For cigar smokers, the question of the health risks of cigars is an often-debated topic. Beyond debate, however, is the sad fact that when you smoke irresponsibly, tragedy can be the result.
This was the case for Lyn Baumeister, who was killed after her husband’s discarded cigar caught fire in a trash can. The fire spread to the sofa, and the toxic fumes released by the combustion killed Mrs. Baumeister and her seven month old black lab.
“The chair had been set alight by a cigar discarded by her former partner George, with whom she still lived. He had stubbed it into an ashtray and then into a waste paper basket. He then left for work, unaware it was still smouldering…
She left three children and six grandchildren.”
This tragic story should remind every cigar smoker that when you are done with a cigar, DO NOT PUT IT IN A GARBAGE CAN. Simply set it down in your ash tray, ember towards the center, and let it go out to avoid risk of an ember catching. And if you are smoking inside, take the extra precaution and take your cigar outside.
It is really hard to hate a cigar lounge. From the beginning of the experience (saying hello and picking out a cigar) to the final puff and the stroll back outside, the experience is meant to help us relax and enjoy the art and elegance of the leaf. That doesn’t mean that this thoughtfully designed experience is always a sanctuary from stress. Most veteran cigar smokers have seen the experience soiled by loud and idiotic patrons, rude shop owners, and a whole slew of other distractions. So, what exactly is it that pisses us off?
In order to come up with the list below, I took to our social networks, particularly our Facebook page, and asked our audience what their biggest lounge pet peeves are. I also dropped by Twitter and the Reddit cigar community (r/cigars) and was given some great insight.
If you are a new cigar smoker heading to a lounge or just hoping to get through the cigar bar experience without alienating your boss and his heavy-hitting friends, this might be a helpful list of things NOT to do next time you are out at a lounge.
13 Ways to Make Everyone at a Cigar Lounge Hate You
1. Lick the wrapper of your cigar before having it cut.
This tradition of licking the wrapper before lighting is really a vestige of a forgotten past when cigars were not humidified properly by importers and shops. 99% of the cigars you see, touch, and smoke in a shop are humidified perfectly, so go easy on the slobber – it really won’t make you look like an aficionado.
2. Criticize or belittle someone’s cigar choice.
Don’t do it. It doesn’t matter if their cigar costs $2 or $25. If it isn’t your flavor profile, don’t ruin it for someone else (yes, complaining about a cigar will taint their perception of it even if it’s a great stick).
3. Tell everyone how that Cuban you had the other day was better than every other cigarever.
This is the other side of the cigar criticism coin. No one gives a damn if you smoked a Cuban. You don’t sound cool by repeating that you did. And yet every 5 minutes someone on this planet has the urge to affirm themselves by touting their Cuban cigar experience.
Want to know the likely truth? That Cuban you had in Puerto Rico on your business trip was probably a fake. It was probably made of some generic Dominican tobaccos and given a fake Cohiba wrapper.
And even if it was a real Cuban, this is typically how the conversation goes, and this is how dumb you will likely sound:
Cigar smoker 1: “Dude yeah I love cigars. I was smoking this cuban the other day it was so good.”
Cigar smoker 2: “Yeah? What was it?”
Cigar smoker 1: “A Cuban, it was so good, so much better than anything here.”
Cigar smoker 2: “I heard you. I asked which Cuban.”
Cigar smoker 1: “Uh a churchill I think. It was so good.”
Be prepared to receive an annoyed expression.
4. Interject into another conversation and quickly begin talking about yourself and your opinions.
This really is common sense, but it deserves repeating because of the way that cigars tend to bring out the egos of those who only smoke to stroke their ego: stop talking about yourself so much. Chances are, you are much less interesting than you think you are, and you might just find that those around you are interesting themselves.
5. Start a heated debate on politics and religion.
As much as you might love talking about the importance of metaphysical realism to the development of Western rights theory, or your most hated politicians, etc., there are just some topics that, unless you really know the person you are speaking to (one on one), you should avoid.
