Not So Whiskey Wednesday: Pairing Soft Drinks & Cigars!

Welcome to the first article in another new recurring series that you’ll see explored from time to time. For every Not So Whiskey Wednesday breakdown, I will dive deep into many different types of non-alcoholic cigar pairings that you at home can try and then share your experience with everyone. Since I began submitting these articles, I’ve been asked more than a few times if I had thoughts on cigar pairing that didn’t involve alcohol. So, for my brothers and sisters of the leaf looking for something a little different, I hope you enjoy!

Whether you call it soda, pop, or coke, today we are talking about soft drinks. Pairing cigars with the right soft drink can diffidently enhance the flavors and experience of your smoking time. The carbonation in soft drinks tend to stimulate the palate and their sweetness are a welcoming addition to all types of cigars.

Another bonus to drinking a soft drink with your cigars has to do with the nicotine that’s in the cigar. Nicotine is known to eat away at the sugars in your blood stream causing some cigar smokers to end up nauseated, dizzy, or feeling unwell. The sugars in the soft drinks help to remedy those feelings by adding sugar back into the body thus allowing your smoking experience to be a pleasant one and not one of regret. So sit back, relax, grab an ice cold soft drink and lets talk SODA…. i mean POP…. No, no, no, I mean COLA?….. or is everything just a COKE? Who knows! Anyways, go grab one and lets go!

Our first option is one that has become widely popular in the cigar community, Dr. Pepper. Due to its 23 flavors, Dr Pepper is said to be one of the best choices to pair with cigars. The unique range of flavors in this soft drink such as pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate, makes it a great option when looking for something that can fit most cigars that we enjoy. People who tend to pair their cigars with Dr. Pepper say that one of its biggest benefits is that it doesn’t leave their mouth sticky and tired and tends to refresh their palate before each puff. From experience, I would have to agree.

When using this as a pairing option while getting ready for their article, I was impressed with how well it didn’t overwhelm my palate with sweetness and how well it helps pull flavors from cigars that I normally don’t get. It was a great experience. It tended to bring out sweeter hay notes, more complex chocolate notes, creamier nutty notes and bolder fruit notes in the different cigars I smoked. So, someone who isn’t a huge fan of Dr. Pepper, I will diffidently be adding this to my pairing options. 

Alternative Option: Dr. Pepper Cream Soda. I just happened to try this after writing this article and a completely different but same experience. While I did get the same enhancement in flavors, to me it was a lot sweeter and after a while did overwhelm my palate with sweetness. So, if you have a sweet tooth, this may be an extra option for you to try. 

 I enjoyed an Espinosa Murcielago with a Dr. Pepper.

The sweetness from the wrapper and cinnamon, pepper, and floral notes from the cigars goes fantastically with all of the flavors from the Dr Pepper, creating a completely enjoyable experience.

Okay, before you are convinced that I’m crazy let me explain. A year or so ago I was in Charleston SC and my wife and I decided to stop into a lounge that we frequent often to have a quick smoke and to escape the 100+ degree heatwave that was going on. I grabbed an Undercrown Maduro and we sat down. Being thirsty from the heat, I got up to grab a water for her and saw an Orange Fanta on the shelf. I hadn’t had one in a while so I grabbed it, went back, and sat down.

As I was smoking the cigar, I took a sip of the Fanta and what happened next was amazing. The rich chocolate notes and pepper from the Undercrown merged with the orange soda to create a wonderful mix of flavors. It was like eating creamy chocolate covered orange slice with a slight spice. Neither overpowered the other. They played so well together it was like they were best friends. Ever since, I keep mini cans of Orange Fanta stocked at all times so that when I find the chocolate bombs, I can attempt to recreate that experience over and over again.

I enjoyed a Drew Estate Undercrown Maduro with an Orange Fanta.

The chocolate notes from the Undercrown were a perfect match with the orange flavors from the Fanta!

As someone who is not a fan of anything ginger, I must say that this one was a shocker to me. When I started talking about doing this article, I was told by more than a few people that I should try Ginger Ale. Being skeptical and not really looking forward to drinking ginger ale again, I thought, “why not?” The worst possible outcome would be that I would dislike it, so there wasn’t much to lose in trying. What I found was a completely different experience than the one I anticipated.

The ginger ale actually paired fairly well. When I paired it with milder cigars the drink was a little stronger than the cigar but left the palate refreshed and ready to smoke. When I paired it with more full-bodied cigars it not only helped to keep the palate refreshed, but I found that it also toned down and rounded out the stronger pepper note a little bit. This made for a far more pleasant experience. The deep, dark notes became a little more vibrant and also changed the experience completely. If you enjoy the flavors of more full-bodied cigars but not the spice, give this a try. You may just find that you like it.

I enjoyed a Dissident Cigars Rant with a Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

Even as a huge fan of the Rant, sometimes it gets a little peppery and strong for me. The ginger ale helps to smooth the spice, bring out the flavors, and keep my palate refreshed and ready for the next puff. 

First, let me start off by saying that this one wasn’t my idea. I had never thought of pairing root beer with a cigar. I don’t know why I had never thought about it but it just never crossed my mind. During the brainstorming portion of this article, I was talking to my wife about what soft drinks is should try with a few cigars and the first thing she said was Root Beer. Neither of us every buy or drink this so I thought it was a weird idea, but with most weird ideas it could either turn out really good or horribly bad. So, I went for it. 

Not bad at all! For me, the experience of pairing the root beer with a cigar was a lot like the Dr. Pepper. I needed a cigar with some spice and bold flavors to counteract the sweetness and blend of spices from the root beer. When smoking a lighter bodied cigar, the heave flavors from the drink just took over and you couldn’t tell what you were smoking. When paired with a stronger Habano and Maduro, the root beer pulled out a lot of the sweet note from the cigar and the spice flavors from both battled each other for attention. Not a bad experience. One thing I will say about this pairing is that the root beer did leave me a little over saturated with sugar sweetness and wanting a little water after a few sips.

I enjoyed an AJ Fernandez San Lotano Requiem Habano with an A&W Root Beer.

This cigar had just enough spice to match the flavors and sweetness from the root beer.

As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I love good conversation and being able to hear about what you enjoy or what you didn’t. Until the next Whiskey (or not so whiskey) Wednesday, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff”…. and do it responsibly!