Coffee. Scotch. Rum. Beer. Fine cigar smokers are as particular about their drink parings as they are about the stick they're smoking. The art of cigar appreciation is a dance of nuance and subtlety. Anything influencing the palate will also enhance or contaminate your puffing experience.
Like the right zinfandel with lamb shank or a sauvignon blanc with summer salmon; finding the right combination of smoke and drink is a wonderful never-ending journey that we are all obliged to take. Here are a few of the lesser well known pairings I've come across.
1. CHAI LATTE: Chai is a tea concoction that has been around for thousands of years in Asia. It has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of the gourmet coffee industry. Chai can be brewed as tea or made into a latte from a powder or liquid concentrate mixed with milk. My friend swears by the chai/cigar paring. If you do try this, be sure to do the sweetened latte version. It pairs well with the ACID line from Drew Estate and other flavored cigars.
2. ROOM TEMPERATURE BOTTLED WATER: To truly discern the nuance in any cigar the palate must be both clean and warm. Ever tried drinking really hot coffee while smoking? It nukes your taste buds and diminishes most pleasurable flavor from your smoke. Many a cigar blender will drink water while sampling tobacco. I've found that room temp water will heighten the hidden flavors previously undetectable in a cigar.
3. SAMUEL ADAMS BLACKBERRY WITBIER: Obviously a sweet enhancer. My brother tried this with a Tabak Especial Latte. Not only did the cigar transform, but the infused cigar smoke greatly enhanced the taste of the beer. A 2-fer!
4. COLD COFFEE: Not iced coffee. Not coffee that has set out all night and become disgustingly bitter! This technique works best with properly brewed medium roasted coffee. (I'm assuming, of course, that the reader drinks snobbishly good coffee. No Folger's!) Coffee should be kept in a cup with a lid or in a thermos, so that contact with the air is minimized. After the coffee has assumed room temperature, it will serve well to both cleanse the palate and accentuate your smoke.
I've tasted notes of butterscotch, coconut, and candy from an otherwise traditional tasting stick.
5. HOMEMADE HARD CIDER: Ya...I've done this. While the flavor enhancing properties of the hard cider are identical to those in any store bought variety, it just tastes better when you make it yourself. And I promise you that TAX-FREE tastes amazing.
Whether your smoke/drink paring is traditional or more unorthodox, the goal is the same: trying to coax more complexity and flavor from what's hittin' your palate.
Tell the members of Cigar Federation what you think! Give us your best, strange, or tasty paring combos!