Cigars draw all sorts of individuals together, and that means people with wildly varying political and religious sensibilities. So before you go bashing Obama as a Muslim socialist or talking about how dumb you think conservatives are, take a moment to check yourself, and perhaps instead ask your friends if they have any special plans for the season or what their favorite spirit to pair is.
6. Blow smoke in someone’s face.
I’ll admit, I’ve done this a few times back when I first started smoking. But the truth is, it really isn’t funny. Enjoy your own cigar and let your fellow cigar smokers enjoy theirs.
7. Light up a cigarette.
How would you like it if I poured some kool-aid into that nice $40 bottle of wine you are drinking? Oh, you wouldn’t? Then please don’t pollute everyone’s smoking experience by blowing cigarette smoke everywhere, because it is the same thing. Aroma makes up 80% of the taste for many cigar smokers (myself included), and I can smell cigarette smoke immediately, even across the room.
It will ruin everyone’s smoking experience, and you will not be making any friends.
8. Puff another person’s cigar.
Don’t do it. As Aguilar7 on r/cigars put it, “It’s like asking to kiss someone’s spouse, to see what it’s like; get your own.”
9. Mooch cigars off of other cigar smokers.
When you’re sitting down, relaxing with a nice cigar, the last thing you want to hear is someone all-too-politely beating around the bush about how much they want to try the cigar that you just bought five of. Even if you know that there is a particularly generous cigar smoker that might bless you with a free stick, don’t be a cigar bum. Save your own money, buy your own cigars.
If you really want to, ask another BOTL if he’ll trade some cigars with you so it is a fair deal.
10. Give yourself generous amounts of other people’s liquor without supplying any.
Cigar smokers are some of the most consistently generous people you will ever meet. But don’t take advantage of that fact. If someone brings a bottle to share and offers you some, accept it graciously. But if you didn’t bring any to share, be polite and forgo pouring yourself more glasses of their hard-earned money.
11. Walk away with someone else’s cutter or lighter.
I can’t even count the amount of torch lighters and cutters I’ve lost because I let some forgetful person borrow them only to have my tools vanish. It’s normal to borrow cutters or a lighter – just be sure you don’t walk off and enter a deep conversation while your friend is forced to now borrow another cutter or lighter.
12. Stamp out your cigar when you’re finished with it.
Cigars are not cigarettes – don’t treat them the same. It is considered bad manners to smash a cigar against an ash tray when you are done smoking.
13. Get drunk and smoke too many cigars – throw up everywhere.
Yeah, this happens. No, your boss won’t be impressed. But your friends will laugh – at you. Not only that, you’ll smell like cigar smoke and puke. And that’s disgusting.
Head spinning from so many rules? Well, don’t be discouraged. The common thread running through all of these rules is common sense, civility, and thoughtfulness. Don’t show off – just show up prepared to relax and enjoy the company of others.
If you live in the New York City area, don’t forget to sign up for invitations to exclusive FineTobaccoNYC cigar and whiskey events. To sign up, click here.
I’m not sure whether there’s any kind of academic, peer-reviewed research to prove this, but everyone knows it anyway: there’s something about cigars that just fosters greatness. They deliver not only a pleasing aroma and an excellent taste, but a certain state of mind that oozes with panache and savoir-faire.
Whatever the reason, great men tend to smoke cigars. Here are some of the great things they’ve said while smoking them:
1. “I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time” – Mark Twain
2. “You should hurry up and acquire the cigar habit. It’s one of the major happinesses. And so much more lasting than love, so much less costly in emotional wear and tear.” – Aldous Huxley
3. “Lastly (and this is, perhaps, the golden rule), no woman should marry a man who does not smoke.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
4. “I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.” -Winston Churchill
5. They had no good cigars there, my Lord; I left the place in disgust.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, English poet, returning from Venice
Who has a favorite cigar quote? Leave it in the comments!
