Cigars are best enjoyed socially – here’s the crash course on how to build the best experience.
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There’s just something about being in your 30s that’s a wake-up call. You are not old, but you have lived enough to realize that experiences don’t just happen, they must be made.
You may find yourself planning Bachelorette parties Or a reunion as often as you bring it. Maybe you’re on your way out camping trip With your father, knowing how time can pass. Perhaps, in all the hectic hustle and bustle of modern life, you’re just looking for a quiet evening of rest and relaxation with an old friend.
No matter the circumstances, there are few things that mark a special occasion better than it Good cigarAnd nothing makes a good cigar great more than the ability to share the experience with others.
The fine art of sharing a cigar
There’s no doubt about it – cigars lay the foundation for the perfect encounter when chosen correctly.
They go with almost any occasion or time of year, carry plenty of old-school cool stuff, and work just as well with old college buddies as they do with your boss or new father. It’s not just a gift — it’s an invitation to spend time together — either in conversation or in contemplative silence — but for all of these positives, it’s still important to be smart when choosing.
Expensive cigars are not always great cigars, and as strange as it may sound, great cigars are not always truly cigar. A box of handcrafted figurines may offer sophistication and a full symphony of cocoa notes and spices, but this intensity may not make for a good starting point for someone just beginning their cigar journey. Knowing how experienced your fellow smokers are should be one of your first considerations when planning to share something.
Of course, there’s a good chance that depending on the occasion or company you’re smoking with, you won’t immediately know what your fellow smokers prefer. In such situations, one option is to simply err on the side of caution and go for light to medium thick cigars. Enthusiasts will enjoy a good quality smoke and the newcomer will appreciate the easy serving. However, a more creative solution could be the spring for every aspiring lover’s friend: sample package.
Almost every cigar manufacturer and seller on the planet offers some kind of sampler pack – a selection of different cigar flavors, sizes and styles packaged together for a surprisingly reasonable price. While this is a great way to explore different flavors and strengths on your own, it’s also a great way to satisfy a more eclectic group of smokers—allowing you to make personalized recommendations based on where people are. In addition to these benefits, there is definitely something to be said for giving all of your guests a unique cigar – everyone will feel unique and no one feels pressured to compare their experience (with the smaller cigars in the package saving newcomers the burden of smoking a lot if it turns out not to be their thing).
However, sharing a good cigar experience is not just about the cigars. Let’s talk about…
How to pair cigars
Whether you smoke alone or with a company, getting the most out of your cigars has to do with the beverage you drink along with the cigar itself. Done correctly, a good cigar pairing can create an experience greater than the sum of its parts, while a failed combination could ruin both. While the perfect pairing will vary from person to person, when it comes to building a great experience for everyone, there are some ground rules worth following.
Match intensity with intensity
You may have heard the old adage Red wine should not be served with fish. This isn’t just an outdated claim – it’s based on the fact that the lighter, more subtle flavors of most seafood run the risk of being drowned out by the stronger, earthier flavors that come from many red wines thanks to tannins; Including. This same principle is doubly important when it comes to cigars.
A lighter, lower-intensity cigar paired with a harsher, more alcoholic drink can mean that the flavors of the cigar are drowned out by whatever you’re drinking (hard Scots and strong whiskeys tend to be common culprits here). On the other hand, a heavy, high-density cigar can easily beat a lighter drink like white wine or gin.
Creating a good pairing means giving your cigar and your drink an equal chance to shine, and although it will take some experimentation and finesse, finding a good balance can make each drag improve every next sip and vice versa. And on that note…
Flavors are a must eulogydo not compete
Your pairings should be evenly matched when it comes to flavor intensity but don’t make the mistake of simply overlapping them. There’s nothing wrong with an earthy oak or earthy acorn or an earthy oak cigar, but if you put them all together, you don’t end up bringing anything new to the table.
“Our goal is harmony of flavours, not competition,” says La Aurora’s master blender. Inoa Guide. “…like the honey or treacle from mixing rum with the pepper notes from a cigar.”
Exploring flavor combinations can be as fun as finding a truly excellent match, but the tried-and-true shortcut is simply to balance one flavor with another. A creamy, chocolate stout like Guinness pairs nicely with a cigar with notes of coffee. The subtle flavors and sweetness you get Irish whiskey such as Redbreast Makes a great cigar companion with some sharpness with pepper, spice and leather notes.
