Smoking Cigars for Beginners
This is what I call the Ambrose Method for smoking a cigar. You can take it or leave it, but this is how I do it.
It is very simple, but you need to collect a few things first.
1) A Cigar. Any cigar will do, so long as it was hand rolled. The more you smoke, the more you'll discover what you like, don't like, and what cigars everyone should stay away from. If you'd like to know, my personal favorite is the CAO Brazilia.
2) Next, you need a circumcizer. Remember, even Freud said that "A Cigar is just a cigar." Anyway, the common term for the clipper is "Cigar Cutter." I prefer the Guillotine or "straight cut" models. Usually the tobacconist will just give you one when you purchase from his shop for the first time. If not,you need to make sure the cigar cutter you've purchased has a hole large enough for the gauge of cigars you will be smoking. Shouldn't be a problem, but you never know.
3) Now, you need some wood matches. You can use a lighter, but it does provide a very distinctive taste. You'll know what I mean after you've smoked a few lit with wood matches, and then a few lit by a lighter.
4) A drink! You must have a drink. Whether it be Scotch (single malt!) or Lemonade, you need a drink. Do not smoke without it. (Wine works well too).
5) A good book, a nice view, or some buddies with cigars of their own.
Pick a Cigar
Picking your first cigar isn't a big deal. You haven't built up your tastes yet, and you really don't know what you're looking for. I'd recommend an "English Market Select" wrapper. Those are the lighter colored cigars, and they tend to be easier on the pallet of a new cigar smoker.
If you're daring, however, go for the dark brown almost black, known as a Maduro, or straight up black, known as an Oscuro wrapper. They'll knock you flat like two triple martinis when you're a done with them.
A good size cigar is the Robusto. It is shorter than most other cigars, doesn't look like a winsy cigarillo, isn't as tedious as a Churchill, and it takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to smoke.
On the 8th day
First things first, put your drink down and get ready to light.
You need to cut off the closed end of your Cigar. This is simple. Look at the closed end. You should spot a difference in coloration between the cap and the rest of the Cigar. There will be a distinct line between the cap and the cigar. Take your cigar cutter and cut off the cap before the line. Meaning, don't cut of the whole cap, or more than the cap. Just up to right before that line.
At this point brush off any loose particles of tobacco, and take a couple practice tugs. If for whatever reason you don't like the pull (the ease you can breathe in through the cigar), I'd cut off a little more from the end to see if it improves. Sometimes it does, sometimes not.
You're not really setting your cigar on fire. If your cigar catches on fire you're lighting it wrong and you just need to take a knee and punch yourself in the face. Good job.
Just hold the match far enough away from the cigar that the flame isn't touching, and then begin tugging smoothly on the end you cut the cap from. You should be pulling the flame toward the cigar, and lighting up your tobacco. Slowly rotate the cigar as you do this to get a good all around light.
When you tug on the cigar to light it, be sure you are sucking in air like you'd suck in a drink from a straw, not like you'd inhale a cigarette. The goal is to get mouth cancer, not lung cancer.
Once your Cigar is lit, continue to draw on it as frequently as you'd like! You can wait anywhere from a few seconds to a couple minutes in between tugs. Be sure that you draw the smoke into your mouth and not your lungs. Let it hang there for a second, and roll it around if the smoke is particularly flavorful, and the exspire.
If you're reading a book, after the cigar is lit, pick it up! Every now and then take a sip from your drink.
If you're with friends, wait till everyone's lit before starting a conversation. Smoking a cigar is a great way to encourage contemplative conversation. After all, it is a relaxing activity that encourages two way conversation. If you're going to smoke, you've got to stop talking, which allows the other participants to join in! I've talked about everything from Communion to motorcycle gangs while smoking a cigar.
Don't be afraid to quit your cigar whenever you want! Some smoke to the last millimeter, others prefer putting it out when there's still a good inch of tobacco remaining. It's all personal preference, so enjoy!
(Photo courtesy of Blue Note Cigars, an excellent blog possessing copious amounts of Cigar reviews.)
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