Looking to get into cigar smoking but don’t know the proper etiquette? Maybe you want to start frequenting your local cigar bar or lounge but feel intimidated by the more veteran aficianados. Well, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find a helpful list of 12 cigar smoking do’s and dont’s that will help you get up to speed with fellow cigar lovers.
Do cut your cigar correctly
One of the most crucial things to know about cigar smoking is how to cut one. The cut
can make or break a cigar’s smokeability. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to learn. All you need is a great cigar cutter. The most common type is a guillotine-style straight cutter, which provides more airflow and an easy draw. You should cut just above the shoulder of the cigar where the head begins to taper. You don’t want to cut too deep as you risk getting loose tobacco in your mouth or the wrapper leaf may unravel while you’re smoking. Once you learn what kind of draw you prefer, you can choose between a V-cutter, which provides a tighter draw, or the aforementioned straight cutter.
Do warm the foot of the cigar
It is highly recommended that you slightly warm the foot of your cigar before you
start puffing. This is done by gently rolling the foot between your fingers, allowing your body heat to warm it up.
Do properly light your cigar
The trick to properly lighting up a cigar is to toast but not over-roast it. Matches or
butane lighters both work, but the key is to hold the flame an inch or two away
from the foot of the cigar. If you burn it too much the cigar won’t burn evenly and
your first puffs will taste like charred tobacco or butane fuel. Patience is the
operative word. You should rotate the cigar so that every part of the foot is
equally exposed. Then, flip the cigar around and gently blow on the lit end. A properly lit cigar will have a firm, even ash as you smoke. The ash should stay
intact for a few inches and burn straight.
Do take your time
Smoking a cigar should never be a rushed experience––you should be working
at about a puff per minute rate. It is an experience to be savored, a relaxing
pastime, not a task to be rushed through. And don’t worry, putting your cigar
down for a minute is not long enough for it to self-extinguish. (And, in case you’re wondering, you should wait about fifteen to twenty minutes between cigars––any shorter and it might look a little obsessive.)
Do ash your cigar gently
Your lap isn’t an ashtray, and it shouldn’t be treated like one. Use a glass or
ceramic cigar ashtray, ideally one with cigar rests (or stirrups, as they’re
sometimes called). Do not ash into the tray too hard––a cigar is not a cigarette,
and flicking it will not do. Ashing too vigorously can cause the cigar’s wrapper to crack, unravel, or leave you with an uneven burn. The secret is to gently twist the ash off into the ashtray. It is rude, unseemly behavior to leave ash everywhere, so make sure
your ash doesn’t get too long as you risk having it fall everywhere.
Do let your cigar go out on its own
No need to grind your cigar into the ashtray––it will go out on its own. Cigars
should be smoked until there is about ¼ left. They are not designed to be
smoked to the foot, as the smoke becomes harsher and less pleasant toward the
end. When you’re finished, just place the cigar in the ashray and allow it to die out
in a dignified manner. When you grind it down, the cigar tends to emit a stale
odor that can linger for sometime. But always make sure that the cigar is fully
extinguished before leaving the room.
Don’t hold your cigar like a cigarette
How you hold your cigar is a classic tell as to whether you’re a seasoned smoker
or a mere rookie. A cigar should be held between index finger and thumb, not
between the index finger and middle finger like a cigarette. These are completely
different tobacco products, and they should be treated as such.
Don’t ask for a light
You should always light your own cigar. This is considered crucial to cigar
smoker’s etiquette. You may borrow a lighter or matches, but you should always be the one to light yourself. Lighting a cigar is a personal experience and one of the most pleasurable aspects of cigar smoking. Never dilute that experience by leaning on another.
Don’t relight a nearly finished cigar
If your cigar goes out after it has been half-smoked, you should be finished with
Relighting a cigar tends to diminish its quality. The smoke also harshens as the cigar gets closer to the foot, so unless you want a bitter, acrid smoking experience it’s simply best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Don’t dip a cigar in port, brandy, or whiskey
You’re not Winston Churchill, so don’t smoke a cigar like him. Cigar makers
worked hard to perfect their flavor profiles, it’s in poor taste to throw all that hard work out the door by dipping their creation in alcohol. Not only will it distort the flavor but it can also plug the cigar’s draw, which potentially makes it unsmokable. Have a glass of bourbon on the side of, not in, your cigar. If you can’t tolerate how a cigar tastes naturally, you’re probably not going to be a routine cigar smoker, and that’s okay.
Don’t smoke and work
Last but not least: do not smoke and work. Cigar smoking is a pleasure hobby, a luxuriant pastime, and should not be treated as anything but. Cigars should not be used as aids in stressful situations, but as a way to unwind thereafter. They should be enjoyed in a relaxed state of mind. So, pour yourself a drink, sit back, light up, and relax a bit.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the Do’s and Dont’s of cigar smoking. Whether you’re brand new to the cigar smoking club or a seasoned aficianado, it doesn’t hurt to refresh yourself on some of the rules of the game. At the very least, these guidelines will help you enjoy your cigar time with friends all the more.