5 Alcohol and Hookah Pairings You’ll Love and More!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Masonshishaware Blog! In today’s entry I will be focusing on great alcohol choices to pair with specific hookah flavors. Before starting I would like to add that smoking dehydrates you and alcohol only amplifies that effect on the body, smoke and drink responsibly.
Disclaimer: We are not responsible for burnt carpets, hoses, emotional breakdowns, and loss of predigested food.
Let’s set the scene. It’s Friday night, the house is filled with friends, and bottles have been popped. The question comes up: “What do we smoke?” The easiest is answer is to look at your flavor choices and what you have in a bottle or can for that matter. For example, if you have a fresh batch of Al Fakher Grapefruit Mint at the ready you shouldn’t look down at your glass of Johnny Walker and say load it up. While an argument can be made that you can drink and smoke anything, I’m here to say flavor combinations are key for making it a session and night to hazily remember. The palette is a very delicate thing and oversaturating it is always a bad time.
Citrus flavors have always struck a chord in me. They are some of my favorite smokes and they pair well with many different choices of spirits. The easiest things to pair them with are craft beers. When smoking something like Orange Keef by Ugly Hookah Tobacco or the tried and true Al Fakher Orange you want to go with something light that has an undertone of zest. The original Blue Moon and Shocktop are the most obvious choices here but paired with a summer shandy or even a craft lager you will surely be in bliss. Craft beers aren’t the only options for orange flavors however, several spirits can hit a home run. A good tequila sunrise, basic screwdriver, or a mimosa are all prime contenders as well. A broscience drink dubbed “The Creamsicle” in my circles, which is a shot or two of spiced rum and orange soda, have always been the go-to for these flavors.
Moving away from orange, lemon and lime flavors along with more tropical fruits such as guava, mango, and papaya all lead to different combinations you can go wild with. Mojitos are what I feel epitomizes the ultimate parings with these fruits. Mojitos can be made with any of these fruits and passion fruit mojitos are the best choice as they hit the tangy, zesty, cool, and refreshing notes these smokes portray.
For your ultimate alcohol and hookah pairing for the citrus category, I would say Al Fakher Orange or Orange Mint and a night of Summer Shandy’s is a good time during any part of the year. This orange flavor is not overbearingly sweet also low on nicotine and the Shandy is relatively low on alcohol content yet bold on flavor.
There are no shortages of fruit flavors in either the alcohol or hookah market making this category boil over with excellent combinations. It’s only fitting to start with an apple flavor and while there isn’t a ton of choices for true apple flavors, double apple flavors are everywhere. Since double apple primarily focuses on anise more than apple as the predominant flavor pairing it with something lighter is a must for most of the casual smokers. While I love the thought of drinking ice cold Jager on the side with some double apple that won’t be the case for everyone. For apprehensive smokers that don’t dive into the flavor often a basic apple ale is key to make this more enjoyable. Since these ales are far sweeter than most double apple flavors out there this gives the user a way to test the waters without being overcome by an anise overload. This isn’t the only option out there however, a nice spiced rum or spice oriented alcohol such as Rumchata can tone down the experience and provide you with a perfectly balanced session.
Grape flavors immediately come to mind when talking about alcohol and tobacco pairings. Many of these grape flavors are more bitter than a real grape but do give way to a slight sweetness during the session. Ugly Grape and Grape mint, Tangiers White Grape, and Trifecta True Grape are all exceptions to this rule, these flavors all focus on the natural sweetness a white grape will offer. Pairing these comes quite easy as you will want to go with a white wine that is moderate in sweetness. Don’t worry you need not break the bank buying a wine that was made from blessed soil and stamped by hobbits feet, any bottle (not box) will suffice here. You can also go with a grapefruit flavored vodka or even a sangria in case you do have a more bitter grape flavor on hand such as Nakhla Grape.
For other immensely sweet fruits like peach and berries, going on the more natural end of cocktails is always your best bet. Steer clear of the sugary drinks as these will, more often than not, oversaturate your taste buds with how sweet most of the corresponding hookah flavors are. Berries call for a margarita of sorts paired with the berry in question such as a strawberry margarita paired with Mazaya or Argelini strawberry. The citrus tones and berry decadence of these drinks and said hookah flavors go hand and hand. For a peach flavor, I would suggest going over to Pure Tobacco’s Perfect Peach and pairing it with a long island iced tea or a twisted tea hard iced tea. This combination, although strong in the alcohol department in regards to the long island, will amplify the earthy tones a true peach has. This is what I’ll recommend most to you, it’s a favorite in my household.
