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Another year is coming to a close, and while some are shocked at where the time has gone, here at CIGAR.com we like to think of it as a time where a bit of indulgence is met with approval. Whether you're looking to feature an at-home cigar bar for your party, or simply want to treat yourself during some downtime, there are ways to make your smoking experience exceptional.
Entertaining with Cigars:If you want to introduce your friends and family to your favorite hobby, you can do so without needing much to make the set-up really special. Grab a serving tray and lay out cigars alongside an ashtray with cutter and lighter; for an added special effect, light an unscented votive candle and, in a narrow glass, offer "homemade" spills by cutting up that sheet of cedar that often comes inside your favorite box of smokes.
PRO TIP: Cedar spills are simply a sophisticated way to light your cigar. Ditch the matches, and light one of your "homemade" spills utilizing the flame from your candle. Light the same way you would if using a modern torch, but now you don't risk scorching the tobacco. Your guests will enjoy an elevated experience they'll never forget!
Beverage Pairings: Not as Complicated as You'd ThinkI always believe in offering pairing suggestions, because an added touch can transform a nice evening into one with a fantastic allure. You can get really granular and make this all-too-complicated, or you can follow a simple rule: pick a beverage whose predominant flavor profile doesn't overpower the strength of the cigar. Avoid clear spirits like gin or vodka, as your cigar will take control; steer away from mixed drinks as well, in order to prevent a literally sour experience. Stick with bourbon, rum, or whiskey, and you wont' be disappointed.
BOURBON - Blends that have a higher proportion of rye are best with medium and medium-to-full smokes. Think Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, or Four Roses with an Oliva Serie 'G' (Cameroon), Camacho Criollo (Criollo), or Ramón Bueso Genesis Habano (Ecuadorian Habano) cigar.
RUM - Always choose dark rum to benefit from the richness imparted by the molasses. If a mellow cigar is in order like the Alec Bradley Connecticut, choose rums from the West Indies, as they have great nuances of banana, orange, and all-spice. Prefer a stronger cigar like a Liga Privada No.9 (CT Broadleaf) or Romeo y Julieta Media Noche (San Andrés Maduro)? I highly recommend Venezuelan rums for their notes of butterscotch, fruit, and nuts, which work wonders against dark, toothy wrappers that present chocolate, sugar, and pepper.
WHISKY - You'll want to focus on Highland and Speyside Scotches, as the absence of peat make them more palatable with a wide variety of tobaccos. These two whiskies are medium-to-full in their own right, and are known for fragrant florals, bright citrus, and a buttery finish. Cigars that showcase baking spices, coffee, earth, and nuts are great companions, such as Ave Maria Immaculata (mellow), Caldwell Blind Man's Bluff (medium), or Perdomo 20th Anniversary Sun Grown (full-bodied) series.
If you're ringing in the New Year, you should know that not all Champagnes are meant to accompany cigars. I personally love the bubbly, and in my home there will be Blanc de Noirs, aka "white wine made from dark grapes." This type of Champagne is described as being "off dry;" with a more robust character, it stands up to a cigar without allowing either your smoke or your drink to turn bitter on the palate.
Whether you follow the pairing guidelines outlined above or create your own, have a safe and happy holiday, and enjoy to the fullest. Cheers to a new year!
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