Read El Cigar Shop's Guide to Pairing Cuban Cocktails with Non-Cuban Cigars for great pairing recommendations! Find more rare and premium cigars online in our online cigar store. For direct help from a cigar aficionado call 215-576-5300!
Until 1960, Cuba had a monopoly on premium cigar tobacco because no one else in the world was growing it. During the revolution, many Cuban people (including some of the country’s most respected tobacco growers and cigar masters) left the country for parts of Central America, such as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
These countries have soils very similar to Cuba’s and produce tobaccos that are equally rich in flavor, strength, and depth. But nothing tastes like a Cuban cigar other than a Cuban cigar (just as nothing compares in flavor to a Nicaraguan-made cigar except a Nicaraguan cigar).
To compare Cuban cigars and non-Cubans is to liken them to French and California wines. Each is unique in its own right. But is one better than the other? It’s really a matter of your preferred taste.
While the embargo on Cuban goods has become more lenient, importing, transporting, and possessing Cuban cigars is risky at best. But some of the best Cuban-style cigars are readily available in the United States.
During the Prohibition Era, U.S. citizens often took short flights to Havana, Cuba where they could freely drink for a few days. There was a boom of bars in Havana that catered to Americans. You are probably familiar with Cuba’s signature Daiquiris, Cuba Libre (Rum-and-Cokes) and Mojitos but there is a lot more to explore.
El Cigar Shop's Recommended Cigar Pairings
Cuban Old Fashioned: One of my favorite pairings is a Cuban-style cigar and a premium Rum. Bacardi 8 Años is dark rum aged a minimum of 8 years in handmade oak then filtered through charcoal and spiced with apricots, prunes, nutmeg, and vanilla. Bacardi 8 Años can be served straight up, on the rocks, or enjoyed in one of my favorite cocktails, the Cuban Old Fashioned:
- Splash 3 drops of Angostura Bitters on a sugar cube
- Put the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and add 0.3 fl. oz. of ice cold water
- Add 4.5 cl. (1.4 fl. oz.) Bacardi 8 Años
- Stir quickly to dissolve the sugar and add 3 or 4 ice cubes
- Garnish with an orange zest
La Chaparra: La Chaparra is a rum cocktail from the infamous bar El Floridita in Old Havana and is comparable to the stateside Manhattan.
- 3/4 ounce Bacardi
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 lemon peel thoroughly squeezed
- Cracked ice
- Mix and stir in mixing glass; do not shake.
- Strain and serve very cold, leaving lemon peel in the glass
*****A cigar which is medium-bodied or more (and has some good spice to it) makes the perfect pairing to La Chaparra. The AJ Fernandez San Lotano Bull Series is peppery and bold, yet balances with the sweetness of the cocktail.
Cuba Libre: The iconic Cuban cocktail Cuba Libre is sweet, citrusy, and fizzy (and pairs perfectly with the comparable ACID Blue Blondie). Its sweet and herbal aroma with its mellow body pairs well with the cocktail. Cuba Libra is a drink that is easy to get down, as is the ACID Blue Blondie, so the smoking and drinking experiences are similar.
*****A few non-Cuban cigars to try are the premium Padrón 1926 Series, Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro, Ashton Symmetry, and My Father Flor de las Antillas. These cigars make great companions to traditional Cuban and Cuban-inspired cocktails.
There are many fine combinations of cocktails and cigars. Hopefully, you will find the pairing that suits you. Browse through our huge collection of rare and premium cigars online at El Cigar Shop. If you are near Glenside or Philadelphia PA and want to find a local walk-in humidor, visit us at 401 W Glenside Ave. You can read more of our featured articles in El Cigar Shop's Blog. For direct assistance, please call 215-576-5300 or Email Us.