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Having heard of the launching of a new cigar company and wanting to meet someone since I came to the unrenowned realization that my boyfriend was not a struggling artist, he was just struggling, I decided to go.
I looked pretty good – not my best, not my worst. My hair was up, my outfit was bland, and I practically drenched myself in Marc Jacobs Daisy. When I walked in, I was in awe.
"Oh my God, I should have showered."-
"These guys look like...gentlemen."-
"Wow, everyone’s starring at me."-
I was the only woman there, with the exception of a woman in a tee shirt two sizes too small and a muffin top hanging over her ripped,unwashed jeans.
I waltzed in as nonchalantly as I possibly could (given that I knew nothing about cigars, thirty men were staring at me, and I felt like my heart was going to fall out of my Spanx).
I must have looked lost, because a silver fox in a tailored suit flagged me over, and, with great relief, I glided into an open seat next to him. He was so cute.
We engaged in conversation about his boat, his business, his sick grandmother and even his love for his golden retriever.
At around the time he said, “I’d love to take you on my horse this weekend,” did Cupid bite me so hard all I could see and hear were red hearts and wedding bells.
I faded back in to him when he said, “Oh my God, you haven’t even tried a cigar yet!Here.” The preceding events seemed to occur in slow motion. I had never smoked a cigar before, but how hard could it be?
I took the cigar to my lips and tried to look as effortless as I possibly could. As soon as I inhaled the cigar, the nausea hit.
Miss Marie asked her class of 7th graders, “What is the best way to prevent teenage pregnancy?”
Middle school class-clown TJ exclaimed, “Wear Crocs and a fedora,” and everyone burst into fits of laughter.
Although seventh grade anatomy is fun for almost everyone involved, it carries a potent air of humiliation. Studying the anatomy of a cigar will be different. It won’t be as fun as sex ed nor as humiliating – don’t worry: I won’t make you go through that again, but lets start with the basics.
Cigars are made up of three parts. The outermost part is called the wrapper, then the binder then the filler. Each part is made of tobacco leaves, but they are all chosen to have that role in the cigar for a specific reason.
Picture the vegetable wrap that you had for lunch when dieting for your wedding, prom or just an everyday weight battle.
The tortilla of your vegetable wrap is just like the wrapper of your cigar. It holds all the lettuce, veggies and other foods you are eating in place of the cheesy bread you really want securely inside.
The tortilla has a major role in determining the entire wrap’s character and flavor. Just like the color and flavor of the tortilla are used to describe and differ this wrap from the others, so does the wrapper of the cigar. Is it sun-dried tomato? Is it honey whole wheat? Is it green – green means healthy, right? The options are endless.
Additionally, whoever’s crafting your vegetable wrap has the same mindset as the person rolling your cigar: Make the outermost layer as pretty and blemish-free as possible. Basically, cigar rollers pick the outer layer based on what tobacco leaf is the prettiest.
Here’s a breakdown of the go-to flavors of wrappers for cigars:
They actually come from Connecticut, so besides that gorgeous freckle-free guy with the milky skin from your college econ class, good things come out of the Northeast.
These are grown in the U.S. and Ecuador (sometimes). These wrappers must be flawless, because they are going to be on display (just like the econ cutie was), so they are grown under giant sheets of cheesecloth, which are basically just loose-woven gauze-like cotton cloth a.k.a. what your favorite sweater will look like in five years.
Being grown under your future sweater will prevent the leaves from being exposed to too much sunlight, which allows them to have a milder and extremely smooth flavor, which is also due to their dry taste and low sugar content. Remember: Econ cutie is all dry business, no sweet talk.
The Maduro Wrapper’s literal translation from Spanish is “mature.” These mature cigar leaves are darker, wiser and a little older than Connecticut wrappers: Their creation can take years to accomplish, and the longer they are given to mature, the stronger, deeper and more complex they become.
Basically, Maduro wrappers are the older, Spanish boyfriend you wish you had: Picture Javier Bardem ten years ago.
After being tenderly raised, the leaves are aged to bring out the natural sugars and distinct caramel sweetness, with leaves a little thicker than most.
Maduro vs. Connecticut: Can’t decide which man – I mean wrapper— you like better?
