and a glass of Bortran Reserva, neat. Guess I'll just HAVE to do more research....grumble grumble...

            1 Reply
            1. re: njmarshall55

              Te Amo is the reason travelers from Cuba to Mexico can only bring 2 boxes of cigars back with them. Large Mexican producers of anything have a lot of influence over limiting foreign competitors, most notably American beer.

              Te Amo are a pretty good everyday smoke.

            2. I like well aged Bolivar Coronas (sent via Havana...shhhh) and have learned to like them with, of all things, a nice espresso. But with booze, I prefer them with cognac. Hard to beat that combo.

              1. H. Upman Lonsdale and a decent tawny Port. Anything better on either end (cigar or beverage) I prefer to savor solo, except maybe a glass of water with an R & J.

                1. The Dalmore distillery makes a "Cigar Malt" whisky.


                  1. I pair my cigars with something on the sweeter side most often. Bourbon is my drug of choice these days but rum is great and a PX sherry is awesome as well as a tawny or vintage port. A nice ale or IPA can pair well with cigars. As far as cigars, I'm a Cuban whore. I'm not into the bigger ring gauges that are so popular these days. A corona or londsdale are perfect sizes for me. A petit corona is the best band for the buck IMO. As you can see the 42 ring gauge is my favorite. Also like long slender cigars which take a different approach to smoking to get the most out of them. Of course a robusto is nice too. Okay I like them all except not a fan of Churchills. Never found many that smoked well from Cuba.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Glad you like the smaller Cubans, I'm still a cigar novice after 10 years of occasional use and I find the size of a Cuban corona just right for me. I loved sitting on the beach at night in Mexico with a corona and a Havana Club añejo neat...all I needed was a white linen suit and you could have called me El Patrón =)

                    2. I never really thought to compliment a cigar to beverage by brand. I usually go by the atmosphere, the weather, or the company. Cold weather after a hearty winter meal would include port,brandy, sambuca, Johnny Black, or my favorite Glenlivet single malt. On summer nights out by the firepit, as I did last week, I enjoyed a chilled limoncello with an H Upmann that i smoked until my fingers burned. You have me wanting to try specific pairing. Thank you

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: luv2eatct

                        Your point about weather and beverage is a very good one when smoking a puro out of doors in a tropical setting or indoors in a chilly fireplace setting.

                        1. re: luv2eatct

                          Also time of day. I did learn in my days with Wally Frank, that some people prefer milder, smaller cigars in the morning...like a breakfast cigar, I suppose. Richer, larger ones after dinner. And one trick I learned from some friendly cops is that they tend to go for decent but cheap cigars. When the radio calls them to roll, they don't want to throw alot of money out the window. Of course, beverage of choice for them would be coffee

                          1. re: luv2eatct

                            You actually do bring up a good point. I myself cannot drink cordials such as Sambuca, Grand Marnier in the summer months. Those two in particular make me very warm and in the summer I can't take the increase in body temp.

                            Of course I found a solution to this......Van Goh has an Espresso Vodka (Just Espresso NOT the Double Espresso which is brown in color) Their Espresso Vodka is clear so not as heavy or syrupy as the double......it is crisp light as a vodka goes and the flavor goes excellent with a cup of coffee,espresso,cappuchino or just alone as an after diner drink. By FAR my favorite after dinner drink in the summer....on the rocks of course.

                          2. Great Topic-

                            I find myself leaning towards bourbon more and more. Also like a nice craft beer as well.

                            Best regards, Tony

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: aea6574

                              Since starting this thread, I've made it a point to sample more and more. I have to admit I'm quite suprised at the depth and breadth of various bourbon selections. With some side by side comparisons, it's difficult to be able to tell that they're both bourbons. I'm just starting to crack my ignorance in craft beers.

                            2. I agree great topic!! I’m a Romeo and Juliet Reserve man as far as my cigars go, I vacation frequently in Aruba and I always “smuggle” a box or two of Cubans home without any problems.

                              I enjoy my cigar with a Grand Marnier…..regular or aged whichever I have on hand at the time. I’m a dipper though…..I enjoy dipping the end of my cigar into the Grand Marnier and getting that extra orange flavor as I take a drag on the cigar. Can get sloppy after awhile….but I don’t mind.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                jrvedivici makes a good point about "dipping. " The end cap, after cut and dipped can come off and things CAN get messy. Does anyone espouse the use of the old cigar holder???? Just curious. I still have some from my WF days in my sock drawer.

