People who smoke cigars are tough and not to be messed with.
At least thats the impression I had from the movies. I dont remember seeing a cigar being smoked in real life, because my social circles do not include mobsters who glower from behind backroom poker tables or spies who breakfast on balconies overlooking famous European cities. If there were categories of cigar smokes besides these, I didnt know about them.
What I did know is that I wanted to see if smoking a cigar would make me feel as cool as it makes these people look. So a few years ago, I gave it a try.
The answer turned out to be no.
The two things you need in order to look cool smoking a cigar is a cigar and a friend. The cigar is for smoking, and the friend is for noticing and appreciating your coolness. The cigar was not hard to find, though it was difficult to locate my pride after the bemused look I received when requesting help at the cigar counter. I would have to work on looking cool at the cigar store another day.
The friend was harder to find. It turns out most people scrunch up their face and say, Ew. Why? when you invite them to smoke a cigar with you. But I am lucky to have a friend who shares an appreciation of ridiculous shenanigans, and so we made a date to smoke a cigar and sip moonshine (we figured we should check that off the list too, while we were at it) in her husbands shop one cold night in February.
Had we sold tickets, it wouldve been a great comedy show. We had the cigar and a cigar cutter, but we didnt know what end to cut. Or how much. Or why. We figured out the answer to the first question at least, you cut the end you put in your mouth. We saved the other questions for another day. Lighting the cigar was another challenge, probably not helped by the fact that neither of us are very experienced in smoking techniques.
We eventually figured it out (after a few Is it going now?s, Am I doing it right?s and Wait, is it supposed to be like this?s) and passed the cigar back and forth. We tried our best to look like experienced cigar smokers. Thats hard to do when youre doubled over laughing or grimacing at the sensation of acrid smoke in your mouth.
In other words, it was a total blast and we couldnt wait to do it again.
Weve smoked a couple of cigars since. The truth is, we still have no idea what were doing, we just have fun doing it from time to time, even if we have appeared neither tough, nor cool, like the people in the movies at any moment in the process.
Heres what wed recommend to new cigar smokers:
- Lemon juice helps cut the cigar aftertaste. Homemade mints have too. Weve also eaten apples while smoking, which is said to cleanse the palette. Who knows if it worked, but they were good apples.
- Spend a little money. The cheapest cigar we tried was awful and left a biting sensation in our mouths. Weve decided to only smoke those when we are doing something super shady.
- Flavored cigars are not bad. We tried a vanilla one once that surprised us with its sweet and strong flavoring.
- A recent smoke was a Catch 22 in a dark maduro wrapper. Some maduros have a stronger flavor, but this one was smooth and pleasant. It was a bit more spendy, but it convinced me to stick with a mid-range price option the next time I select a cigar.