Every hobby has its myths, and new hobbyists tend to have to go through periods of believing some silly myths (i.e. all wine gets better with age, the Irish invented distilling, etc). So recently I took to Reddit (r/cigars), to try to isolate the top myths related to cigars.
So, without further ado, here are some of the top myths many still believe about cigars and cigar smoking. The list is ordered from the most silly myths, to ones that many veteran cigar smokers still believe today:
Myth #1: “Cuban cigars are unequivocally the best in the world.” (submitted by venganza24)
This myth crops up time and again, mostly from the uneducated cigar smokers, but also from many wealthy cigar smokers who are “Cuban only.” Though it might be true that Cuban cigars are very good and even some of the best in the world, it is impossible to make the blanket statement that Cubans are the best for a few reasons.
First, tastes are relative. Some profiles are enjoyable to one cigar smoker and unenjoyable to others. If you love the kick of a spicy Nicaraguan puro, you might not have the same appreciation for most Cuban cigars, and vice-versa. Second, since the embargo, quality standards in terms of quality control, construction, and technology in countries like Nicaragua, the D.R., Honduras, etc., have increased one hundred fold, rivaling and on average besting Cuban cigars in quality (and I’ve had many Cuban cigars).
So why do people (including seasoned cigar smokers) continue to insist that Cubans are categorically better? For U.S. smokers, it is typically because Cubans are not available in the states, so people tend to elevate them by perception alone. For European smokers that love to boast about how amazing Cubans are, I’ve found that it is often, simply put, snobbery. Most importantly, however, is that Cuban cigars are seen as a status symbol of the sophisticated and well-off.
Myth #2: “All cigar smokers are snobs.”
Put a large number of people together to talk about a hobby, and there will be snobs. Hell, I’m willing to be that if you put 20 clay-mation animators in a room and had them watch Wallace & Gromit, at least one of them would look down his nose.
So why the wide-spread perception that cigar smokers are snobs? Well, we have Hollywood to thank for that, along with the already-snobbish who get into cigar smoking just so that they can be extra-snobby.
Myth #3: “Cigar smoking is for the wealthy.” (submitted by aguilar7)
If this myth were true, I certainly wouldn’t be smoking cigars, and neither would most of my friends. This myth is, like others, supported by Hollywood, who often portrays cigar smokers as wealthy, corrupt, or criminal. Of course, it is true that some cigars are expensive, and some idiotic companies even play this myth to their advantage.
The truth is, there are many world class cigars for under $5 a piece. If you are wise with your money and don’t overspend, even a poor college student can have good sticks on hand for special occasions or even a regular smoke with friends.
Myth #4: “The darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar.” (submitted by MattyBlayze)
Many beginning cigar aficionados make the understandable mistake of assuming that if a cigar has a dark wrapper, it must be a strong cigar. The truth is, there are plenty of incredibly dark cigars that, though flavorful, are hardly what I would call powerhouse cigars (e.g. Macanudo Maduro 1997, Rocky Patel OWR, Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro, etc). Additionally, there are lots of cigars that, though lighter in complexion, pack a serious punch (some Savinelli cigars, Hispaniola Connecticut, etc).
Myth #5: “A cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper.” (submitted by MattyBlayze)
This isn’t a myth you’ll hear a lot about from the uninformed. Although it comes from a generally true observation (the wrapper adds a lot of flavor to a cigar), many cigar smokers will emphasize the point a bit past what is true. A cigar’s flavor is determined by a lot more than the type of wrapper. The size/shape (vitola) has a lot to do with what you’ll taste in a cigar, and so too the binder/filler tobaccos have a lot to do with the taste as well.
Myth #6: “White ash means the tobacco is high quality.”
This myth has always struck me as a bit bizarre, but the reasons for it seem pretty clear. It seems like human nature to connect purity to quality. We do it all the time with wine, cigars, whiskey, fabrics, you name it. If the ash looks “clean” then the tobacco must be processed better, right?
