The 5 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars (and the 5 Worst)
By Tommy Zman Zarzecki
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…Ok, so Charles Dickens wasn’t talking about his cigar experiences, but, “I” sure as hell am. For us lovers of leafiness, there are certain places and times that are optimal for total cigar enjoyment. I am one who never just fires up out of habit, but instead, out of the ritual of enjoyment, relaxation and pleasure. So, as I pondered my adoration for premium hand-rolled goodness, I took mental note of those places and times that I enjoy the most (and being mental does add to my creative process). But then, the enzymes in my fertile brain started churning as I thought about the worst places to smoke a cigar. The list for both is rather lengthy so I narrowed it down to the 5 best and the 5 worst. Lemme know what you think…
#1 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars: End of Day Relaxation
After a long, hard day at work, you look forward to coming home and enjoying a nice cooked meal with the family, even if your family is your dogs and cats (ok, they’re not getting my grilled flank steak). Some guys savor their meals, enjoying every single bite, while others wolf down their chow like they’re being held in a Siberian gulag. Either way, you know what’s coming next is the best dessert there is – a delicious premium hand rolled cigar. Yum, I say. THIS is the relaxation one needs; this is the ritual that never gets old and always delivers. For me it’s my back patio with the torches lit while a pour of some brown liquid accompanies my stick of choice. Who the hell needs weed when this is the medicinally- relaxation that every doctor should prescribe. (Note: If it’s inclement weather I sit at the edge of the garage.) So, tonight’s stick of choice is sublime, Serie V Melanio from the good peeps at Oliva. It’s a highly rated, full-flavored ligero-laced Nicaraguan beauty that can make even 3 feet of snow seem like a day at the beach.
#1 Worst Occasions to Smoke Cigars: At your Kid’s Little League Game
It’s clearly a NO Smoking policy at kids sporting events but do I sound like one of those guys that always plays by the rules? When my son played ball a few years back I’d bring a few good sticks and no matter where I sat, even if it was 500 yards away in the parking lot, some cackling shrew would jump all over me that I was killing the children. One time at a tournament, I was in my lawn chair all the way down the 3rd base line when the umpire held up the start of the game and jogged out towards me and said, “You KNOW you need to put that out… but, I hope you have one for me after the game.” I’ve found out that umpires love cigars – but, cackling shrew moms hate them with a passion and treat you like you’ve invited the green mist creeping death that killed the firstborn Pharaoh’s son. I’ve even had the cops called on me. Yeah, I might be a rebel, but firing up at a Little League game is only gonna cause you grief.
#2 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars: Celebrations
Even in this time of politically correct, smoke-Nazi fascism, there is no symbol of celebration throughout history quite like the cigar. When something wonderful or monumental has been accomplished – think wedding, new baby, promotion, sports victory, bachelor party – breaking out some hand rolled happiness has forever been the celebratory method of choice for so many. While smoking indoors is taboo almost everywhere, many weddings are featuring cigar tables outside under tents and I can tell you that firing up at a wedding is actually more popular than ever. Of course, the smoke Nazi contingent continues to demonize tobacco, and has a hissy fit every time an athlete is seen enjoying a victory smoke. Patriots owner Robert Kraft handed out pricey Padron Anniversary sticks after the Pats’ Super Bowl win, and several of the Clemson players were photographed lighting up after their victorious National Championship pigskin win last January. And yeah, the anti-everything crowd was fully triggered. I’m often asked to bring the cigars for a wedding and the Perdomo Champagne is always a great choice. It’s one of those golden medium-bodied cigars that almost everyone likes. Trust me on this one – you’ll be a hero.
#2 Worst Occasions to Smoke Cigars: At a Funeral
Like I said above, cigars are meant for celebrations, which makes lighting up at a funeral a terrible idea. While your Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang makes the whole funeral parlor smell like a barbeque at Jonathan Drew’s house, tapping the ashes into the casket is a bit unnerving for everyone. You tell the family that grandpa would have wanted it this way, but you’re still forcefully removed from the premises.
