I smoked my first real cigar years ago. It was an Arturo Fuentes Corona, natural wrapper. It came from a box bought by a friend to celebrate the birth of my first daughter. None of us were cigar smokers at the time. That didn’t stop a small group of my friends and I from lighting up while the women gathered inside talking baby. No one got through much of their cigar that night and in the morning I picked up the five, sad hand- rolled Dominicans and disposed of them.
In the weeks that followed I decided to make it a Sunday tradition to sit out back with my dog and enjoy the box my friend had given me. I must confess that the enjoyment was not immediate. At first the glass of JD and Coke was the only part I enjoyed. It took some time before I could finish the cigar without getting nauseated or frustrated with how many times it went out. I remained determined though. Around the third week, I sat watching my dog pounce in the hills behind my house and puffing away. Something clicked! I began to genuinely appreciate the taste and the feeling of smoking a good cigar.
To this day, I only smoke three to six cigars a month. I smoke when I have the time to really enjoy it and the occasion is right. I like to smoke in good company or alone to think and reflect. Over the years I have had the opportunity to smoke some great cigars and have developed a serious palate for them. Several of those old friends who were with me for that first cigar have become aficionados as well.
In retrospect, there are some things I wish I had known before lighting that first Corona. Here are just a few:
- Sometimes a good cigar can stick with you longer than you want it to. After you smoke or before going to bed, mouth wash with hydrogen peroxide. Mix the peroxide with an equal amount of water and gargle. It kills any bacteria you pick up from the cigar and returns your breath to normal. The Mrs. will thank you.
- Even experienced cigar smokers push it too far sometimes. Have some dark chocolate nearby to munch on if you start feeling green. There is something in the chocolate that rescues your bloodstream quickly.
- The enjoyment of a cigar happens in the mouth not the lungs. When you draw on the cigar, don’t inhale a bunch of smoke. Plenty of it gets into your bloodstream through your mouth and your nose. Instead concentrate on the flavor you experience with your tongue. Actually taste it.
- Don’t rush. If you don’t have 40 or 50 minutes to relax it’s probably not a good time to smoke a cigar. When you get into a good rhythm drawing the cigar, you won’t get nauseated and it stays lit. It takes some time to find your rhythm but it really makes a difference when you do.
- If you are new to cigar smoking, try a natural fill and a natural wrapper. These cigars are lighter in color inside and out. They are a smoother smoke and good to start with. There is awesome flavor in the Madero (darker) cigars but work your way up to them.
- Smoke a large ring size (diameter) cigar. A 46 to 52 ring is perfect. The larger diameter stays lit and smokes cooler.
- Surround yourself with a great environment. Good friends, a great view, things to think about, your favorite beverage and a relaxed state of mind. That’s what cigars are all about.
Tonight I’m sitting out back smoking one of my favorite Dominicans on a Friday night after a long week. My Katie is fifteen now. She just came out back to give me a kiss as she rushes out the door for some plans. I thank my good friend for buying me those Arturo Fuentes years ago and I wish I had saved just one for sentimental value.
In Temecula there are still a few places to buy and smoke cigars. One of my favorite places to buy cigars is at Olde Town Smoke Shoppe. They are friendly, knowledgeable and they carry a great selection. They are located at 28636 Old Town Front Street, Temecula, or call them at 951-699-1918
Review by: Steve Rogers