An Orange Summer
I know that the weather where most of my readers are located is completely opposite to mine, but here in Chile we are experiencing such a summer heat wave that I could not resist the temptation to put together a fresh and citric pairing.
Perusing through my cellar I found the Orange Rhum Liqueur from Santa Teresa and could not resist using it as a foundation for the pairing, in addition to Orange Bitters from Angostura and plenty of ice.
For a cocktail like this one, I needed a cigar that would not take very long to smoke, since I do not want to end up baking in the sun by the time I finish smoking it. Instead, I want to enjoy and refresh myself. With this in mind, I selected a Belicoso from Oliva (5 x 54), “Serie V Ligero Especial”. This is a “puro” cigar from Nicaragua, with a “ligero” (light) filler from the Jalapa Valley and a Habana Sun Grown wrapper, with a semi-maduro appearance. Under this same cigar line you can find other shapes, both regular and Figurados. In my case, as I mentioned previously, I wanted a short smoke so I opted for the Belicoso.
Start with a white wine glass, chilled. I rinsed mine with water and placed it in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes. Fill up the glass with ice cubes, preferably small, but not too small that they will melt too quickly. Add 10 drops of the Angostura Orange Bitters (28% ABV) and stir the ice cubes around with a spoon. You will notice how the glass becomes saturated with the aromas from the bitters. Add 2 ounces of the Santa Teresa Rhum Orange (40% ABV) and garnish with a piece of mandarin orange. That’s it! This is such an easy cocktail to prepare, and I highly recommend it.
Now it is time for me to light up my cigar. The aromas emanating from the cigar, even before I lit it up were reminiscent of bitter chocolate and freshly-ground coffee. Smoking the first third was very enjoyable, the cigar had a medium to high intensity level and an excellent draw. Undoubtedly it deserves the high points it has received from the trade magazines over the last couple of years.
From the very beginning this pairing was fascinating to me. It was everything I had imagined it would be, with fresh citric notes, subtle caramel combined with sweet tropical oranges and, of course, the fresh notes from the piece of mandarin orange. Each one of these ingredients contributed to make this a unique pairing. Trust me when I stress the need to use all of the ingredients in the cocktail, as missing even one of them would not result in the same experience.
Even though we reach the second third of the cigar fairly quickly, both the cigar and the cocktail continue to complement each other, with the basic aromas from the cigar intertwined with the chocolate, coffee, caramel, orange, even the viscosity and texture in the mouth. This was even more refreshing than a Rum Old Fashioned.
Believe it or not, when I finished the pairing I had to prepare myself another drink because I enjoyed it that much and I rarely do this. I will keep this pairing filed under the heading of “easy to fall in love with”. I hope you are able to recreate this pairing, the ingredients may be a bit hard to find, but once you have them I guarantee you will enjoy the outcome.
Philip Ili Barake