Wrong. Cigars with very white ash tend to have higher amounts of of calcium and magnesium, which, though important for a good cigar, don’t make a good cigar. There are plenty of cigars with salt and pepper ash that smoke incredibly well, and I’ve had white-ash cigars that are incredibly bland. A good discussion on it here.
What cigar myths are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below. I can think of one more off of the top of my head, which I’ll have to credit to psi_chi from r/cigars:
“My favorite myth: you can keep money in your bank account once you start smoking cigars.”
Big Ronnie is back smoke fans. In my last post, we reviewed some basics about cigar care and aging. We also reviewed ways to store premium hand-rolled cigars and some basic humidor types. Assuming that our readers have the basics down and are now ready to get a little flashy, the topic of this post will be accessories (cutters, lighters, etc).
What’s the difference between a soft flame lighter and a torch? Why wouldn’t you use a punch cutter on a torpedo? How much do I have to spend to get a blah blah blah blah….
All your questions will be answered grasshoppers. After this post, all you have to do is pick the price range for your new goodies and infuse your own personal stye into your choices. Floss. Go fancy. Get extravagant. Or not. Completely up to you.
Many cigar accessories are geared to either personal or shared use. We’ll review what is reasonable to share and travel with, and what is best for home or club use. Will you share your new toys? I think you will.
Cigar accessories serve a greater role than merely prepping your cigar to be enjoyed. They are a reflection of your own style and often inspire more conversation than cigars themselves. Pick up any copy of Cigar Aficionado magazine, you will see pages of accessory reviews, from affordable, entry-level items, to items that are to be wished about as they are unattainable to most.
OK Big Ronnie, I think I’d like to purchase a quality cigar lighter, what should I get?
Before you make any accessory choice, you have to consider the lifestyle of the owner and try to estimate the actual (not intended) use.
Where will you keep it? Will you travel with it? How often will you use it? Do you want it to be a conversation piece?
Depending on the user and preference of style, you have several different lighter types available. There are many manufacturers of many lighter styles. Some manufacturers have large lines of varied lighters, others only specialize in the high end. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, cigarette lighters should not be used to light cigars. Cigar lighters typically have larger/multiple flames and require more butane than cigarette lighters. Even traditional lighters like Zippos, while about as Americana as it gets, are not well suited to handling cigars due to using liquid gas, as the smell that may be transferred to your cigar.
There are 2 flame choices when it comes to lighters. Soft flame and torch.
Soft flame lighters are like candle light and have a soft orange/yellow flame.
Torch lighters are jet based (and have a hissing noise when lit) and use more butane than soft flame lighters and typically have more than one jet. Three or even five flame torches are common.
My favorite torch cigar lighter is the Rocky Patel 5 Burner Torch. Technically, a table lighter (to be used by multiple smokers at a time), it has 3 different size cigar punches (cutters) in the base and holds a ton of butane (I unfortunately lost mine to the TSA when I forgot it on a carry-on flight back from Vegas in ’05. Booooo). Basic, single flame torches start at about $5 for disposable models and about $25 for refillable, more presentable models. The most expensive (generally available) torch out there is about $120.
Soft flame lighters are the most popular choice and are offered by every manufacturer. You can purchase basic soft flame lighters from manufacturers like Colibri or Prometheus. Prices on basic soft flame lighters start at about $20 and will cost upward of $120 for premium models. There are literally hundreds of styles to choose from and you really are only limited by your imagination and budget.
What about nicer than premium Ronnie?
Well, if you want to go crazy, or just hit the lottery, there are may ways you can floss with cigar accessories. Gold plated, hand inlaid cigar bands, jeweled, Chinese lacquer, and about 50 other unnecessary options are available. I went a little nuts about 10 years ago when I bought the lighter I still carry. The company is S.T. Dupont and my gunmetal finish solid brass lighter is a beast. This Ligne2 (dual flamed cigar lighter) is a favorite and has never clogged or let me down. My Dupont is a discontinued model and is currently selling for more than the $650 I paid for mine.
