I'm a Cigar Virgin! Help
April 21, 2009 3:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I prepare good cigars for maximum delight?

I purchased some cigars in New Orleans last week and have never smoked one before. I know that you do some preparation with them before smoking (poking hole in the tip?) What do I need to know to prep and smoke these for maximum delight?
posted by goalyeehah to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's more than cutting, it's also how you light it- and what you light it with (a zippo will make your expensive nice cigar taste like kerosene).

This guide seems reasonably accurate.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:49 PM on April 21, 2009

There are a variety of ways to cut a cigar. I don't recommend you bite it off or poke a hole in the tip; you won't get good draw that way, and the draw is important for both the taste of the cigar and even burning of the cigar. You want to evenly burn the cigar all the way down to avoid having to relight although some relighting is often a necessity. The cut of a cigar can determine the taste and accumulated tar at the head, so it's important you try a few different types.

You want to rotate the cigar's edge around a flame, toasting just the edge of the wrapper, not the tobacco in the center. Think of a very thin black ring around the end of your cigar (foot) but try to avoid lighting the middle of the cigar just yet. This is called toasting.

After the cigar is toasted - just a couple of seconds (the rationale is to have the wrapper burn just behind the main body of tobacco, because if the wrapper burns after the main body or unevenly the cigar won't burn evenly), you should insert in mouth and start your lighter or match. You don't want the match to directly contact the cigar - use the inbound airflow through your mouth (suck, don't inhale) to draw the flame into the cigar. You rotate the cigar slowly during this time to get the entire cigar lit. Slow, even draws during the lighting process will prevent a bitter taste in your mouth. When you're smoking your cigar, I recommend drawing very lightly at first and taking your time; this helps impart a good taste. And give it some time. so many people smoke cigars in a rush and wonder why it tastes bad and why anyone would get involved in that kind of hobby - take your time.

I strongly recommend a sweet alcoholic beverage (whisky, cognac, scotch, bourbon) or tall glass of lemonade and iced tea (Arnold Palmer).

Take your time. Take your time. Take your time.
posted by arimathea at 3:59 PM on April 21, 2009 [6 favorites]

Cigar Aficionado's executive and senior editors have some instructional videos buried down near the bottom of a flash list.
posted by carsonb at 4:03 PM on April 21, 2009

Cigars should be stored (and preferably aged) in a temperature range of 65-70F, a relative humidity of 65-70%, in a box lined with Spanish cedar.

Use a good torch flame lighter, and don't draw on it while you're lighting it. The instructions above are good for lighting. Blow the smoke OUT when you're done lighting, and before you start drawing.

A good drink will improve the taste of the cigar immeasurably. I prefer (1) diet coke, chilled in a can; and (2) either a well-aged tawny port, or bourbon on the rocks.

Take a sip of port or bourbon. Roll it around in your mouth for a few seconds. Then draw from the cigar. Let the smoke flow out of your mouth in a thick cloud; not need to blow it out. Savor the flavor for a few secs, then take a sip of the diet coke to cleanse your pallet. Repeat.

Doing this with a really good cigar and port combo always puts me in a state of great bliss.
posted by mikeand1 at 4:09 PM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

^^ EDIT "Roll it [port or bourbon] around in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing." (You don't keep it in your mouth while drawing from the cigar!)
posted by mikeand1 at 4:10 PM on April 21, 2009

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