One of the great things about being a cigar smoker is that you eventually wind up with some friends who share the hobby. What better way to enjoy a great evening than to get together with a group of buddies, smoke some cigars, have a few drinks and guy food accompanied by a lot of stories and a lot of laughs. I’ll break this down by the individual elements, and then give you a guideline for putting it all together.
Cigars- Since your friends probably smoke a variety of cigars with varying strengths, I think that three sticks per guest works well. Here’s the major point, and although it seems obvious, doing it any other way will detract from the party. Start with a mild smoke, move to a medium and finish with something robust. The first cigar should be smooth, but not boring. A few excellent examples would be a Davidoff Grand Cru, an Ashton Cabinet or a Montecristo White. The next group should be medium with nice body, but nothing too spicy. Some suggestions for the second “course” would be a Punch Rare Corojo, a Kristoff Natural or a Padron Anniversary 1926 or 1964. To finish off, you need to determine whether your group is adventurous or a little less so. If they’re a bit heartier, try a Fausto, a Viaje WMD or a Casa Magna. If you think that full body with smoothness would work better, try a Liga Privada #9, a Camacho Triple Maduro or a Joya de Nicaragua Dark Corojo.
Drinks- The trick here is to use my “Golden Rule” of pairings. Match the body of the cigar with the drink, but make the flavor profile different. If your mild cigar is, say, a Rocky Patel Vintage 1999, which is creamy and nutty, you could go with a sweet white wine, like a Riesling or a gin and tonic because the body of both are light, but there’s a sweetness to contrast the nutty character. If you’ve selected an earthy cigar like an Alec Bradley Family Blend, a medium bodied drink with a bit of spice and/or sugar. A nice spiced rum would work well or a light, dry red wine. When you get to the bold cigars, if you go spicy by smoking, for example, an Opus X, go rich and sweet with a ruby port or a small batch Bourbon. If you try a deep, smooth smoke like a Pinar del Rio Oscuro, go full-bodied with more zip, along the lines of a good cognac or a kicky red wine along the line of chianti or syrah. Of course you can go non-alcoholic, but you’ll have fewer tales to tell later on.
Food- It’s a good idea to have food to balance out the alcohol a bit, but also to cleanse the palate between cigars. For that purpose, cheeses and crackers really work well, but you can also go for light flavored snacks of any kind, like sliders, but go easy on the spices and onion as those will linger. Sandwiches work really well. But a little restraint is important. Mixing all these flavors and alcohol don’t go well with an over-full stomach. Save the heavy flavors and foods for the end, where people will be a little more likely not to overdo. I love to cook, so I would probably end the evening with some lively wings, a hearty chili or some kind of pasta. One little idea for between cigars that works well because they have opposing flavors that kind of cancel out are mini corn dogs. The sweetness and creaminess of the coating cover up some of the spice in the dogs, but don’t serve too many.
Putting it all together- Set out the ashtrays, the lighters and cutters. I like to take the cigars out of the humidor about a half an hour beforehand and remove them from the cellophane to let them breathe and after your guests settle in, pass out the first round of drinks and cigars. The next hour or so needs no help. Just light up, imbibe and shoot the breeze. Bring out the between course snacks and repeat. Do the same for the third round. Then bring out the food to cap off the party.
Because of the time involved, this is a great thing to do on a summer afternoon, and doing it outdoors works even better as the fresh air makes the drinks, food and cigars taste even better. Also, you won’t have to listen to the complaints about the dense clouds that will be hanging around. Just forget the grill. The smells will dampen the flavors or everything.
The nice thing about a party of this type is that it will create enough stories that you’ll have more to talk about when you do it the next time. And trust me, after you do this once, you’ll want to do it again.