Author’s Note: Although this article was originally published on Spinfuel eMagazine, it was published there after I discontinued my association with that publication. Additionally, certain editorial changes were made that made it seem as though this article would not be kicking off a series, when in fact it is. Therefore, I have elected to reprint my work here.
Welcome to the very first in what will become a short series of articles regarding what I believe are the absolutely best pairings between different vaping hardware, eliquids, and ordinary activities you might perform on any given day.
Now, when Spinfuel posted this, they posted it as “the first, and the last” — but it isn’t the last, is it? No! It goes on! So, it might be the last of these articles they get to post, but it’s not the last one you get to read! Sorry, thought I’d take a moment to reassure you that there are more to come!
This series is titled, “Will It Blend?” to reflect just this particular question, and will tackle questions such as the right vape for certain types of hardware, certain types of drink, certain types of food, and — for the outdoor enthusiast — the right combination of hardware, vape, and active physical activity. Does it matter? Absolutely, it matters! You see, to my mind, a vape — much like a fine cigar or pipe — has optimal pairings. I guess maybe that sounds “snooty”, but it’s just an absolute fact in my experience. Some vapes just really do go better with certain situations, and by “situations”, I mean “food”, “drink” or “activity.” So, in this very first outing, I’m going to address the weekend party animal — and I’m addressing that demographic as a member in good standing of it myself — and what is likely to be the biggest question for the vaper who has just made the switch but is still new enough to find himself or herself resisting the almost overwhelming urge to backslide while drinking: What are the very best vapes for a social drinking environment?
The thing is that — and this is damned near universal, from all of the vapers I know personally and have spoken with socially — it’s in the first three to six months after having quit that the temptation to smoke remains the strongest. And one of the environments where it’s at an absolutely agonizing level of intensity is at the bar or at a party. For some reason — and I have no idea what this is about — alcohol makes a “recent non-smoker” seriously forget that he or she has switched to a life-saving substitute in the form of vapor. I don’t know — and I won’t pretend to know — just why that is. What I will tell you is that you can overcome it — if you have the right hardware and the right eliquid. That’s what the focus of this article is all about — to give you, at the very least, a platform from which to jump out into the vaping scene and, even if my personal suggestions and experiences aren’t exactly your destination, to find what’s out there that will work to prevent you from lighting up a cancer stick when the sauce is upon ya. Personal note: Please do remember that these are subjective suggestions based on my own (admittedly extensive) experience; however, your experiences may differ. And that’s all right. It’d be a pretty damned boring world if we all agreed on everything. With that said, let’s dive in!
The thing is that there are as many types of beer, let alone brands of beer, let alone labels for each brand, as there are eliquids out there. So let me make this whole thing real easy for you: I’m going to describe, in this section, the vapes which I have personally tried with each of the following beers, personally, that just really worked for me.
For me, the domestic beer that pleases the most is Budweiser Black Crown. Yes, it’s a domestic — but no, it’s not like any other domestic. How come? Because it actually tastes like beer. Budweiser Black Crown — at the time of this writing, anyway, who knows whether they’ll water it down in the future — is a robust domestic rendition of a good lager. What do I suggest pairing it with? The Plume Room, “M Type.” Why? Because when you’re dealing with a classic taste, you want to match it to a classic taste. And that’s just exactly what The Plume Room M-Type delivers. This combination of flavors is all about “classic.”
IPA being a lighter, hoppier brew, I find that it pairs best with coffee-and-cream-inspired vapes. I particularly like to combine the flavors of Stone Brewing Company’s “Ruination” IPA with “Cuppa Jolt’ from Rocket Fuel Vapes.
For me, few simple beer and vape combinations are more appealing than this one — Tsingtao and Johnson Creek Kiln House Gold Reserve. Tsingtao has a crispness that interacts so incredibly well with the light tobacco and very present citrus notes of JC’s Kiln House Gold Reserve that you simply mustn’t pass up this combination if you’re a fan of a light, crisp, and refreshing hit on a summer afternoon or evening.
Finally, for those crisp evenings, we have a deep, rich, and intensely flavorful combination in the form of Guinness Stout and Rocket Fuel Vapes “Country Bumpkin.” There has been, in my experience, nothing so sublimely satisfying as sitting beneath an open-flame torch, dining on Shepherd’s Pie, sipping Guinness Stout (poured from the tap) and vaping Rocket Fuel Vapes’ rendition of a rich, delicious pumpkin with chai spices.
