Symbols of luxury, prestige and Cuba, for centuries, cigars have been one of the favorite vices. They range from small Coronas or Cigarillos, to long Panatelas, Pettit Coronas, to famous Double Coronas. Largest cigars are Lonsdale. Smokers choose cigars based on their affinities and mood. Some are enjoyed in the morning or afternoon; others are traditionally smoked in the evening, after a meal and with a glass of wine.
Cigars are made in various colors and of different strengths. The darker the cigar is the stronger and more demanding. The most famous strong cigar is Maduro, a strong, heavy cigar smoked only by the most experienced. The lightest one is green Clarissimo, a very mild, sweet cigar popular in the USA. Regular Claro is a mild cigar of a pleasant aroma.
How to smoke a cigar
Smoking cigars is a ritual. Real connoisseurs smell the cigar, caress it and enjoy it before lighting it. They say it must be smoked slowly, never during work or on the street. Smoke must be drawn only every minute. That way a Corona will last about an hour, but will be in the mouth of a smoker for just three minutes. The smoke is not to be inhaled nor kept in the mouth.
Current top cigar brands are:
- “Sol Cubano Connecticut”
- “Rocky Patel Vintage 92”
- “Sancho Panza”
- “Cusano 18”
- “Sol Cubano Corojo”
- “Oliva – Flor de Oliva”
Cohiba is a cigar made in 1968 for the Cuban President Fidel Castro. There are three series:
- Linea Clasica
- Linea 1492.
- Linea Maduro
When and how to serve cigars
Guest usually requests cigars to be served after a meal, with a coffee, a digestive or a glass of good wine. Cigars are offered from their original box. If the guest’s brand is not available, he is offered other brands to choose from.
Server must have a cigar cutter and needle, matches, candle and a lighter. It is best for a server to keep these tools on a tray and ready to use.
Server takes the cigar by the paper ring and removes the wrapping if there is any. Server then cuts off the tip so that all the leaves at the end of the cigar are cut and the air can circulate freely through the cigar. The cigar is then served to the guest.
If the cigar is lit with a match, the flick of the match is not directed towards the guest and the match is brought near the guest only when the sulfur has evaporated. Server holds the flame beneath the cigar lighting it evenly until the guest starts drawing smoke. The flame must not be strong.
It is more difficult to light a cigar than it is a cigarette. Some do not cut the tip of a cigar but pierce it with a needle to make the air circulate. This technique is not always effective.
Cigars are offered from an open box. It is best to offer light and dark ones, i.e. weaker and stronger.
Cigarettes are offered at various receptions. Several cigarettes are drawn half way out of the box, placed on a small trey together with matches or a lighter.
Guest is approached from the left or the trey is left on a table for the guests to help themselves. One box is usually served for four people.