Cigars for all occasions: More than just a celebration

Cigars for all occasions: More than just a celebration

by Nick Hendry

What is the first image that comes into your head when you think of Cuban cigars? With the exception of yourself, who do you most associate with their enjoyment?  In what setting is this person to be found enjoying their stick?  While everyone is of course different, it is a fair bet that the prevailing image will be of a man, or men, enjoying their cigars in fine dress and fine surroundings; an image of success, excess and expensive tastes.  These men will often be older, usually white and at appear to be at the end of their day, having retired to the drawing room at the end of dinner for cigars and haughty conversation.

There is nothing to say you are not justified in having this preconception – cigars have long been the luxury pastime of those with more means than many others, and the image of such gentlemen puffing away in their mansions has been perpetuated throughout various media for over 100 years.  Many people who are not long into, or have even yet to begin, their cigar journey are still intimidated by this association, but the reality is far removed from this stereotype.  Cigar beginners today can look forward to being welcomed into a community of people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and all genders, united by a love of fine tobacco.

The significance in modern life of social media and communication technology has had no less an effect on the world of cigars than any other aspect of society.  Groups are found all over the internet, particularly on Instagram, offering cigar beginners advice on how to choose their first sticks, support when the breadth of choice seems overwhelming and a friendly atmosphere to enjoy as they start to explore the wonderful world of the cigar.  It is high time that the go-to image of cigars being enjoyed shifted from the out-of-date picture of wealthy men’s indulgence and towards the many different moments that can be well punctuated with a delicious Habano.

Enjoying Cuban cigars on the streets of Havana

Cigars are the perfect spark for good conversation

The Convivial Conversation

The one enduring, perhaps even endearing, aspect of the old image is the conviviality of the group; they are at least enjoying their cigars in company, over a good conversation.  This is one element of smoking that will never go out of style, for enjoying a cigar in company can enhance the experience no end.  It can serve as merely an aside to conversation, or provide the topic in itself.  Hours of talk can be generated by comparing tasting notes, favourite sticks, recommendations for rare editions to seek out…the list goes on.  Alternatively your cigars can serve merely as a common ground from which to start before moving discussion on to anything but smoking – music, current affairs, sport, travel are all topics which may provide the second mutual interest.  No matter what you choose to cover – even if it is nothing at all – the mixing and blending of the smoke from different cigars will be representative of the exchanging of views and knowledge throughout your conversation.

Pair a rare cigar with an excellent beverage for a celebration

A rare cigar, like the Montecristo Supremos, is a fine addition to a celebration

The Indulgent Celebration

As much as cigars should be for anybody at any time, they do lend themselves particularly well to moments of opulence and grand celebration.  The artisanal nature of their production, the sheer physical stature of some larger editions, and the luxurious livery of brands like Cohiba fit perfectly in situations which call for a higher standard of dress and more extravagant level of consumption.  Some achievements or milestones deserve to be marked with a little extra pomp and ceremony – a rare cigar, not often considered for smoking due to scarcity or expense, is an ideal addition to such moments.  Sometimes it is appropriate to open your finest champagne, put on the garments that make you feel your best and light up the stick you have been saving.  Life is to be lived, and treating ourselves with the best we can once in a while is good for the soul.

Lounging with an H. Upmann Regalias cigar

Loungewear and a solo cigar can be the perfect relaxation method

The Pure Relaxation

While convivial smoking must be shared with a few likeminded aficionados, and indulgent celebratory smoking will most often be done in groups, there is as much to be taken from enjoying a solo stick.  Sometimes we all need a moment alone to take stock of life, to completely disconnect from all that stresses us and the pressures of the everyday, and re-centre our minds to be prepared for the challenges to come.  For hundreds of years tobacco and the act of smoking has been used to aid this process.  Even a short 30-minute cigar – nothing expensive or extravagant needed – can be enough respite to allow us to regroup and take another crack at the elements of life which have been getting us down.  More and more in the modern world focus is put on self-care, on the importance of taking time to ensure one’s mental health is a priority.  Paying attention to nothing but the flavours of your cigar and the shapes and patterns of the smoke that dances from each end can be a fine way to do just that.

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