So here you are. Your friends have dragged you out to a cigar lounge despite your wishes.
Now that you’re here, what the heck do you do with this thing?
Do you smoke it like a cigarette?
How do you hold it?
How long should you smoke it?
Ugh, why did you even come in the first place?? Relax! I am here to help you avoid the anxiety of being labeled the “poser” in the cigar bar. While cigar smoking is not an exact art, there are certain things that will either enhance or ruin your experience. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to smoking cigars.
Don’t inhale like a cigarette, hookah, or like you would that little green plant.
The larger size of cigars, and their strength cause inhaling to be strongly inadvisable. It can actually be quite damaging, so as with anything else, do your research. I usually tell beginners to imagine bringing smoke only about a third to half the way back into the mouth. Hold the smoke there, taste the flavors, and blow out through the mouth.
Don’t ask to “try” someone’s cigar.
Enthusiasts do like sharing cigars, which is why most of us carry more than one at a time. However, there is no passing of a single cigar. I honestly couldn’t tell you why, but just DON’T do it. Seriously.
Don’t tap your ash off like you would a cigarette.
As a new smoker, I would not recommend you let your ash remain longer than an inch or so. When it gets to this length, simply place the bottom third of your cigar to the ashtray, and roll the ash off horizontally. Sometimes you’ll see enthusiasts with very long ashes still attached. The ash keeps the cigar smoking cool, and a long, evenly burning ash signifies a well-made cigar.
Don’t ask “Do you sell Cubans here?”
*face palm* It is illegal in the United States to sell Cuban cigars. Furthermore, please do not believe the hype that Cubans are the BEST. Any aficionado will tell you that there are amazing cigars from each region.
Don’t smash out your cigar when you’re done smoking.
The odors of a cigar are very strong and quite unpleasant when smashed out. You’re done with your stick when you have smoked it to top third, removed the band (label), and can now feel heat on your lips. When you get to this point, simply lie the cigar down in the ash tray. It will extinguish itself eventually.
Use a butane torch to light your cigar.
The lighter fluid in standard lighters contains chemicals that disrupt the flavor of the cigar. If there is no butane lighter available, a wooden match would be a second option, although some enthusiasts prefer these first.
Try different shapes, sizes and profiles.
Manufacturers make cigars in several characteristic combinations. Try them all and figure out which you like best. If you start with a small flavored cigar, try a longer, non-flavored, but still mild cigar next. Keep the bands of the cigars you like so that the next time you smoke, the staff can point you to something similar but different.
Take your time.
There are shorter cigars for shorter smokes, but some sticks are to be enjoyed over the course of an hour or more. I would recommend about one puff per minute. Rushing through your cigar and drawing too frequently will completely ruin the burn, the flavor and ultimately, your experience. Sit back, relax and enjoy your stick.
Pair your cigar with a drink that you wouldn’t ordinarily drink.
I am not a snob when it comes to this topic. Most times, I drink whatever I’m in the mood for. However, when trying cigars for the first time, you should do your best to get the full experience. A simple rule of thumb is to match the body of the cigar with the body of the alcohol. For example, a mild cigar could pair well with white wine, while a more full-bodied cigar would pair well with a single-malt scotch. With that said, I don’t expect a beginner to have a palate like a seasoned vet, so that brings me to the last “DO.”
Ask for help.
If you feel unsure, or less than confident of anything, ask the staff! They are there to help. Trust me, they want you to have a pleasant experience so that you return.
Several online guides can help if you’re interested in more in-depth information. Better yet, if you’re ever in Atlanta, look me up! I am always here to help!