Beer, particularly Stout, being a drink that’s fairly heavy on the stomach, a vape is the perfect flavor companion; it adds no calories. It adds no weight to the stomach, while depending on the beer consumed, there might be an extra something sitting there. The right vapor is the ideal companion to a social evening, and, as a bonus for those who like to make the most of a drink, vapor provides not only a socially acceptable but an economically efficient way to extend the life of a drink.
Ah, now on to ciders and other “light” drinks. What do I mean by “other light drinks”? Well, the American market, for one, is just now beginning to embrace more “exotic” imports from the United Kingdom such as Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. As a side note, a brief one, I’ve enjoyed ginger ale since I was a youngster. It felt so “grown up” to imbibe a ginger-root-flavored soft drink. Little did I know that “root beer” and “ginger ale” had their origins in booze for the lower class of Ye Merrye Olde England. But we all do grow up, eventually, and discover these things. So this section will deal with the vagaries of the many types of cider and other “carbonated adult beverages” I’ve tried with various eliquids as their partners. The thing is that “lighter” adult beverages are far more flexible in the liquids they will pair with than heavier drinks such as ales or stouts — even flavored stouts. A cider will pair well, naturally, with apple+tobacco infusions such as Halo’s “Midnight Apple” or Rocket Fuel Vapes’ “Johnny Appleseed”, but the interesting bit is that they will also pair flawlessly with cream flavor profiles. A fine and wonderful thing about ciders and ginger beers is that they are non-sweet and even a little tart. So what better to balance the flavor profile of your sippage with than a vape that adds just that hint of sweetness the drink lacks? My personal favorite here is a draught mug of Angry Orchard sweetened just a touch by Halo’s “Midnight Apple.” C’est magnifique!
Wine – Red:
Just as different wines pair better with certain types of meats, so do different types of vapes pair better with different types of wines. Now, as is the case when attempting to mate any particular vape with beers and ciders, you first have to ask yourself whether you want to complement or contrast. What I mean by that is, let’s say that you have a Port — fairly sweet, notable fruity flavor. Now, before you can choose the right vape to go with that drink, you have to decide: Do you want your vape to harmonize with that semi-sweet grape? Or do you want it to contrast it with non-sweet dryness? As with beers and ciders, you will each of you have your own favorite brand. Further complicating matters, every vintner’s expression of the “same” wine — cabernet, zinfandel, and so forth — is remarkably different from every other’s. So, again, please don’t misunderstand — I’m not trying to tell you which sip and which vape to combine, here — I’m only trying to illustrate some sound principles based on which you can more quickly and easily find your own perfect sip and vape combination. Now let’s circle back around to the opening idea of this section, and I’ll give you a few scenarios that may fit you:
If you prefer a rich, semi-sweet to sweet and fruity Red and you want those notes complimented by your vape: B.R.V. “Chesty’s Punch.” The absolutely indulgent fruit punch of “Chesty’s” beautifully complements the rich, sweet, deep grape of the sweeter Cabernets. If you like a rich, semi-sweet to sweet and fruity Red and you want those notes contrasted by your vape: Johnson Creek Kiln House Gold Reserve. The dry and citrus-heavy character of Kiln House Gold Reserve provides a beautifully well-rounded overall flavorscape when it is contrasted against a sweet Red wine.
Wine — White:
To be real straightforward with you right at this section, Dear Readers, I don’t have a lot of experience with white wines, because — as I understand it — white wines pair best with seafood. And I’m just not a fan of seafood. Will you step up, Spinfuel Readers, for this part? This is your open invitation to interact — to tell me what your favorite white wine/seafood/vape combinations are. This section is for you, and I want to hear from you on this one!
Mead has been making quite a comeback in the 21st century, and for good reason — the sweet/tart flavor profile, the buzz that comes on warm and strong, but without the chaos of hard liquor, and the lack of hangover-producing tannins makes mead one of the finest adult libations out there, refreshing as beer but with a sweeter taste and a stronger kick that won’t leave you hurting the next morning. So what to vape while quaffing a tall mug of the nectar of the gods? My personal answer, and the one I think you’ll most enjoy the most, is fruit flavors. One of my favorites with mead is Rocket Fuel Vapes “Blueberry Hill Tobacco.” The springtime-like sweetness of the blueberry and the dry, robust earthiness of the tobacco augment the rich, tart-yet-sweet character of the mead perfectly.
To me, Sake bears out its principle ingredient — rice — very strongly on the flavor front, which conveys as a strong unsweetened cereal note. I like to sweeten that with a sweet, rich custard — my go-to is “Colossus” from Cyclops Vapor.