There are no shortages of mint hookah flavors out there but not that many mint based alcohols that focus on real mint as opposed to peppermint. Sure, you can pair Tangiers Cane Mint or Lavoo Dark mint with peppermint schnapps but where is the fun in that? It’s just too simple. Luckily for us, mint mixes with everything.
For this category, it’s important to note the time of year. You don’t want Al Fakher Mint and fireball on a scorching summer night, and you don’t want an ice-cold mojito and Trifecta Twice the Ice Extreme in winter unless you thrive in subzero temperatures internally and externally. For the warmer months pair Haze Tobacco’s What a Mint with limoncello or a Mahi Thai and for the winter months pair a subtle mint like Ugly Tobacco’s Mint with a spiced rum or whisky of your choosing. Fireball would be a good option for this as well but you may want to go with a stronger mint flavor in case it’s too much for your guests.
Spices and Robust flavors
Spice flavors are kind of in their own realm when it comes down to pairings. Many are mixes in themselves and the alcohol market is slim when it comes to choosing the right thing for them. Trial and error has found some decent mixes for these, but I’m still searching for the end all be all pairing for spicy types of flavors.
The best way to go about finding a proper pairing for these is to diagnose the flavor in its entirety. Let’s talk Tangiers Kashmir, this is a blend of masala spices that is floral and oddly gingery. Kashmir comes either as a standalone flavor or is mixed with different fruits and picking Cherry or Peach is going to help tremendously when it comes down to it. I’ve found that going with either a ginger beer or ginger ale with an added shot of the corresponding fruit flavored vodka can make for a lovely session. These will amplify the fruit tones as well as some of the spices in the blend. For extra points give the rim a rub of cardamom, light ginger, and brown sugar.
For other spice mixes, such as Haze Subzero and Afzal Paan Rasna or Bombay Masala, again you want to distinguish all the underlying notes these flavors produce and attempt to recreate them in a glass without going too bold. To highlight the mint, you need to have your recipe ice-cold and go with lighter fruits to perpetuate what you get in the smoke. In my findings, I have noticed a white wine that has somewhat of a floral tone can be a great choice or a sangria with floral aspects added as well. The key here is not to have a strong floral taste and not going too sweet either.
Cinnamon is the most prevalent form of spice when it comes down to hookah flavors and there are a lot of great choices you can make when it comes to pairings. I’m very partial to Haze Carnival Nights, Trifecta Bohemian Mix, and the new Cool Cinnamon Gum by Trifecta as well. While it should be noted that Carnival Nights isn’t cinnamon related, the pairings are very close to the other two. For these flavors, I tend to go with rumchata simply because the cinnamon in the drink isn’t overbearing and the cream taste goes hand and hand with the flavor profiles. If you are a cinnamon lover you can be bold and go for fireball for these but it won’t be for the faint of heart.
One flavor comes to mind when I think of robust smoke, and that is Trifecta Morning Glory. It’s the undisputed champ of coffee flavors on the hookah market and the title won’t be taken anytime soon. For this kind of smoke, which can be overbearing for those not used to such bold flavors, you want to go with decadence. Either a chocolate martini, white russian, or even a simple cup of coffee with a shot or two of Kahlua mixed in will do you right. That is what I suggest most to you for this category.
Not everything is fruit or spice related when it comes to hookah. That is the beauty of the hobby, there is something for everyone. These kinds of flavors pop up from time to time, and although the vast majority of them go mocked, there is still a wide fan base for each.
In this category, there is one that comes to mind, and no, Tangiers Bacon isn’t it. I’m talking about Starbuzz Lebanese Bombshell. This flavor is either despised or loved, there is no in-between. While I don’t enjoy this flavor, there is a pairing that can heighten the experience, consume enough and you may just uncross your arms and embrace the cedar and woody smoke. Although this may sound simple, I can assure you that a high-end bourbon or whisky can give you everything you need. Stay away from Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, Southern Comfort, and other mass produced spirits and go for top shelf. The lower end drinks can’t give you the flavors you need to give this a true chance. It may sound like a lot just for a cheap can of tobacco but this is about an experience not just an any day session. For this pairing I would go for either Bushmills or Jameson (although mass produced these are not your everyday varieties) just as a starting point that won’t cripple your wallet instantly.
There you have it, a list you can surely use to guide you on what to buy for your next session amongst good people. You can follow this exactly or use it loosely for your own endeavors, each palette is different and knowing what you and your group love to drink and smoke will be your best bet here. Drop us a comment with your favorite pairing and thanks for stopping by the Masonshishaware blog!