It’s not exactly a hidden secret that I enjoy an occasional cigar during my downtime. In fact, in recent months I’ve seen my “enjoyment” go from an occasional once or twice a month indulgence to a couple of times a week. Although it doesn’t particularly rank high on the list of things that are good for you, having the ability to sit quietly and enjoy a decent cigar provides a number of mental and relaxation benefits for me, the likes of which I haven’t encountered elsewhere in any easy way. Unlike meditation, sitting with a nice cigar allows for interruptions, such as kids asking questions or performing other tasks.
So where do cigars come from? According to a blog post I recently read, “Historians generally believe that the cigar was invented by the ancient Mayans, who would wrap the tobacco in a palm or a plantain leaf and smoke it.” The post goes on to explain that a Mayan pot from the 10th century has an image depicting a man smoking a cigar. You can check out the blog post here (hopefully the link works). the bottom line is that a cigar is considered a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco, which is usually sealed up at one end.
There are several different blends, sizes and brands of cigar, ranging from a variety of different places across the world. Although most sources will cite specific places and brands as being top quality and the Cadillac of cigars, but I’ve come to realize that for the purposes of relaxing, size, brand and style of cigar is completely up to the user. One doesn’t need to spend an absolute fortune on a cigar in order to enjoy the relaxation that comes from smoking one. For example, my favourite cigar is the Casa Magna Gran Toro cigar from Nicaragua. It retails at $16.99 and is the most expensive end of cigars that I enjoy.
If you’re cheaper than I am, you can usually find comparable examples for about ten dollars. Although that’s only a little cheaper than an average six-pack from your local liquor store, it’s important to bear in mind that unless you’re an unruly teenager striking out against one’s parents, you don’t get drunk more than once a weekend, so the safe bet is you likely wouldn’t be having more than one cigar a weekend. And since it can take well over an hour to properly enjoy a cigar until its end, you’re good to go. Granted, the big difference is there’s less of a stigma against sitting outside during daylight hours smoking a cigar than there would be against sitting outside during daylight hours hammering back a drink. But I digress…
So, what does enjoying a cigar entail? Well, the first step would be to pick one out. There are plenty of sites that will explain to you how to properly pick out a cigar and much like the fact that I wouldn’t presume to explain to you the quality of wine, I won’t try and tell you what cigars you should buy. Although I enjoy both, I’m an expert of neither, so you can look into how to properly pick out a quality cigar on your own. But once you’ve picked your cigar, you’ll likely need to cut the closed end. For this, you’ll need a good single-edged cutter. Trimming the closed end to expose a smooth, flat circle is important because this is where you’ll draw from.
Take it from me and spend the few dollars to purchase a reasonable cigar cutter. I once tried to cut a cigar using a pair of scissors and it did not go well. This is because the pressure of the scissors will cause the outer wrapping to not only buckle and tear but the scissors will likely damage the glue holding the outer binding and your cigar will likely come apart while you’re trying to smoke it. Then, you light the tip, preferably with wooden matches to avoid souring the cigar with a modern lighter. You don’t want to set the cigar in fire. Rather, you want to slowly turn the cigar slowly and allow the tip to burn lightly and evenly.
A cigar is meant to be enjoyed slowly and pleasantly, puffing and taking the smoke into the cheeks and exhaling lightly. You want to avoid inhaling into the lungs, since they’re significantly stronger than cigarettes and will irritate your lungs to no end. And smoking it too quickly will usually cause you to become nauseous and feel sick. A cigar is meant to be slowly enjoyed and savoured. If you want something fast, do shots. That shit is quick. Look at me, encouraging all sorts of vices…
Last but not least, enjoying a cigar is a very particular form of relaxation and is pretty niche, meaning that very few people will usually enjoy along with you. Most certainly, it’s something that’s extremely hard to enjoy around folks who don’t partake of them, as well. Personally, I keep a chair and table inside my garage and enjoy them by myself during the warmer months of the year. Either way, vices are to be enjoyed minimally or sparingly and cigar smoking is no different. ☯️