The Right Way To Smoke A Cigar
There’s more to smoking cigars than meets the eye, including a few rituals and a little bit of showmanship. The wrong move — inhale like you’re pulling a bong hit — and you’re going to look like a noob in front of other dudes who are puffing away enjoying their Churchills (we’ll explain what that is in a second).
While we can’t explain how to smoke a cigar without inviting the possibility of lung cancer or keeping the wretched stank off of your clothes or breath, we can offer tips like how to cut a cigar, how to choose one, and provide you with enough info to take part in a conversation about cigars, or fake your way through a cigar-smoking session when you’re celebrating or you’re too inebriated to turn one down.
*We apologize for the hefty amount of sexual innuendoes that appear in the copy, but hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.
#1. SIZE MATTERS
See what we mean? Sorry, you’re going to have to get used to it.
Cigar length is measured in inches while girth (heh heh) is measured using a ring gauge based on a 1/64 of an inch scale, meaning a cigar with a 64-inch ring size would be one inch in diameter. Generally, a thicker cigar will burn “cooler,” meaning that the smoke won’t be as hot when it hits your mouth.
Popular styles of cigars include Churchills (long and of average thickness), robustos (short and fat), and the various coronas (different sizes). The shape will affect the time it takes to smoke the cigar as well as the flavor.
There are seven basic shades of cigar colors with lots of different shades in between. Remember: a cigar with a pitch-black wrapper might be filled with much milder tobacco than its looks convey.
#2. HOW TO CUT A CIGAR
You’ll cut the cigar using one of those double-edged guillotines made for cutting cigars. If you need instructions on how to use one of those, for shame, sir.
There’s a “head” and a “foot” to a cigar. The head goes in your mouth, which of course lends itself to countless “giving head” jokes. With most cigars, you have to
circumcise clip the head before you can smoke them. Check for a cap — a small tapered bit that is held in place by a non-toxic adhesive — on this end of the cigar and cut the cigar through the cap.
Cut the cigar below the “shoulder” where the cap meets the body of the cigar. If you cut the cigar above the shoulder, it will come apart in your mouth. Not a good look.
PRO TIP #1: After cutting but before lighting, inhale air through the cigar. If it was rolled correctly, the air should draw through it evenly. If it doesn’t, toss the cigar and start over. Well, unless it’s your only one, obviously.
#3. HOW TO LIGHT A CIGAR
If you can, grab a butane lighter, wooden match, wooden thingamajig called a cedar spill or blowtorch. They all look infinitely cooler and classier than say, a cheap plastic lighter from 7-Eleven.
Before lighting, hold the end of the cigar that you’re going to light — remember the foot? — away from your flame and rotate it slowly until there’s a slight char across the tip. This is called toasting and will make the cigar easier to light.
#4. SPARK IT UP
As you’re lighting the cigar, put it in your mouth and, ahem, suck on it gently. Be sure sure to keep the head just outside the flame. Rotate the cigar as you’re — oh, man — sucking on it. Try to make the flame come to the cigar and never dip the cigar into the flame. Putting the cigar into the flame will burn your tobacco and make it taste like burned Yeti hair. That’s bad.
#5. HOW TO SMOKE THE CIGAR
Now that it’s lit, you can lean back and rip on the cigar like it’s a joint, right? Wrong. Just into your mouth though — not your lungs. If you inhale cigar smoke into your lungs you run the risk of barfing.
Roll the smoke around in your mouth and try to suss out the flavors you like. Some people will tell you they taste leather or wood or — god forbid — earth. These people are pretentious. Just concentrate on figuring out what tastes good to you.
PRO TIP NO. 2: Do you have a drink handy? You should. Think scotch, bourbon, or cognac. Port will do, too. Vodka will be overpowered by the smoke. No spritzers either, but that should be a given.
#6. HOW TO ASH A CIGAR
If you’ve got a good cigar, the ash should essentially stay in the shape of the cigar as you smoke it, without falling off. But any cigar can have an air pocket that will make the ash fall right into your lap. So after an inch or so has burned down, tap it lightly into an ashtray or onto the ground. (Relax, hippie. Most cigars are all natural.)