                              2. A Bolivar Belicoso Fino, a good bourbon or a great brandy, and Bach.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: beevod

                                  "B"vod likes the alliterative "B"....

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    ...especially when the first "B" is Bolivar

                                2. Having worked in the cigar industry in the late 90's I tried hundreds of brands of cigars. Also helped run huge cigar and single malt events. My personal favorites are the Padron Anniversario's, and most especially Arturo Fuente Don Carlos and Anejo lines. And the newer vintage and special Fuente lines like God of Fire, when I feel like splurging on a really fine cigar. I like robusto gauge and length, since they are wide enough for a cool smoke, and on the short side so I'm not spending an hour with a cigar. When I want a tasty very short smoke, Fuente Hemmingway Short Story.

                                  I never cared for Cubanos because so many in the States are seconds or counterfeit, and even so in tourist areas of the Caribbean. Although when you do get your hands on an aged Cubano from a top English store, they can be very fine. This is because the best British cigar shops age the Cubanos for a year or two after getting a shipment, and at a slightly lower humidity, around 65%, which helps bring out the floral notes.

                                  For pairing, I like to sip on a very fine, aged rum. Just a few to name from my rum collection that I save for the really good cigars are Chairman's Reserve The Forgotten Casks, Foursquare's 66 Family Reserve, St Lucia Distillery 1931, Williams & Hubert Dos Maderas PX 5+5, and similar.

                                  As for dipping a cigar in anything, personally I think that's atrocious. I smoke my cigars dry, including not sucking on them and getting them wet with saliva. That leads to a hot and steamy smoke and you lose a lot of the nuances. My cigar is as dry when I finish as when I started.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JMF

                                    I agree with you on many points listed above. I personally think dipping the end of a cigar in anything is in bad form but who am I to tell someone how to enjoy their cigar. You listed some of my favorite non Cuban cigars. Especially the Anejos

                                    I don't find wine in general a great paring with cigars but the sweeter fortified wines do make for good pairings.

                                  2. I'm a total novice with cigars, though I've enjoyed the last few I've smoked that friends have offered. Going to the beach this weekend and meeting my GF's dad for the first time. He leans towards bourbons and scotches and owns a stocked humidor. I was going to bring a bottle of bourbon and some cigars for us but since I know nothing about cigars (and he seems to know quite a bit about them), I could use some pairing recommendations if y'all have any. Also, while not wanting to look cheap, I'm not exactly flush with cash these days, so anything under, say $10 a cigar would be preferable.

                                    As far as booze, I was planning on bringing down a bottle of Eagle Rare 10. My only reason for that is somewhat random. It's on sale this month for $19.95 a fifth and I haven't had any in a while and thought this might be a good excuse to revisit a bourbon I recall enjoying a couple of years ago, but haven't had since. Not really sure if it's a particularly good bourbon for cigar pairing. Buffalo Trace was my other choice, simply because I like it, it's got a nice vanilla backbone that I thought would go well with a cigar, and I've found that even non-bourbon drinkers sometimes enjoy BT. That said, I regularly drink BT and was looking for something new or simply a bourbon I haven't had in a while, hence the Eagle Rare.

                                    So, any advice from the experts?

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                      Not an expert, but here goes...If your GF's dad is a cigar smoker, try to find out what brands and sizes he likes. He will appreciate your effort. Nothing frustrated me more than working in a cigar store and having someone try to get someone a few sticks. When I asked them what he usually smoked, it was, "I don't know...they just stink." Personally, Ilke Arturo Fuente, Ashton, CAO, Punch, and an occasional dark Te-Amo.

                                      Same with the bourbon...if he's hard over on one brand, nothing wrong with sticking with it. There are some decent national brands (Wild Turkey, Old Granddad, Maker's Mark...I know many out there would disagree with me) but many people today are trying smaller batch, more exclusive lines...Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, etc. I'm sure other posters will have their opinions. I strongly recommend NOT dipping the end of the cigar in the bourbon. And don't chew the end. It can get nasty. Don't bite the end off of it...get a guillotine cutter and do NOT cut the entire end cap off...it will unravel on you fast. Do NOT try to put a cigar out like a cigarette. Just leave it alone and it will go out by itself. Hope that helps.

                                      1. re: njmarshall55

                                        And don't lick cigar. I have a friend...