#3 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars: Car Rides
For as long as I have been smoking, enjoying a good cigar in the car, especially on a long journey, is like having a good friend along for the ride. There is nothing like rolling down the road on a nice day with the windows open and a good premium hanging from your lips. (Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” is a great tune for this kind of adventure. I love my metal, but head-banging with a lit stogie can be a tad dangerous.) My wife just hates the stank of my vehicle after a smoky run, so I make sure to cleanse the inside often (see my Dec 2014 article, “How to Unstink Your Car: Eliminate Cigar smell” for some pointers). Perhaps my most memorable cigar ride was a late-night drive from Los Angeles to San Diego with my buddy, down the Pacific Coast Highway. We torched up a couple of Chateau Fuente King B Rosados and rolled along-side the ocean with the windows down as the scent of toasty tobacco mixed with the salty sea breeze air. Heaven on earth, I believe is the term.
#3 Worst Occasions to Smoke Cigars: At Church During Mass
So I lit up in the very back of the church one Sunday morning and Father Flern told me if I didn’t put it out I’d meet Jesus quicker than I ever expected. I admit it looked like we were electing a new Pope, but come on people, I need something to get me through the padre’s long-winded sermons. He brought the brimstone and I brought the fire. Religion is just filled with too many rules.
#4 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars: Cigar Gatherings (Herfs, Cigar Bars, Cigar Dinners, Tailgating)
One of the ultimate pleasures in smoking a fine cigar is doing it with others who share your smoky passion. Camaraderie is the key as many a good stogie brings people together from many different walks of life for a night of enjoyment, relaxation and an ample amount of hardcore bullshitting. I have often said that the cigar is the ultimate bonding tool. Herfs are awesome because they bring out the best in guys as many share and give away their prize hand-rolleds. At a cigar bar like Leaf at Famous Smoke Shop in Easton, PA, you know you’re among friends and no one will ever hassle you for enjoying the hell out of your smooth and full-flavored Shadow King by the great AJ Fernandez. Of course, a cigar dinner is always a good time that usually features tasty menu items and an array of libations. And seriously, what is better than tailgating with good food, cold beer, great friends and tasty cigars? When cigar guys get together, the world just becomes a better place.
#4 Worst Occasions to Smoke Cigars: In an Elevator
It was a long way between the 3rd and 27th floor and what a better way to make time go by fast than to enjoy your favorite smoke. Of course, people were screaming, a mom was ramming her stroller into my groin and one guy crawled out of the escape hole at the top. People are seriously just too damned sensitive anymore.
#5 Best Occasions to Smoke Cigars: Communing with Nature (Golf, Fishing, Camping, Hiking, Beach)
The great outdoors just makes cigar smoking so much more special. Is it the fresh air? Is it the time away from work? Is it the wide-open spaces? I say yes to all of the above. I love to smoke cigars on the golf course, usually picking a big-ass stick like the Camacho American Barrel Aged 6 x 60 Gordo, as it becomes my favorite club in my bag. My dad always had a nice stogie in his mouth while fishing, whether it was on land or fishing for bass in his jon boat. Sitting beside a campfire is a wonderful ritual, I mean, you’re gonna stink like smoke anyway so you may as well do it up right. What sucks is that many beaches forbid smoking nowadays, but lighting up in your folding chair while listening to the crashing waves is as relaxing as it can possibly get. Cigars are born from nature and should be enjoyed in nature.
#5 Worst Occasions to Smoke Cigars: Chuck E. Cheese at My Daughter’s 8 Year Old Birthday Party
You ever been to Chuck E. Cheese? That human sized rat made me shit myself every damned time he paraded around the room and since I didn’t have a big enough trap to kill the hideous son of a bitch, I figured I’d smoke him out. Well, the smoke alarms went off, the place cleared out and I ate a whole lot of pizza until the fire marshal showed up. Good times… bad idea.
So, how about sharing in the comments below YOUR favorite occasions to smoke a glorious hand rolled cigar!