Cigar tasting dinners are a perfect way to enjoy a night of luxury with friends, food, and of course, cigars – but where do you begin when it comes to hosting your own? Fear not, as we have compiled some tips and tricks to help you throw a memorable evening for yourself and fellow cigar enthusiasts. Whether you already participate in a traveling tasting dinner with rotating hosts, or whether you’ve just begun, the three pieces we’ll focus on this time are choosing a theme, planning the menu, and selecting the cigars.
Deciding on a theme for your cigar tasting dinner, especially the first few times, will make every other step that much easier. You don’t have to go full Gatsby to have a good time, but whatever theme you choose, make sure it’s something that will appeal to your guests and make the evening special. The theme could be as involved as clothing and recipes from a specific era of your group’s favorite TV show, or as simple as a focusing on particular growing region or type of tobacco. Above all, whether you’ve decided to have breakfast for dinner, or to only eat red foods, just make sure to have fun. Hosting a cigar tasting dinner is the perfect way to bring people together for an unforgettable evening of camaraderie and indulgence, so don’t get so lost in the preparation that you are unable to enjoy the moment.
With a theme in mind, the next step is to put together a curated selection of food and drink. Specialty cocktails can elevate any culinary experience when matched properly, but while preparing remain mindful of anyone who enjoys alternatives to alcohol. Consider planning courses that layer on top of one another, all building up to the cigar at the end of the evening. For the main dish, classics like grilled meats, seafood, or other savory dishes can be a great place to begin. Spaghetti and meatballs after a charcuterie board and an exotic tasting salad, for instance, can be made all at once and serve everyone with enough to take home after. Dessert can be as simple as chocolate or fruit paired with a sweet dessert wine or port, or even a simple cup of espresso. Don’t forget that there is nothing wrong with sticking to traditional recipes, especially if this is one of your first tastings, in order to really appreciate the evening’s impact on the cigar smoking experience. Also remember that you don’t have to do everything! Others can bring different dishes and drinks as well with just a little planning.
Pairing food and cigars is subjective and depends on personal preference, but these general guidelines may prove helpful for you. When selecting which cigar everyone will enjoy together, keep in mind what seasonings, sauces, aromas, and flavors your particular dishes will offer.
Beef: A full-bodied cigar, like a hearty Maduro, pairs well with a rich, marbled cut of beef like a ribeye or porterhouse. Same goes for a burger or ribs. The bold flavors of the cigar complement the meat’s robust taste. Try the Vince from Blackbird, pictured above, or the Plasencia Alma Fuerte Sixto II.
Poultry: A medium-bodied cigar, like a Connecticut or Habano, pairs well with chicken or turkey. Cigars with a milder flavor profile will be less likely to overpower the flavors of the poultry. Try the Special Sauce from Montenegro.
Seafood: A light-bodied cigar, such as a Connecticut Shade or Cameroon, pairs well with seafood. The subtle flavors of the cigar won’t overpower the delicate nuances of the fish or shellfish preparation. Try the Maya Selva Flor De Selva White Rose.
Desserts: Some will stay as far away from sweets as possible before sitting down for a cigar, but if you’re planning on serving something sugary prior to the cigar portion of the evening, there are plenty of options. A sweet, mild cigar, such as a Connecticut or Sumatra, pairs well with many desserts especially if you’re serving something that will persist on the palate for a while. Try the Henry Clay War Hawk.
Hosting a cigar tasting dinner can be a fun and luxurious way to spend an evening with friends. With the right venue, menu, cigars, and pairings, your guests are sure to have an unforgettable experience. Just remember to keep the atmosphere relaxed and conversational, and encourage everyone to share their thoughts on the cigars. So, light up your favorite cigar, pour yourself a drink, and get ready for a night of indulgence and relaxation.
Let everyone know what your favorite culinary cigar pairings are in the comments below!