                                        Good move on Bourbon -- your dollar will go a lot further than with Scotch. Or rye. I think the spice would go nicely with a cigar, too. Or split the difference -- Bulleit bourbon, a high-rye bourbon that is quite nice.

                                        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                        1. re: njmarshall55

                                          All good advice all around. Don't forget Padron as a excellent Nicaraguan cigar. You don't have to spring for the Anniversario. The basic line is quite good the closest I get to a Cuban in flavor profile

                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            I'll look into the Padrons. Thanks.

                                            I should also point out, I'm not completely new to cigars. I know the basic etiquette, understand the gauges, and have smoked enough of them to be experienced in that regard. My issue is with the styles, whether certain manufacturers or regions or better regarded as being good pairings with different spirits, etc...

                                            Considering the knowledge of some folks on Chowhound, I would not call myself an expert on bourbon (or Scotch) but I feel pretty confident in saying I'm pretty knowledgeable on both and have sampled fairly extensively. I like Old Grandad for what it is, but you can do better, and for not much more money. In terms of Makers, well I prefer the 46, and honestly, you can't better bourbon for cheaper.

                                            I actually like Bulleit bourbon better as a cocktail mixer. The rye heat always seems a bit rough, and I've drank a couple of bottle over the years trying to convince myself otherwise. I do wonder about ryes, or rye heavy whiskeys, and cigars. Wouldn't the kick of the rye perhaps be a bit much when combined with the dryness from the cigar smoke? I'm just wonder out loud here really, but in general, I would assume a more round, sweet, and vanilla forward bourbon would be preferable over a more oaky or rye-heavy whiskey.

                                            While there I was also thinking cigars and a nice Imperial IPA might be a good combo, at least for me. I suggested this to a fellow beer-nerd coworker who said a friend of hers enjoys cigar and beer pairings and recommended Alec Bradley Presonado with a Quad or Dubel.

                                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                                              Although I often have a drink with a cigar, if I'm doing a critical tasting of a cigar I'll have water as a beverage. I never really think about the style of cigar any more since I smoke cigars predominantly from one country and while each brand has differences they are becoming more homogenized.

                                              I guess I don't put a lot of thought into the pairing on average since its a daily activity. Just pull a cigar that I want and a bourbon that I want. Again if it's a rare or unique cigar or bourbon I'll likely not mix the two.

                                              Whether its bourbon, rye, rum, scotch, tequila, beer or what ever just drink what you enjoy and smoke what you enjoy. It's really all that matters at the end of the day

                                              As to Old Grand Dad go for for the 114. An excellent bourbon for the my money but it's rye heavy. For a wheater Old Weller Antique is an excellent choice for the money but we all have different taste and that's a good thing.

                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                scuba, I hope you are not puffing heaters with your morning cup of joe at this ungodly hour!

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  Just a tad too early. But a morning cigar and coffee can really be nice in the quiet early hours when all is still

                                                2. re: scubadoo97

                                                  I second the OGD 114 reco, though the 86 and 100 proof versions are just OK, the 114 is outstanding and I don't think you can do much better without spending a lot more money. Oddly enough the only sub-$30 Bourbons I have had that I would say are as good both cost me slightly less, OWA and Elijah Craig 12 yr ($20 on sale in NC).

                                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                                    Already went with the Eagle Rare 10, on sale at $19.95 (cheaper by a buck than the OGD 114) because, like I said earlier, it's been a while since I had any Eagle Rare and for the price, this seemed like a decent time to revisit a spirit I recall really enjoying last time I had a bottle. That said, thanks for the recommendation on the OGD. I haven't had it before and the regular price up here is $20.95. Like you said, I've had the basic OGD and while I certainly didn't hate it by any means, I did find it fairly unremarkable. I'll make sure to give the 114 a shot in the near future.

                                                    Also, went by the cigar store down the street and the guy behind the counter was a big bourbon fan who loved Eagle Rare. When I also told him about meeting my GF's dad for the first time, and that he was a big cigar guy, he recommended a Padron Anniversary 64 Maduro, which he said would pair fine with the bourbon and, for the price, should impress anyone who knows anything about cigars. Nice guy actually; he even knocked down the price to $10 a cigar (from their price of $12) out of sympathy for the stress of meeting my GF's dad for the first time.

                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                      Ive heard that the OGD 114 is a completely different mashbill than the lower proof ones, though I have never verified that. Side by side they don't taste very similar so I don't doubt it.