What to drink with a Cuban cigar?
September 14, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

(I'm asking this question on behalf of someone I know with no MeFi account—I'll mark any helpful or solved answers as he relays them to me). "I've become a proud father of a little boy recently, and my wife got me a huge Cuban cigar to celebrate it with. Specifically a Partagas Lusitania. Instead of smoking it all by myself (that would be boring), I'm going to invite some of my mates over for a drink and a smoke. The problem is, I don't know what to drink with it. Any suggestions?"

"Now, I don't usually smoke, but then again, I don't usually have babies either. It's a man thing.

I have very little experience with cigars, even less with this particular one, and not much desire to start a proper research project on the perfect pairing.

I can invest in some alternatives, but 2-3 different kinds is where I draw the line.

So far I've found the following advice: Armagnac with more robust cigars (but is the Lusitania robust?), or a non-smoky single-malt Scotch whisky. Not much to go on.

Any hints and pointers are greatly appreciated. If possible, it'd be great if you could give general hints on the properties of the liquor in question instead of just naming a particular brand. The selection out here isn't the best possible, so that way I can at least ask for something "spicy with a note of leather".

Bonus points: I was thinking of getting Partagas Series D no. 4 for my mates; if you can suggest a drink that goes well with that AND Lusitania, that'd be awesome. Or if you can recommend another cigar that's cheaper and shorter (size does matter) than Lusitania but otherwise matches, that'd be great too."
posted by jklaiho to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a fan of Glenlivet with a good cigar. The Macallan 12 is nice too. Both are scotches and most places which sell any range of liquor should have them.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest Highland Park. It's astonishingly well-balanced, without being a boring ol' blend. Still rich enough to complement -- but not fight -- the complexity of the cigar. It's a whisky with full flavour, but not too much of any one character.

Yes, 'Highland Park' is a terrible name. It's important to get past that. She really is a beaut.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:56 PM on September 14, 2011

Also, depending on where your friend is, and if they'd have access (I think these are UK-only), you might want to try one of the Distiller's Editions. A number of them use sherry casks -- Amontillado, Amoroso -- which gives the whisky a nice sweetness that goes very, very well with a quality smoke.

Bit more of a gamble, though, and more of a try-and-see. The Lagavulin, for example, tastes little like an ordinary Lagavulin would -- the expectations are totally off.

I can't speak to Armagnac, myself, but I would also consider a quality Port, which also complements a good cigar very nicely, but in a completely different way than Scotch. Perhaps even more nicely, depending on your tastes.

In any event, congratulations!
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: I say if you're going Cuban, may as well go all the way with a really good sipping-type rum. I'd do some Angostura 1919, Plantation Rum, Ron Zacapa 23, that kind of thing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd probably go for something smooth and sweet like Dalwhinnie, "non smoky" as it gets with single malts.
On a side note: Do not inhale. Just making sure here, twice I've heard of non-smokers trying expensive cigars with the notion you smoke them just like cigarettes. With disastrous results ;) just let the smoke roll over your tongue a bit. Another important hint: cigars are meant to be smoked very, very slowly. A good cigar can easily last an hour, so take your time...
posted by Nightwind at 1:21 PM on September 14, 2011

I'm going to second the recommendation on sipping rums. My pick would be a 15 Year El Dorado. It hails from Guyana (formerly British Guyana), and it's spectacularly good. A bottle runs about $40.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:00 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: I go for a deeper flavored scotch with cigars, such as the Glenmorangie 18. Macallan will work, too. Cognac is also good. I'd suggest either Pierre Ferrand or the Remy Martin 1738. Also, if anyone complains about the dubious legality of your Cuban cigar, be sure to let them know you're not supporting the Castro regime--you're burning its crops.
posted by Hylas at 2:16 PM on September 14, 2011

dubious legality of your Cuban cigar

OP is in Finland. There's nothing illegal about Cuban products in the vast majority of the world.
posted by Dasein at 3:12 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love Highland Park, but it is a touch peaty on the finish if you're looking for "non-smoky" single malts. My peat averse friends don't like HP at all, even though it has only the barest of smoke IMO.

I'd go with something from a sherry cask, perhaps the Macallan 12 or the Balvenie DoubleWood. My fear is that the Glenmorangie is going to be a bit too mellow, but that's just me.

If you're new to single malts, my intro recommendation is always the Balvenie DoubleWood. If you're feeling adventurous, I would go with Aberlour A'Bunadh. It's cask strength, so you'll need a bit of water to open it up.

I recommended 10-12 year old whiskeys b/c I think it's best to start with solid baseline examples of a variety of malts. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a beautiful 18yo bottle sitting on a shelf b/c the flavor profile isn't something the drinker enjoys. Save your money until you know what regions/profiles you like.
posted by foggy out there now at 3:26 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: Cognac and Scotch are what I enjoy with cigars. a'bunadh is my favorite Scotch, but I find its delicate sherry flavors and sweetness get blown away by the slight burn of Havana smoke on the tongue. I would probably drink a blended scotch, like one of the better Johnnie Walkers, with a cigar.

The absolute right thing to drink with a nice cigar is Germain-Robin Old Havana brandy, but it's expensive and not always the easiest thing to find. In a pinch, good XO cognac like Remy or Hennessey is a nice substitute - the Remy is my go-to.

For a shorter but still magnificent cigar that'd complement your gargantuan Lusitania nicely, hard to go wrong with a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure #2. They were my go to smoke for a few years - short, not too much nicotine, but absolutely stands up to even a nice horseradish, onion and garlic-infused vodka.

Cigars and good booze are a lot better with good friends to share them with. Enjoy in good health.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 3:42 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

A good tawny port.

And diet coke in a can. Seriously. Makes an excellent pallet-cleanser. Just try it.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:37 PM on September 14, 2011

Agreeing with the port wine suggestions. And I wouldn't worry about it being top-of-the-line, as the cigar flavour will largely overpower it.
posted by Metro Gnome at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2011

My husband suggests something strong and flavorful, like a good scotch (others have suggested a lot of good ones, and I like the Macallan 12 that a couple of people have mentioned) or a good port (ruby or tawny, if you want to spend a little more you could buy an LBV).
posted by echo0720 at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2011

Waiit. I'm sorry. People SHARE cigars? Like, smoke the same one? Or is this a big box of fancy cigars?

You can't go wrong with Talisker, imo, but I've never drank it with cigars.
posted by cyndigo at 7:32 PM on September 14, 2011

Response by poster: A followup:

"The whisky front seems to be covered, and I do happen to have a bottle of Cuban rum in the cupboard. Any other suggestions on the brandy front?

(Also, port wine is out. I drink enough of the stuff as is, so variety is preferred)"
posted by jklaiho at 5:32 AM on September 15, 2011

Response by poster: cyndigo: no, obviously a cigar for each smoker :-)
posted by jklaiho at 5:33 AM on September 15, 2011

Congrats! My favorite with cigars has always been Madeira. For more info and recommendations, check out this Cigar Weekly column.
posted by Shoggoth at 7:49 AM on September 15, 2011

Response by poster: OK, thank you all for your replies! Ended up being a combination of Glenlivet and Macallan. Marking this as resolved.
posted by jklaiho at 6:42 AM on September 16, 2011

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