Sunday brunch is always a treat, especially when a cigar lover can smoke one of his/her favorite morning smokes. Coffee goes well with a mild cigar, and the leisurely pace of a long breakfast is conducive to the enjoyment of a fine puro. Plus, that first cigar of the day is exceptionally enjoyable. But what about that other Sunday brunch staple…the Bloody Mary? Would that pair well with a cigar? I had my doubts until…
Recently, I had some out-of-town visitors who share my passion for cigars. They were due to arrive mid-morning, and I wanted to make the event special by making some of my “famous” Bloody Marys. But this presented a dilemma…would a cigar pair well with such a strong, spicy, and pungent drink? I knew from experience that pairing a cigar with citrus beverages simply doesn’t work. For example, the tartness of lemonade causes the tongue to “retreat” (my completely unscientific term). It’s as if my mouth has to brace itself against the acidic effect of the lemon juice. This, in turn, closes down the taste sensors on the tongue, making the enjoyment of a cigar simply impossible. This experience made me skeptical that a cigar would taste good alongside a beverage as tart as a Bloody Mary. For this to work, pairing with the right cigar was crucial. It wasn’t until we stood in front of my humidor that I realized I had a good candidate for this experiment.
Looking over my cigar collection, I had associations with each stick that seemed to speak to me. No…no…no… and then finally YES! We ended up chosing the Joya De Nicaragua Quatro Cinco Toro. I figured this mild cigar, with its citrus-like flavor, just might be a good mate with a Bloody Mary. Plus, its easy draw and large size would allow for a long, leisurely smoking experience.
Upon lighting, it became instantly clear that this was going to be something special. To our delight, the Quatro Cinco and that Bloody Mary turned out to be a sublime pairing. The flavors seemed to enhance each other, encouraging a puff with each sip. We couldn’t get enough of this sensual stimulation. And the enjoyment continued well into our second round of that wonderfully delicious and complex cocktail.
Since then I have smoked a number of other cigars with the Bloody Mary, and found that, indeed, not every cigar is compatible. Choosing a cigar with a lighter, more floral, or citrus flavor profile seems to be key. Anything remotely earthy just doesn’t work. For this reason, Cuban cigars pair particularly well.
So, the next time you are hosting your cigar friends for a Sunday brunch, I highly recommend you try this pairing. It’s a cigar smoker’s crowd pleaser.
Robustojoe’s “Famous” Bloody Mary Recipe
Serving size: 4
32 oz Clamato Juice (tomato juice isn’t as tasty)
4 tbs freshly grated horseradish root, moistened with a dash of apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
16 “shakes” of Worcestershire Sauce
A few dashes of hot sauce
A pinch of cayenne
1 tbs celery seed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Thick cut bacon
4 celery stalks
8 green queen olives stuffed with pimento
Combine all ingredients in a small pitcher and chill until very cold.
Fry bacon until crispy.
Pour 1.5 oz vodka over ice in a Tom Collins glass.
Stir the Bloody Mary mix, and pour over the vodka and ice.
Garnish with bacon, celery stalks, and olives.
A tall straw makes it easier to drink.