As covered in A Constellation of Cuban Cigars With Style – Part 1, there are many varietals of cigars and several factors that can affect their flavor. We are all familiar with that friend or loved one in our group who needs to step outside to smoke a cigar after a satisfying meal. Although the choice of a cigar could purely be a matter of personal preference, there is some insight available as to the best pairings for cigars with foods and with beverages. It is essential that when we have a meal with lighter fare, such as pasta or poultry, the selection to smoke is something crisp and on the lighter side. By the same token, if one has had a heavy dinner, then the best choice for a cigar pairing could be a more robust and flavorful cigar. This is an example of the importance of choosing our pairings with care, especially when we want to get the most flavor out of our food and the bouquet of a fine cigar. Here are some suggestions to take into consideration for cigar pairings with meats, seafood, beverages, and other snacks to enjoy them like a pro.
For many who enjoy a nice cut of meat and a cigar, there is nothing better than the flavor of a well-paired cigar as a digestif to follow a more sumptuous meal. Heavier proteins such as meats and pork are active staples in the Cuban table. Imagine yourself enjoying a roasted lechón prepared in a traditional wooden Caja China and absorbing the flavors from the seasonings and the wood, almost like whiskey aging in a barrel to reach the desired maturity and luxurious taste.
Perhaps you prefer a juicy and sizzling sirloin steak, perfectly prepared duck or a rack of lamb. Since these more solid, buttery, and rich cuts would be part of a more substantial meal, the best thing to pair it with is a medium to full or full-bodied cigar. Some examples of full to medium bodied cigar are the Montecristo, 80 Aniversario or a Diplomáticos No. 2, Pirámides. As for the full-bodied cigar for those who prefer a more robust flavor, some examples are a Partagás Duke or a Bolivar Royal Coronas.
If the choice of protein is lighter fare, such as chicken or turkey or even a saucy tapas style meal, the recommended pairing to be considered is different. Perhaps, while you are overlooking a beautiful sunset in Havana while enjoying a delicious dish, you may want to consider pairing it with a light to medium bodied cigar. Some recommendations are an H. Upmann Petite Corona, Marevas and El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme, Hermosos, No. 4. These options would allow the flavor in both, your meal and the cigar, to maintain their place in your palate.
Seafood has often been known as the centerpiece of fine dining, whether you are enjoying at home or a beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean close to the Malecón. For those who are seafood lovers, there are many varieties of cigars available to accompany the diverse flavors that the fruit of the sea brings.
Everything from the seafood itself, such as a grilled fish filet to a boiled lobster or king crab, to the kinds of butter and herbs used to accompany it alters the flavor and combination of the cigar pairing. With seafood, one must keep in mind that although some types of fish, such as salmon, may have a taste on the buttery side, seafood is still considered lighter fare. This consideration suggests that the best pairing for the salt and sweetness seafood could bring would be a medium cigar, capable of balancing the sweeter and softer taste of your seafood of choice. Make sure to accompany that king crab or Linguine ai Frutti di Mare with a medium bodied cigar, perhaps with a tangy and mild flavor, such as a Flor de Cano Selectos, Cristales or a sweeter and rich tasting La Gloria Cubana, Palmitas cigar.
Just as with wine, different beverages pair more favorably with your favorite cigars. Traditionally, one would think that the pairings would only entail a fine whiskey or a glass of bourbon, neat. However, today pairings are considered for beverages ranging from coffee to beer. Some of the top recommendations, in fact, are for wine, rum, whiskey, brandy, and beer! Some lighter spirits or beverages we would combine with mixers, such as vodka, would not provide the best pairing since the flavor of the cigar would subdue the taste of the drink. One of the recommendations to ensure the right matching is to pick a beverage that does not overpower the cigar or vice versa, making sure that the richness or crispness of both elements stands out.
One natural pairing for cigars is rum. The darker the shade, the better. The pairing is complimentary as the tobacco that the cigars are made from, as well as the sugarcane that serves as the base for rum both grow in similar regions. Cuba is famous for its rum. As we know, rum is the base of two famous drinks credited to the island, the Mojito and the Daiquiri. As you are considering your pairings, find a dark rum, such as the Havana Club or the Ron Santiago de Cuba to pair with a full-bodied cigar, such as the famous Cohiba, perhaps a Laguito No. 6, with a thick girth.
The varietals of cigars all have different blends, notes, and flavors. Even the source of the wrapping can alter the final character of the cigar. It is always recommended to accompany your cigar with a bite to eat instead of an empty stomach. If you prefer lighter nibbles to pair with your cigars, some of the recommendations would be nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts. These would enhance the flavor of more nutty cigars, such as Perdomo Grand Cru Maduro, Torpedo or the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Lonsdale. Another recommendation for those with a sweet tooth would be selecting darker chocolates to help balance the notes in cigars such as the Corona, Connecticut Churchill.
If you would like to learn more about the origin of cigars, how to light a cigar for the first time, and an introduction to the different types of cigars, I invite you to once again take a look at the blog A Constellation of Cuban Cigars With Style – Part 1. This blog will give you great tips and pointers to get to know the basics of the distinctive and elegant cigar.
Whether you are a meat lover, a seafood enthusiast or a nut and chocolate fan, the most important thing is to find the flavor that best accommodates your tastes and your personal perception of flavor. One of the events coming up in Cuba in February is the 21st Annual Festival del Habano. The festival will be a gathering of connoisseurs, aficionados, and visitors alike. If you would like to gain more insight, from how to roll a cigar to more about pairings for the cigar, take advantage of this once a year opportunity to attend the festival and visit Cuba. The festival runs from February 18th to February 22nd. Make sure that you work with a reputable agency such as OnCuba Travel to get your visa to travel to Cuba and fulfill other requirements to travel to Cuba from the USA.
Also Introducing: Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars Havana Takeover – Cigar Tour
The ladies of Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars have partnered with OnCuba Travel to curate a travel experience worthy of the most indulgent cigar aficionado. Join the twins as they embark on an exploration of Cuba’s tobacco region, soak up the sights and sounds of Old Havana, discover treasures inside Cuban cigar shops and factories, sip Cuba’s finest rum, and enjoy the famous authentic Cuban cuisine
Don’t miss this opportunity!
Save the tour date: February 21-25, 2019
***By booking the Cigar & Rum Tour with OnCuba Travel, cigar aficionados will enjoy complete access to The 2019 Habanos Festival for one day.***
Other options are also available to learn more about cigars and experience Cuba, such as the Cuban Rum, Cigars, and Art tour. This tour is a four-hour excursion to give you a taste of the Corona Cigar Factory and cigar making in the land that birthed some of the best cigars and rum in the world. If you would like a more immersive experience, you may want to learn more about the five-day/four-night Cigar and Rum Tour, which offers the “perfect pairing” for cigar lovers and a curated experience of the island. Your travel team will also provide guidance on cigar shops in Cuba and where to go in Cuba. There are many other Cuba travel packages available.
On our next blog, we will cover even more reasons to visit the beautiful and historical island of Cuba. We will start with the UNESCO World Heritage sights that Cuba is famous for, such as the Viñales Valley, Old Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. We will also provide a good overview of the top events in Cuba throughout the year so that you will always know what is happening on the island when you choose to visit to get the most out of your experience. We will also review the distinct types of visas available to travel to Cuba and the meaning of the people-to-people initiative with the island of Cuba, which allows travel to Cuba with a full schedule of events and opportunities for cultural exchange. What to pack? How to dress?
Moreover, how to prepare? Don’t worry. We will provide you with an easy to follow guide to get you Cuba-ready!