Puff- Puff- Pass?
Not quite. Not at all!
Sharing a cigar is as refined as the cigar itself. Who you share the cigar with, what kind of cigar you share and the occasion has indelible implications. Also, cigars are purchased with the intention of gifting; or they are given from a collection and shared before they are lit. And based on the intimate nature of a relationship, you might let someone draw from your lit cigar. But that is an exclusive privilege.
Going to a birthday party? Getting married? Has someone’s family expanded? A cigar is a customary, celebratory accoutrement. Celebratory cigars can be given to the celebrator or given by the celebrator; and may be consumed on that occasion or revered and preserved as a momentous gift.
Cigars can be gifted in gratitude (i.e. for someone’s hospitality, in response to professional support or contribution, for being invited to a special event, etc.). In that instance the expression of gratitude may align with indulging during the occasion that the cigar was given.
Trading cigars is not uncommon amongst aficionados and should come with attention to detail about the cigar and the aficionado you’re trading with. It is in poor taste and a violation of the culture to give a basic cigar in exchange for a top shelf one. Unless – and until – you’re confident in your valuation of cigars, keep your cigars to yourself.
Now that you’ve scratched the surface of cigar sharing, you’ll want to consider what to pair your cigar with.
DISCLAIMER: You can pair your cigar with any beverage of your choosing (i.e. juice, milk, Kool-Aid, etc.). However, the following recommendations are for those attempting to gain aficionado status, or to impress them.
Like any dynamic duo, balance is key. If you don’t recall anything else, the high-level pairing concept is to pair full-bodied (aroma and flavor) cigars with hard drinks and light-bodied cigars with lighter drinks. Regulate the temperature of your beverage – and the glass from which you drink it – as to accentuate the taste of your cigar and not counteract it.
Popular pairing options are rum, cognac, and whiskey. Cigars will fare well being paired with a rum from the same country. Vintage cognacs marry well with full-bodied cigars like floral or fruity cognacs complement a milder cigar. For whiskey pairings: Scotches tend to pair well with heavier cigars, Irish whiskey or Bourbons for medium bodied cigars. This also applies to pairing with a cocktail; the base should not overpower the cigar’s flavor.
Some choose to pair their cigars with wine. A robust cigar pairs better with a heavy wine like a Bordeaux or sweet wine like a Port. Chardonnay or Riesling might be more balanced with a milder cigar. And champagnes are great for the palate after a spicy cigar or between cigars. Be mindful, the more tannins a wine has the greater chance of it dominating the cigar.
There are a few less common pairings that could work. For instance, if you’re a fan of a good Tequila or Mezcal, a mild cigar would be best. When having your cigar in tandem with a good, clean tequila, please ditch the lime.
For even more of a deviation, you could opt for a non-alcoholic beverage like coffee. In keeping with the standards for alcoholic pairing, the darker and stronger the coffee, the more appropriate it would be with a poignant cigar. For a lighter or creamier cigar … you guessed it, reach for a smoother creamy coffee.
Lastly, the weather may influence your pairing choice. In a hotter climate a milder cigar with a lighter pairing, possibly a wine or even a beer might feel more refreshing. If you opt for a beer, the higher the malt content, the heavier the cigar.
Expectantly, you get the pairing jest by this point. Wherever doubtful, keep calm and take pleasure. There are no police patrolling your practice to proficiency. Cigar pairing is dictated by your palate and preferences. So, pull up to your lounge of choice and don’t hesitate to play.