Also, keep in mind that when you buy a quality lighter, you should make sure you pick up the case. The matching crocodile skin leather case for my S.T. Dupont Ligne2 lighter is $150. Yes, $800 is unnecessary for a cigar lighter, but in my position as the sexiest Ambassador for the Cigar Rights of America out there, I light a lot of cigars and I insist on impressing. One piece of advice for those investing in a quality cigar lighter – do not fly internationally with them in your carry-on. Domestically, the TSA recognizes cigar accessories and will not confiscate them, but internationally it’s the wild West. Play it safe and check your lighters every time.
What about cutters Big Ronnie, do you have some crazy cigar cutter you roll with?
Of course, but we”ll get to that in a minute.
A cigar cutter is a device with a blade of some sort that prepares a cigar to be lit. The goal for most cigars is to remove the smallest amount of tobacco possible in order to draw the smoke through the cigar. Most cigar cutters accomplish this through the use of blades. Single blade guillotine-style cutters have been popular and classy for over 100 years. Double blade cutters are the most popular styles among affordable ($10-$50) cutters. Some manufacturers even make crazy, geometric-looking three blade cutters. Another type of blade cutter is cigar scissors, very much like they sound, using two sharp blades a la handheld scissors.
Non-blade cigar cutters are in the form of a punch. A cigar punch is a small circular blade used for poking a perfect hole in the head of your cigar. This was the preferred method of cutting for Big Ronnie for a long time. I liked the consistency, and the relatively small amount of loose tobacco at the end of a cigar after a cut (compared to blade cutters). I also enjoyed the ability to pick the proper size punch for the cigar, as punch cutters come in various sizes. Punch cutters are not perfect for all smokes, as you cannot simply trim the head of a small ring gauge cigar, or punch cut a torpedo (pointy head) type cigar. Scissor and blade type cutters do not have this limitation, and can cut/prepare any cigar for lighting.
As for the cutter that I carry with me: It is a XikarHavana Collection (in blue) with hand inlaid cuban cigar bands by artists in Paris, France.
Necessary? No. A conversation piece, and one that gets admired every time I hand it to someone? Yes. Badass? Absolutely.
All Xikar cutters come with a lifetime warranty. This means that when (not if) your cutter gets dull, send it to Xikar, no receipt necessary and they will clean it, sharpen it, and ship it back to you with a free inexpensive & durable leather case. I’ve sent my Xikar cutter in for maintenance several times without issues. Xikar’s warranty, combined with their crazy materials (e.g. Carbon Fiber, Mammoth Ivory, Pave’ Diamonds, Rare Woods, etc.) make them my favorite and most recommended accessory company. I never hear complaints about their products, and they are continuing to expand their line quickly.
While nice, my Xikar won’t break the bank, and there are many similar styles from Xikar, starting at about $30. My Blue Xikar Habana cutter cost $200, before the cost of the case. No regular case, mind you either. The $75 stingray skin leather case is a conversation piece in itself.
What about those funny wood sticks I see people light cigars with?
Those sicks are called spills, and they are typically made of Spanish Cedar, the same type of wood that most quality humidors are made out of. They theory is that by keeping a liquid gas flame (not butane) away from your cigar, you won’t impart any taste from the gas. I don’t necessarily buy this theory (though I would never light a cigar with a Zippo for the same reason), though I do think the practice is sound. It is very cool lighting your cigar with spills once you get the hang of it. Controlling the size of the flame is key, don’t let it get too big or the wood will burn quickly and you will have to use more than one. Cedar spills are sexy, just make sure you know how to maintain the sexiness during the light. This comes with practice, and I am not perfect. I’ve accidentally burnt my moustache once or twice. If you want top of the line cedar spills, head over to Commonwealth Cedar Spills – they’ll even engrave your name on their beautiful spill boxes.
There you have it, my smokies, Big Ronnie’s overview on how and why to purchase a new cigar accessories.