Double Wrap is the best of both worlds: It features both the Connecticut and the Maduro, so you get the serious, unharmed Connecticut wrapper and the sweet, rich, full Maduro – all in one perfect cigar hybrid wrapper.
These wrappers come from Cameroon, Africa, hence their obvious name. They’re more distinct than the others for having a peppery taste and a “toothy” grain. They’re versatile, so they can wrap around both mild and strong cigars. Now, if this was a man – I don’t know if I would date him, but I definitely smoke him!
Grown from Cuban seeds, they are exactly how you’d imagine a strong, spicy Cuban guy who you’d love to love. He gives you a major nicotine rush and kind of tastes like espresso. He’s lighter than the Maduro and has a little bit of an oily shine, but it just looks like shimmer to you.
If a Maduro wrapper and a Connecticut wrapper had a baby together, a Natural wrapper, also known as English Market Selection or “EMS,” would be born. EMS is the plainest of the wrappers and even has tastes resembling white bread.
Back to our vegetable wrap lunch, the tomato paste, mayonnaise or hummus that holds all of the cucumbers, peppers and lettuce inside the tortilla resembles the cigar binder. The binder holds the filler (the tobacco leaves inside the wrapper) together. Binders resemble the flavor of their tortilla exterior, but are the thicker, less pretty part of the cigar; hence why they are banished to the inside. Although they play an important role in keeping all the goods inside, they are the least flavorful part of the cigar.
Just like your low-calorie wrap, the inside of a cigar is made up of dry leaves.
Fillers are wrapped-up bunches of tobacco leaves that make up a unique blend. The blend ultimately determines the entire cigar’s taste – although the tortilla and tomato paste matter, the real determinant of the flavor is what’s inside.
The stuff inside, referred to as the blend, can be made up of short-filler and/or long-filler. Basically, short-fillers are chopped up tobacco leaves, which are rolled into cigars, and long-fillers are whole tobacco leaves that run the length of the entire cigar.
Long-fillers are of a higher quality, because you know exactly what you’re getting. Have you ever cracked open your wrap and not recognized the stuff inside? That’s what the difference is between long and short fillers: It’s cracking open that wrap and either seeing a full piece of eggplant or a bunch of chopped up stuff that once resembled a vegetable.
As the rom-comclassic “A Cinderella Story” with Hilary Duff taught us so eloquently, “Don’t let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.”Because then you could totally miss out on a make out session withChad Michael Murray – or another life changing experience.
Well, in many cases, the fear of striking out is so colossal that the sheer thought of stepping up to that plate gives us anxiety and makes us bite off the overpriced manicure we got last week.
And, as we all know, at least half of the courage it takes to try a new activity is mental. Whether it’s stepping into a new workout class, a new job, or a new social setting, the act of physically stepping into the room is more daunting than actually doing it.
However, if you know exactly what to do when you get into that room: how to do the first yoga pose, whose hand to shake, or just the fact that you feel good in your outfit, it can go a long way.
This only applies if you are smoking in front of an audience. If you are smoking for your own source of personal relaxation, which I highly recommend, you can look however silly or balleryou want.
(Full disclosure: When in the privacy of my own backyard, I smoke cigars in my underwear with an oversized bag of yogurt pretzels by my side. Moving on.)
The first step in gaining confidence is preparation.
1) Cutting It
Before you can light it, you have to cut off part of the cigar – but just the very tip. You basically have to circumcise your cigar before you can light it, and just like circumcision, precision is very important.
A hand-made cigar is held together at the top by the cap. Below the cap is the cigar shoulder. When cutting the cigar, you want to aim above the shoulder. If you accidently cut below the shoulder, there becomes risk of unraveling the wrapper of the cigar, because nothing is holding it together anymore, and this would be a major fail.
Picture your favorite underwear and the band that sits atop it, holding it snug to your waist. The top band is the cap, and the place where the two fabrics meet is the shoulder. You want to make damn sure to cut above the shoulder, because you don’t want your panties to unravel. Get the picture?
Find the point on the cigar where the cap comes over the shoulder, and make sure to cut above that line.
To cut your cigar properly, you must use a pair of cigar cutters. To do so, grab your cigar, and hold it horizontally. Then, bring your cigar cutter a few millimeters down the cigar – above the shoulder – and pull down on the cutters to make a nice, clean cut. Of course, there are different types of cutters to choose from when doing the deed.
