Three Cocktails And Cigar Pairings To Get You Through The Colder Months

Winter is on its way, and in my humble opinion, there is no better solace than that which is to be found in a soothing drink and a gorgeous cigar. Whilst I am usually a spirit drinker (scotch being the way to my heart), my fascination for mixology leads me to experiment with cocktails and cigars on a regular basis. I love the seemingly endless possibilities of cocktails: they can be refreshing, warming, sweet or savoury, and have an intrinsically seasonal quality. With that in mind, I thought I would write about some tried and tested winter warmers which I have read about and enjoyed myself. Of course, no guide of mine is complete without cigar pairing recommendations… 

The Winter Negroni + Plasencia Alma Fuerte Robusto 

This pairing is all at once sweet and spicy, externalising the beauty of dark chocolate and orange. 

The winter negroni is a luscious twist on a classic cocktail. Simply slice an orange into 5 mm slices before coating them in caster sugar. Grease a non stick pan and, over a medium heat, cook the oranges for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are dark and caramelised. Finally, combine the juice of two oranges with 85g of caster sugar and simmer for five minutes until it has thickened into a syrup. Simply fill your serving glasses with ice cubes, combine 250ml of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari into a large jug before dividing among the glasses, topping with the warm syrup and caramelised orange slices. 

A drink like this calls for a full bodied offering, which will not shy away from intense flavours. ‘Alma Fuerte’ means ‘strong soul,’ and there is no doubt that the Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generacion V Salomon lives up to its name: unapologetically full bodied, with balanced flavours and a spicy, lingering finish. This is a perfect pairing for the winter negroni, as the richness of the drink will be balanced by the leather and black pepper of the cigar, whilst the deep coffee and dark chocolate notes of the latter serve as a perfect accompaniment to the tart orange notes of the cocktail. 

The Golden Tail + Montecristo Open Eagle 

The Golden Tail is a complex and soothing cocktail. Combine 2oz of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, 0.75oz of lemon juice, 0.5oz of honey simple syrup (comprised of a simple 2:1 ratio of honey and water), 0.25oz of Allspice Dram, and chocolate bitters to taste in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until beautifully chilled and strain into a coupe. To finish, take a strip of lemon peel and, with the peel facing the top of the glass (in other words, pith side up), gently squeeze it to express the natural oils onto the surface of the drink. Rub the peel along the rim of the glass before discarding it. 

This drink presents the palate with brown sugar, caramel and vanilla from the whiskey, bitey cocoa from the bitters and a smooth citrus note which balances out the profile: enter the Montecristo Open Eagle. The cigar is loaded with sweetness, creamy cocoa, oak, black pepper, leather and notes of cedar-like baking spice. As such, it both complements the caramel and brown sugar and accentuates the sharpness of the bitters. In one word: sublime. 

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Old Fashioned + Arturo Fuente Flor de Fina 8-5-8 Anniversario 

Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of the smooth talking womaniser Jacob Palmer in Crazy Stupid Love; Jon Hamm as the suave and sophisticated Don Draper in Mad Men. These characters attract the attention of everyone in the room, with their cool demeanour and gritty portrayals of masculinity which are supplemented by their choice of beverage, a choice which catalysed the resurgence of a timeless and quintessential cocktail. Which cocktail? The Old Fashioned of course.

This offering is as old as cocktails themselves, and there is no better time to become reacquainted with the old fashioned than during the bitter winter months. To make this cocktail, simply add a bar spoon of simple syrup and two dashes of Angostura bitters to the bottom of a chilled rocks glass, before adding 20z of your preferred rye or bourbon. Should you not have simple syrup on hand, a sugar cube works just as well, but be sure to muddle it with the bitters before adding your spirit. Add 3-4 small ice cubes to the glass and stir until chilled. Squeeze an orange twist over the drink to express the essential oils from the peel, before running it along the rim of the glass and dropping it in as a garnish. Voila: simple, sophisticated, timeless.

For this particular pairing, my spirit of choice is Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon, which I first enjoyed in this cocktail at Heartbreaker Bar in Melbourne. The delicate aromas of toffee and orange peel pair nicely with the bitters, whilst flavours of candied almonds and rich cocoa are brought to to life in the cocktail. As such, it is only fitting to pair this cocktail with a cigar that is as complex and delicate: the Arturo Fuente Flor de Fina 8-5-8 Anniversario. The spicy cedar, bitter orange peel and baking spices complement the Angostura bitters and orange notes in the cocktail, whilst the creamy cocoa and black pepper enhance the chocolate notes in the bourbon. The leathery profile of the cigar provides a gritty and complex contrast to the sweetness of the Old Fashioned. Perfection. 

There we have it, three cocktails guaranteed to warm you up, each paired with a cigar to take you on a sensory journey like no other. When the weather outside is frightening, what more could you want?

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