Doff the silk robe and ditch the pipe. Jason Cannata, operations manager at Havana Connections and resident "cigar nerd," says the tobacconist industry is just a bit full of itself. And don't ask him to pair premium cigars with wine. But there's nothing like the perfect cigar with the right glass of bourbon, or a hearty beer. Disclaimer: Everyone's palate is different. But here are a few good pairings from one of the smartest cigar guys in town:
Booker's whiskey + Padron 1926 ($16): This tasty, small-batch bourbon is hardcore, with high alcohol content, and Cannata says the "first sip can be overwhelming to the palate." The rich, spicy Padron 1926, with a sun-grown maduro wrapper, is "full flavored and complex," he says. "The spice will actually complement a strong bourbon. The smoothness of the cigar won't soothe the palate, but it will make [the bourbon] a little more drinkable."
Don Julio tequila + Rocky Patel, vintage 1990 ($8.55): "They both have an initial herbal flavor," Cannata says. "The cigar has a smoky quality and brought out the flavor of the tequila. It brought out the sweetness of the cigar."
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban + A. Fuente Rosado, Gran Reserva ($6.75): A sweeter Scotch with a rich color, it's first aged in white oak casks and then transferred to "ruby port pipes" from the Quintas of Portugal. "The cigar has a sun-grown wrapper that is both sweet and spicy," Cannata says. "The two flavors blend together perfectly."
Evan Williams single barrel bourbon + Tatuaje ($9): This medium-bodied bourbon works nicely with this "full-flavored, earthy and lightly peppery" cigar, hand-rolled in Miami. "The cigar makes the bourbon taste richer," Cannata says. "It brings out the sweetness."
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA + Liga Privada T52 ($11.35): Ahh, a good rich beer deserves a great cigar, just as much as the distilled spirits. One of Cannata's favorites, the Liga Privada is a "bold cigar, a lot of complexity, a lot of depth." A hoppy beer like the Dogfish 90 can have a bit of a hard edge, and the cigar smoothes it out. "The cigar gives it a creamy edge," Cannata says. "It adds a buttery quality."
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