Summertime has definitely arrived in Florida and with the heat index creeping over the 100 degree mark it is time to reevaluate our cigar smoking habits. In those comfortable outdoor months that comprise fall, winter and spring, I, and I’m sure many other cigar buffs, enjoy sitting outside on the patio with a good cigar and maybe a nice dark craft beer or a touch of bourbon or maybe even a glass of port. Nice cool evenings are absolutely perfect for this relaxing activity!
Well, these hot sultry nights and extremely brutal summer days force us to rethink our smokes a bit. The time for lighter beverages has arrived and as much as I love a great porter or stout or a nice glass of port, when the temperature is up in the 90s and you can wring the moisture out of the air, I head for the lighter and more refreshing drinks. An ice cold India Pale Ale or a frosty hard cider with its fruity crispness seem to be the route to take or maybe a vodka and tonic or a glass of Chardonnay. When facing these new light tasting beverages we better think about switching our cigars too. That maduro or Nicaraguan puro we enjoyed may not be the best choice for a lighter drink. We always want the cigar to complement the beverage or food and not to overwhelm it. So what are some good summer choices?
Truth be told, there are some beverages I just can’t match with a cigar. The light wines such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc just get overwhelmed with even the mildest of cigars. Most cocktails can’t hold up well either (except perhaps a Margarita.) But all is not lost… being a beer drinker myself I have found some hope. First of all we need to stash those maduros away for a few months and look for those smokes with a Connecticut shade wrapper. Any light color wrapper is a good choice but Connecticut shade seems to work the best. Then take a look at what you want to drink; is it very light, fruity and mild like a hard cider? Or have you grabbed an IPA that has a bit of bitterness from the hops? If I’m going for that IPA I’m looking for a smoke with some Nicaraguan filler so I can get that pepper flavor to complement the hoppiness in the brew. If I’m grabbing a hard cider I’m looking for some Dominican or perhaps a little touch of Honduran filler for a lighter tobacco flavor without the pepper notes.
Some great choices with an IPA are the Oliva G series, Perla del Mar, and Perdomo Connecticut Habano. I found some tasty experiences with ciders and Montecristo White Labels, Villiger Cuellar Kreme, and Ashton Classic. So stash the heavier cigars for your next trip to an air conditioned cigar bar and give these lighter cigars a try with your summer beverages for a pleasant surprise!
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits category manager: premium cigars and craft beer and Certified Retail Tobacconist
Follow me on Twitter @ABCcigarmungo