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By: Lindsay Heller
If you enjoy seasonal cocktails and smoking cigars, then Autumn is rife with opportunity for delicious experiences. With the Fall we see a return to warm, earthy flavors with our food and drink; many of these nuances are also naturally present in tobacco, therefore ‘tis the season to create pairings like a pro. Thanks to some professional mixologist friends and a few “Research and Development” sessions, I’ve got three cocktail recipes that each partner up with three different cigars. (Each recipe listed makes one cocktail)
This cocktail is super-simple, and the herbaceous notes present in most gins cut through the natural sweetness in the agave and apple components. Fans of mellow to medium-bodied premiums, this one is for you, as the profile of this drink won’t marry well with anything too full-bodied.
Enjoy your Fall Fizz with a Romeo y Julieta 1875, where the Indonesian wrapper leaf comes with a tangy undertone ideally suited for a cocktail with lemon and apple. Its overall earthiness and cedar qualities give the drink a bit more warmth in feel, but don’t battle one another on the palate. The ‘94’ rated Ashton Heritage uses an amalgam of Dominican tobaccos beneath an Ecuador Habano wrapper offering notes of baking spice, leather, cedar, and caramel. Alongside your drink, they work together to create a “boozy caramel apple” experience. A third option is ‘91’ rated CAO Gold: wood, orange peel, almonds, and golden raisin give an interplay of sweet vs. tart that work with both the gin and sparkling cider.
There is simply way too much pumpkin when it comes to drinks at this time of year. Another classic dessert is pecan pie, but with this drink, the flavors are elevated for a more adult experience. Medium to full-bodied enthusiasts, this pairing is ideally suited to your preferences.
Light up a Trinidad Espiritu and enjoy highly complementary nuances of pepper, vanilla, citrus peel, and toast with your cocktail. AJ Fernandez re-imagined this classic brand and gave it a Nicaraguan twist, earning a ‘90’ rating from Cigar Aficionado. The ‘94’ rated Montecristo Platinum with its intense notes of coffee, roasted nuts, and waves of spice is like a cup of artisan coffee in the form of a cigar – perfect with a cocktail that emulates a pie. If looking to exaggerate the spicy-sweetness of this Old Fashioned, then select a Rocky Patel Vintage ’03 Cameroon from your humidor. The aging on the wrapper makes all the difference, providing subtle overtones of brown sugar atop notes of leather, cedar, and baking spice.
As a New York native, it seemed fitting to create a twist on the classic Manhattan. The addition of elderflower, Peychaud’s, and cognac, create a more dramatic dimension of spicy sweetness, which encapsulated downtown as I like to remember it. Fuller-bodied fans, this one’s for you.
‘94’ rated, La Aroma de Cuba Reserva presents an interesting counterbalance to the cocktail, with its rich espresso notes, spice, and bright hints of red berries. The finish on both the cigar and the drink are long, so don’t rush to cleanse your palate too quickly. The tri-country blend behind the Ave Maria Reconquista present red pepper, dried fruit, and cocoa over a caramelized core, meaning the rye accentuates the spice, and the cognac allows the caramel note to sing brighter on the palate. The ‘95’ rated Davidoff Nicaragua stimulates all the senses, and performs best against a semi-sweet backdrop. If you are comfortable with retro-haling, I highly suggest it – you’ll be rewarded with a spicy, dark chocolate note that works beautifully with the anise and cardamom from the aromatic bitters, balanced out by the tart and sweetness from the Peychaud’s bitters.
Regardless of how many of these pairings you try, I hope you discover something new to add to your arsenal. Get together with friends and family, pour a few drinks, pass out a few cigars, and enjoy the change in season before it gets too cold outside!
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