Note: If you are smoking a cigar that has a more torpedo-like shape, you want to do the same thing as with a traditionally-shaped cigar, but cut off a quarter of an inch off the tip of the cigar instead of just minding the shoulder.
Types of Cutters:
After you make the cut, brush off any loose pieces of tobacco that may have been left behind when you made the cut, and you’re ready for step two!
Grasping it is pretty simple: Whatever you do, don’t hold it like a cigarette. This will be a telltale sign that you are a newb. Just rest the cigar on your middle finger and then wrap your index finger around it, and there you go!
Then comes the question of removing the band. It takes you back to losing your virginity… Should I take off my shirt? Is he taking off his shirt? Will my shirt get in the way if I leave it on? Help!
Just like the shirt-on, shirt-off dilemma, it’s up to you. Whether to take off the band or not is a matter of personal preference. However, if you do want to take it off, smoke it a little bit first. This will allow the adhesive holding the band together to loosen slightly, making it easier to remove.3) Lighting It
There are several options in sparking it up.
Whichever method makes you most comfortable will allow you to be most confident in a cigar smoking session, so choose your method based on comfort.
Additionally, before you light it, you should moisten the end of the cigar. You do this, because if your lips are dry, it can stick your mouth and unravel the wrapper, resulting in a big ol’ mess. To moisten it, put the uncut end in your mouth lightly and rotate it slightly, quickly and naturally.
Now, you are ready to spark up.
Make sure to rotate your cigar while you are lighting it in order to heat it up. Do this until you start seeing a red glow. When the cigar starts to ignite, then you can stop lighting it and bring it in your mouth. After that, bring the lighter or match to the cigar again, while it’s in your mouth, rotating the cigar. Then, puff lightly. BUT DO NOT INHALE. I REPEAT: DO NOT INHALE.
Remember when I threw up on that hot guy’s shoes? You do not want to be that girl, so DO NOTinhale.
Once it’s lit, take the cigar out of your mouth and make sure it is lit evenly. Be forewarned, when you are lighting it, it is going to flame; however, it will die out quickly, making you one step closer to smoking.
As I am reminding you again, the most important thing to remember is to not inhale the cigar. This is what will make you nauseous, sick and coughing all night. Ever smoked hookah? Smoke your cigar exactly like that by taking slow, leisurely puffs – and making damn sure not to inhale: Reminiscent of prom night, you’ll be full of regret.
Additionally, take your time when puffing the cigar. Do not rush it: It should take about a full episode of Orange Is the New Black to smoke your cigar properly (a.k.a. give or take 55 minutes).
Unlike what every rapper’s telling you to do, don’t shake your ash: It’s bad form. The better the cigar is made, the longer the ash, so you don’t want to shake the cigar prematurely to make the ash fall, like with a cigarette. But if the ash buildup is too long, you gotta shake ya ash. If you leave it sitting too long, the light’s going to go out.
If it does go out, remain calm. You just lean the cigar on the end of the ashtray and rotate it steadily, allowing the ash to fall off in one big clump. Once you’ve removedthe ash from your cigar, just relight it exactly how you did before, and you’re back in business.
Continue puffing the cigar until there are about two inches left: This is when it will start to leave an aftertaste in your mouth, a telltale sign your smoking session is over.
Now you need to put it out. You don’t put it out like a cigarette: Just let it go out by itself by sitting it inside the ashtray and allowing it to do its thing.
As in most situations, size does matter – but only depending on what you’re looking for. The size and shape of the cigar, the combo called vitola, determine the category it’s placed in.
First is its girth: The ring gauge is described in sixty-fourths of an inch.
Second is its length: This distance is measured in inches.
In effort not to put you to sleep, I’ll explain cigar sizes by which kind of man would smoke which size cigar.
The man who would smoke this 4.5-5.5 inch cigar with a ring size of 48-54 is the kind of man you would meet on vacation in Vancouver. His apartment is entirely modernized, and his hair is always gelled to perfection. He’s busy, so he doesn’t have time to sit around and smoke this cigar for three hours, because he always has somewhere to be, so it’s a quick smoke. He resembles his cigar having a shorter and wider stature. His cigar also provides more of a kick than would a slender, taller cigar.
