Smoke Pairings: It’s a Thing
Tobacco is a slippery and oftentimes polarizing slope. Some of us love to indulge in a celebratory smoke on occasion, while others detest the very notion. The havoc wrought by overuse of industrial tobacco products is undeniable. Meanwhile, many of us hold on to the romantic promise of an after dinner smoke, the armchair pipe, or the gloved hand of a beautiful woman balancing a cigarette holder between her pointer and middle fingers. I’d place myself firmly in the romantic category. Just like drinking and eating, smoking can be done in moderation if you so choose. Moderation in this case might be once a year, but that’s what makes it so special. Think about it: How many Thanksgiving Days could you possibly take?
Not only how much, but what you smoke really matters. Industrial tobacco products contain a variety of questionable ingredients. Always choose quality products. And always be sure to pair your smoke with a delicious beverage. It’s an age-old practice rife with opportunities to elicit arcane tasting notes and create an otherworldly sensorial experience.
It’s time to break out your smoking jacket and indulge. Remember, a special holiday smoke pairing is a chance to escape a tension-filled holiday table. Smoking is ideal for the outdoors. And if you are indoors, ventilation is so important when you’re trying to activate your palate and olfactory faculties at the same time. Open windows and doors.
Without further ado, here are my top three special occasion holiday smoke pairings.
Mullein & Masala Chai
Mullein is one of my favorite smoke-friendly medicinal herbs. It’s widely available in tea bags, but has been rolled and smoked as a lung tonic for centuries. It may seem counter-intuitive, but yes, smoking mullein soothes raw and vulnerable membranes in the throat and lungs. Pair it with a piping hot Masala Chai to break an intractable cough, or just enjoy it with a calm moment of repose. Get the Masala Chai recipe here.
Nat Sherman Fantasia and Steely Chardonnay
This is celebration in a box. Fantasias are long, slender, and elegantly rolled tufts of natural tobacco in delightfully colored papers -- red, yellow, pink, green and blue. Aren't you saying "hooray!" at the thought? Pair yours with an ocean floor-drenched, mineral-rich Chardonnay. It will highlight the Fantasia's lightly toasted vanilla and plant-heavy tobacco flavors.
I experienced this pairing in the luxuriously delightful lounge at Davidoff of Geneva in New York City’s Brookfield Place. And although we were in the city, this pairing took me deep into the Hundred Acre Wood on a foggy fall morning. The pairing was like scratching a birch tree trunk while crushing dried maple leaves under my feet with a great big inhale of mossy dew. PS: Any old whiskey won’t do. Learn more about Brenne’s unique story here.