Liquor – Clear:
Now let’s move on to the hard stuff. Da hooch, Mugzy, da baftub lightnin’! Okay, well, maybe not that old-school. I’m talkin’ about stuff 70 proof and up. I know that many of us — if not 99.9% of us — were folks for whom social drinking also meant smoking. And if you’re anything at all like me, that connection just never has faded away, even after the smoking itself has. That means that, on a night of drinking — be it light and social or rambunctious and hardcore — you’re going to still want your nicotine. And if, again, you’re like me, then you’ve transitioned from a burning cigarette being part of that combination to it being a bit of vaping hardware. But, just as with fine wines, there are certain vapes that just work with certain kinds of liquor — and some that, oh, dear Lord, just don’t. So what works well, in a vape, with clear liquors such as vodka and gin? Well, young man and young lady, it’s just about what I hope you predicted it would be:
A citrus vape. Especially one that involves lime. Example? Rocket Fuel Vapes’ Limerick. You simply cannot — cannot — beat Limerick as an accompaniment to the classic “Screwdriver” cocktail. But what if you’re more for the savory cocktail like the Bloody Mary? I hear there’s a certain curvy, pretty, and fairer half of our population who is, y’know. So what goes with a savory cocktail based on a clear liquor? You might do well with a selection from The Vapor Girl’s “Savory” lineup — specifically, The Vapor Girl “Black Peppercorn.”
Liquor – Dark:
Now that we’ve covered both sweet and spicy where clear liquors are concerned, you may be thinking that I’ve forgotten our whiskey and rum aficionados — not a bit. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, it’s with you that the weight of my experience really lies. Before we get started, though, I want to draw your attention to an omission on my part, so that you won’t notice it later on and wonder if I went out of my way to ignore it: I don’t do tequila. I can’t manage to choke down the stuff, no matter how hard I try.
I don’t know what it is — no idea. I just can’t drink tequila. So that’s why I have no suggestions for tequila-and-vape pairings. I just won’t make stuff up, and I don’t know enough of tequila to tell you what will or won’t vape well with it.
So we begin with whiskey. Granted, there are so… damned… many whiskeys in the world. And I can’t — and won’t — even begin to pretend to be an expert on them all. I’m going to tell you about a few, and let you use what I tell you as a springboard for your own explorations. That’s how it ought to be, anyhow.
Let’s begin with American whiskeys. When it comes to Bourbon, my go-to combination is Bulleit Bourbon and The Plume Room M-Type. The deep, wickedly rich fullness of Bulleit is renowned across the nation as — if not the gold standard — then absolutely a benchmark. Its deep, dark, vanilla-and-caramel-bordered-by-oak profile both sweetens and amplifies the dry and earthy no-nonsense tobacco cigarette profile of The Plume Room’s M-Type. If you want to sip and vape, and feel like an old west outlaw doing it, you can’t beat this flavor combination.
How about Scotch? Well, if you’re on a modest budget, like I am, your combination with Scotch is going to be Johnnie Walker Black Label and Vaporetti’s Como Caramel. The Johnnie Walker Black brings an intensely smokey flavor to the tongue, while Vaporetti’s Como Caramel wastes no time in smoothing that out with just the right level of buttery sweetness. And now?
Now, let’s move on to rum. I have two favorites — one is quite mild, the other furiously intense. The first is Pyrat XO, which pairs beautifully with The Plume Room’s “Candied Cavendish.” The sweet vanilla notes of the Pyrat and the creamy banana notes of the Candied Cavendish meld wondrously on the tongue and in the throat to provide a soft, luxurious feeling of peerless contentment.
And which one is the intense rum? That would be The Kraken — it’s practically like drinking 80 proof maple syrup. It is, without a doubt, an acquired taste. This is the kind of old Navy Rum that used to come with below-decks beatings and buggery. And yet. If you know what to pair it with, it is an unparalleled delight to sip with the right vape. So what’s the right vape for a sip that tastes like breakfast and shame? Something that gets as close to “loaded pancake” as possible. For me, that’s “Shmuffer Shmutter” from The Vapor Chef. The perfect blend of banana, peanut butter, and marshmallow, “Shmuffer Shmutter” mates to The Kraken like peanut butter to jelly, like Abbot to Costello. They are, in short, made to go together.
Now, this is the part where I open the floor to you, my wonderful and intrepid readers: What vape and drink combinations are your favorites? Speak up in the comments, and put on your biggest and best brags!