The man who would smoke this 5.5 inch cigar with a ring size up to 60 is the thicker, richer older brother of the regular Robusto. He’s the kind of man who has more time on his hands than his thinner younger brother. He is more matured and can sit and smoke with you for hours. However, prior to his early retirement, he was accustomed to a more fast-paced life, so he can make you can make it through this cigar quickly too, if you’d like.
The man who would smoke this 5 ⅝ to 6 ⅝ inch with a ring size of 50-52 cigar is the older, taller cousin of the Robusto brothers. He’s the one who graduated top in his class from Princeton and always had the blond, perfect girlfriend who has worn J. Crew and Ann Taylor since she turned 16. He is classy, put-together and always appropriate. He is similar to his cousins in taste and manner but is much lengthier.
The man who would smoke this 6 ⅛ incher with a ring size of 52 is a powerhouse – as the name of his cigar of choice would entail. He works out constantly, and his diet consists of protein, more protein and beer.
The man who would smoke this 6 ¾ to 7 ¾ inch cigar with a ring size of 46-52 lives his life as the cigar aficionado Winston Churchill would, as this was his favorite size cigar. This man is smooth, lengthy and cool – just like his cigar choice.
The man who would smoke this 5 to 7 ½ inch cigar with a ring size of 34-38 likes his woman thin, tall and gorgeous. He’s a model enthusiast as well as a cigar man. He chose this cigar based on the long, thin elegance that he seeks in women. He’s a perfectionist who won’t settle for any less, and the only thing that lives up to his impossible standards are his beloved Panatelas. Out of sheer joy to find something so perfect, he smokes it hot and strong.
Somewhere in the year 1492 when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he gained credit for introducing tobacco to Europe. Three members of the Columbus Crew are rumored to have spotted tobacco in present-day Dominican Republic, and when the men settled in Cuba, they found this game-changing leaf again.
The indigenous people of the Caribbean smoked the dried tobacco leaves rolled up in plantain or palm leaves, and in seeing their pleasure in doing so, the Spanish and European sailors adopted their smoking hobby. Eventually, as most trends do, the primitive cigar smoking grew more popular and reached the Conquistadors, Spain, Portugal and then most notably, Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal, lending his last name to nicotine.
Eventually, the ultimate trendsetter, aristocrat, soldier and spy Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco to Britain, deeming him as the man who turned smoking tobacco into popular culture. British politicians should give him a special thanks, because he completed their looks by the addition of a tobacco-filled pipe hanging out of their mouths at all times.
By the mid-16th century, tobacco was being grown commercially in America. In true fashion, some people thought tobacco was the answer to all their problems, while others thought it was the devil, leading to its denouncing by King Philip II of Spain and King James I of England.
And that was the end of it. Because being shut down by the government ends all new products. Just like prohibition and alcohol, right? Wrong.
In 1592, a Spanish ship brought my Weight Watchers goal weight of 110 pounds in tobacco seed to the Philippines. The Spanish crewmen had a much easier time raking in these seeds than I am having losing this weight…. Moving on.
My goal weight in tobacco seed was distributed among the Roman Catholic missionaries, where they found the perfect places for growing tobacco in the Philippine soil.
Fast forward to the 19th century, and cigar smoking was totally entrenched in pop culture, while cigarettes were like Crocs today: a rare (but fashionably disappointing) siting.
Cigar business had become an important industry; however, this was before mechanized manufacturing, so cigar factories were bangin’ with workers making hand-crafted cigars.
In 1869, well-known Spanish manufacturer Vincente Martinez Ybor relocated his operations from his cigar manufacturing center of Havana, Cuba to sunny Key West, Florida, home of Ernest Hemingway, conch fritters and the famous Duval Street, in effort to escape the turmoil of the Ten Years’ War. Before Duval Street and conch fritters, the cigar manufacturing business boomed in Key West.
In 1885, Ybor moved his important manufacturing center again to the now Land of the Grandparents: Tampa, Florida, buying the neighboring land and building the world’s largest cigar factory at the time, modestly named after himself asYbor City.