Alcohol isn’t everything
Don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself to alcohol when it comes to pairing up. For all the pop culture images of men in smoky rooms holding brandy, it’s actually the coffee that’s traditionally been a cigar pairing.
With modern cigars and coffee exploding in popularity around the same time in history (both of which were grown in Central America and the Caribbean), the two have been taken together for centuries. While purists might swear that a café Cubano (traditional Cuban coffee) is the best way to go, the simple fact is that the coffee’s intensity and variety (from sweet and creamy to dark and intensely bitter) makes it a great counterpoint to almost any type of cigar.
However, don’t be afraid to break the rules. Strong tea, sugarcane soft drinks, and other beverages are quite capable of balancing well with many cigars. Remember that for any good pairing, intensity and complementary flavor are essential—alcohol is not.
If time matters, size matters
The beverage you pair your cigar with plays a pivotal role in how much you enjoy it, as does the time you give yourself to work through it. It’s true that you don’t have to smoke an entire stoji in one sitting, but as most aficionados can attest, returning to a half-finished cigar after a long break simply doesn’t offer the same flavor and enjoyment.
Says I was at a wedding And you want to celebrate the occasion with the groom and some friends.
The newlyweds probably won’t be able to take a 45-minute break from mingling with the guests to share a smoke on the porch. This does not mean that you need to give up cigars completely but it does mean that you need to be strategic when choosing a size.
This does not mean that you have to know the difference between a ‘Presidente’ and a ‘double toro’ or a ‘small panatela’ and a ‘lonsdale’ but it is important to understand that the range of cigar length and gauges (thickness) of a cigar is not incidental – it is there to give you the ability to choose A cigar that fits whatever time budget you work with.
In a social setting (bachelorette party, reception, etc.), a shorter cigar such as a small areola (usually less than five inches) will allow you to enjoy a fine cigar experience without rushing out (and either making yourself sick or ruining the flavor in the process). Smaller cigars can also be great choices when you need to smoke outdoors in extreme cold weather or uncomfortable hot weather. On the other hand, a setting in which you have more time to kill (sitting by a campfire or at a game of blackjack) may require more. Longer and/or thicker cigars.
Location Is Everything (And Other Considerations)
Make no mistake: cigars—even the lighter ones—can be stinging. Even during the height of cigars’ popularity in ye-olden-times, retiring to a custom room filled with smoke-absorbing velvet decor was common practice. Although it should not be said, caring for others should be an essential part of your plan when you are looking to share a cigar.
When it comes to choosing a location, the great outdoors should be at the top of your list. Few places make a better setting than a backyard on a nice summer evening, and fresh air can be great for helping new smokers avoid fumes. If you’re at a public event like an outdoor wedding, make an effort to stand out from the crowd – nothing ruins a good cigar like dirty looks from the people around you (or worse, having someone ask you to move).
Don’t be afraid of cigar bars and lounges. While levels of elegance will vary from place to place, there are few places better suited to smoking cigars than a designated cigar smoking space – and even some specialty shops will be equipped with an attached room to sit and relax.
No matter where you end up smoking, the best practice is to be prepared. Too many great smoking experiences have been ruined by the sudden realization that you’ve bought a great cigar but have nothing to cut or light with them (and yes, I’m speaking from traumatic experience). A decent, middle-of-the-road guillotine blade only costs about ten bucks (on the high end), and most tobacconists are happy to throw in a bunch of matches for free if you order them at the checkout.
Keep in mind that cigar smoke will wear your clothes. Yes, it will come off during the wash but it’s still good practice to encourage your guests Not Wearing their finest clothes when you know you’re going to smoke (especially if, at an unlucky moment, ash flies out of your cigar).
But with all these details, remember …
Cigars are meant to be enjoyed
This isn’t just a warning against being overbearing or guarded – it’s a critical reminder not to get sucked into the etiquette and complexities of building a perfect experience when your real goal is to build an enjoyable experience.
You don’t bring people together to smoke cigars, you smoke cigars to bring people together – creating a time for conversation, celebration and bonding.
If any principle, trick, or tip doesn’t make your smoking experience more enjoyable for you and the people around you, then it’s not worth pursuing.
It’s not about status. It’s not about some cheap mask of masculinity or a facade of sophistication. It’s about having fun, pure and simple – and sharing that time with the people around you!