In a traditional Montague-Capulet feud, arch nemesis Ignacio Haya constructed his own neighboring factory that same year. The saying, “If you build it, they will come,” rings extremely true in this case as thousands of cigar manufacturers from Key West, Cuba and New York hopped on the bandwagon and built cigar manufacturing centers in Tampa, thus producing hundreds of millions of cigars annually.Output peaked in 1929 when the cigar rollers of Ybor City and West Tampa crafted over 500,000,000 cigars, deeming the town the "Cigar Capital of the World".
The Big Apple was also getting a piece of the action by rolling cigars out of their own homes. In 1883, a reported 127 New York residences were rolling stogies on their kitchen tables. Although NY cigar manufacturingwas banned once, the ruling was named unconstitutional in less than four months. By the time 1905 rolled around, there were about 80,000 cigar-making operations in the States. Most of them were tiny, family-run businesses where the cigars were rolled and sold on the spot.
Although it is now most common for cigars to be made by a machine, some businesses stay true to their roots, by still rolling them by hand.
Among these hand-rollers are majority of people in Central America and Cuba, as well as some sizable cities in the U.S. These rare, premium cigars, known as totalmente a mano (totally by hand), are an entirely different ballgame than those sold in packs at drug stores and gas stations. It’s basically like buying a purse at Neiman Marcus vs. Target.
So, if you want to bring a cigar to a cigar lounge, don’t embarrass yourself by bringing a Target bag to a Prada party.
If you are into muscle men who live strictly on a diet of burgers and steak, run from a man who smokes a flavored cigar. This is not the man you want; however, it may be the one you need. A man who smokes a cherry jubilee cigar is one that will value your problems with your boss, feed on your every word about the fight with your sister, and most notably, he will actually see a difference in the black dress you wore last night to the one you wore two weeks ago: He is more astute and observant than the man who opts for an unflavored cigar.
This is not to say he is lesser than the man who likes his cigars bland, but he is perhaps the most open-minded. He is the man who doesn’t just order plain pancakes but banana pancakes. He is the man who doesn’t just recognize your best friends but knows them by name. He is the man you wish your man could be,just kidding. #Oldspice
You can really tell a lot by the flavored versus unflavored cigar smoker.
I asked two men in their mid-20s to answer some personal questions. One opts for flavored cigars, while the other for unflavored. They earn the same income, grew up in the same neighborhood, both have the same education – and most importantly, they both are gentlemen who love cigars and women.
Take in the personality differences between the two men to see whether you would a) want to date a man who smoked flavored/unflavored and b) more importantly, want to smoke unflavored or flavored yourself!
Samuelopts for unflavored cigars, while Johnny opts for flavored ones.
“Ehh…I don’t know. I would take her to a movie first, but I would let her choose. We definitely wouldn’t see Fault in our Stars. We’d probably get dinner before somewhere near the theatre but also nice. I’d definitely have to pick up the check – somewhere good though but not trendy. I can’t handle the trendy.”
“We’d go to a restaurant on the beach for drinks and dinner. I’d absolutely pick her up. We would eat and drink and then go walking on the beach. I would make sure she’s comfortable, but I would also make sure to ask questions that put her out of her comfort zone.” (I thought this was odd so I asked why.) “I’d want to see if she’s funny, clever and willing to have a good time. I like a girl who is easygoing.”
“It’s really messy, honestly. It has a good space, but it’s not too big. There’s a decent living space, place to eat, place to relax and a bedroom. The bedroom’s clean, the kitchen’s cleaner, and the relaxing space is a lot messier. I have a lot of stuff I’ve had since college, like this Roman pillar I bought from a thrift store. I can’t give that thing up.”
NOTE: It is safe to assume that a “relaxing space” is a living room.
“It’s pretty modern – a little messy but not embarrassingly messy. The reason being that it can’t be so clean that you can’t feel welcome to kick your feet up: It’s welcoming. There are big windows and lots of light, a little bar in the corner, fireplace, well-stocked kitchen, two dogs (both big), high ceilings, a nice shower with like three showerheads, and a big comfy bed. The shower’s something I put money into.”
“Stability—as in a job. I don’t want a gold digger. She’s got to have personality – humor’s major. I’m not looking to settle down yet but something semi-serious. If I enjoy their companyand don’t get sick of them, that’s the biggest thing for me. No ethnic preference or hair color matters to me.”
NOTE: When asked what semi-serious was, the explanation confused me even further. If you know what this means, email me.
“She must be clever, willing to have a good time, easygoing, attractive and, you know, all the clichés: funny, smart, can keep a conversation, thoughtful, passionate and dedicated to something. A good dancer would be nice too.”
“Short shorts. I hate it when the pocket sticks out of the shorts though.Shorts, sandals and a tank top. Either that or yoga pants—something athletic. It’s mostly about the hair though. They have to have long hair.”
“I like tank tops. I like the L.A. look – like the cardigan. I don’t like a lot of makeup, long hair and a sundress.”
NOTE: Both men became squeamish when I asked this question.Samuel:
“I talk to her occasionally – not as much as I would like. I’m not a mama’s boy. We fight a lot, but in the end, I do love her of course.”
“We are close, but you know, I don’t tell her literally everything. I tell her most things, but some things you don’t tell your mom. I love hanging out with her. I always go to her for advice, share funny stories. I call her when I just feel like talking to somebody.”
It should be known that I pretty much fell in love with Johnny after this interview. It should also be known that by no way are these two representative of the entire cigar-smoking male world. However, their answers incongruence does mean something.
It seem as if these two are polar opposites of each other, which comes down to their choice in cigar. Samuel answered each question without care for detail, while Jonny planned everything from describing the big windows that allow infinite light into his apartment to the location of the restaurant he would take you on a first date.
I’m not saying that one man is better than the other, because all men are great, just like all women are great: It all depends on what you value in a person and what you are looking for in your significant other.
You can tell more than you think about a man just by asking if he would consider smoking a flavored cigar or if the detail never even crossed his mind.
Just like men who smoke flavored cigars have a certain flare to them, ask yourself the same question when opting towards a flavored or unflavored cigar. Do you plan your outfits down to your jewelry, or do you throw on a tee shirt and hope for the best?
Choose the cigar that fits your lifestyle: It’s your hobby, you can do what you want.
Just like all good things, they must be properly taken care of. Whether it be a perm, a boyfriend, a job, you need to take tender care of all the good things in your awesome life.
Because cigars are made in areas with high humidity and temperatures, they need to be stored in very particular climates. There are three basic options when storing your cigar: cigar humidor, cigar tube, or a good ol’ fashioned Ziploc bag (that’s more my style).
A humidor is basically just any kind of box or room with constant humidity that serves as the perfect home for your cigar. They also use a machine called a hygrometer that keeps track of the humidity levels. (An ideal level for optimal cigar life is 70% humidity at 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit).
A humidor is the best place to store a cigar, but it can be a little expensive, and I can think of more fun ways to spend $50.
If a humidor is too pricey, a cigar tube is a happy alternative. In its simplest form, it’s just a tube that keeps your cigar sealed from air – thus controlling the climate perfectly!
It’s not the fanciest option, but it gets the job done just fine! If you place your cigar in a plastic bag, just keep an eye on it. If it gets too dry, put a little piece of damp paper towel at the entrance of the bag and your cigar will be in shipshape.
If you look after a cigar well, it should still be good after 15 years, although it will lose some of its intensity of flavor. Some cigar enthusiasts say that cigars even taste better after 5 –10 years, but as busy ladies, we don’t have that kind of time to wait around. It’ll taste just fine the day you buy it!
Smoking a cigar isn’t just an activity: It’s an art form. The ritual of lighting up is a generational and fraternal bond, which us girls are rarely invited to join, mainly because of the misconception that we can’t hang, which is a stereotype I reinforced before I learned the ropes.
Because smoking is such a relaxing activity, this is not one where it’s adorable to have to be tended to: It’s just annoying. In the cigar lounge, it’s every person for themself.
To wrap it up, think of your favorite panties when cutting the cigars, your least favorite vegetable wrap when analyzing the anatomy of the cigar, and of course the upkeep when storing your cigar!
And if I did not stress this enough before, remember to never inhale. Smoke it like hookah and enjoy like it’s chocolate.
Now you know the basics of cigars, so go on and smoke as sensually as the girl with the gut, whilst wearing a shirt that actually fits you.
But if you want to wear a crop top, do you girl.
P.S. NEVER INHALE.