His father is one of the cigar industry’s legendary master blenders; Avo was his adopted uncle, he knows the cigar business inside and out. He’s also just a really nice guy: Klaas Pieter Kelner, Davidoff Cigars Brand Ambassador, who talks with us about growing up at the heart of the business, the appreciation of a fine cigar, and more
Cigars and Cigar Lounge Etiquette
~ The 10 Commandments of Cigar Shop & Cigar Lounge Etiquette ~
Ten simple guidelines to make your cigar lounge experience all the more savory!
- Thou Shalt Befriend Thy Store Lounge Personnel. Start with the manager. Odds are he (or she) is the most knowledgeable person in the shop. A good relationship with your tobacconist will pay-off in the long run. Whether you’re looking for a new cigar, a lighter, a cutter, or if you’re having problems with your cigars or your humidor, your tobacconist is one of your best allies.
- Thou Shalt Think Twice Before Bringing Thy Cigars From Home. One of the most often debated questions with regard to cigar lounge etiquette is whether or not to “BYO” cigars from your home humidor into the store lounge. Most cigar store managers tend to clench their teeth a little at this, especially if it becomes a habit. If you’re a regular customer, odds are you most likely purchased the cigars in the store anyway. And regular customers tend to get a little more latitude here. If you’re going to bring your own cigars to a store lounge, at least bring brands that are sold in the store. Nothing makes a cigar store manager more irritable than seeing someone bring in an alien cigar purchased from a competitor. Even worse, is when a customer openly brags about how great that alien cigar is. Just be sure to make a purchase every now and again from your host’s humidor – it’s the right thing to do.
- Thou Shalt Welcome Thy Newcomers. If you’re a regular at your favorite cigar lounge, be kind to your new brothers-of-the-leaf. Smile. Ask them their name, and what they’re smoking. In short, make them feel comfortable.
- Thou Shalt Not Be A Show-Off. Drawing attention to yourself by boasting about the pricey cigars in your collection or your custom-built humidor is a real buzz kill. Even worse, don’t belittle someone else’s cigar. If they love smoking machine-made cigars, or flavored cigars, or $19.95/bundle cigars, so be it. Never presume you know everything about cigars, because you probably don’t (also see #6).
- Thou Shalt Not Interrupt Others. If other cigar smokers are having a conversation, don’t jump-in and start yakkin’. Sometimes people just want to talk amongst themselves. It isn’t personal. If you have something to add, at least wait until they’re finished talking. Odds are at that point they’ll be more than happy to hear what you have to say.
- Thou Shalt Not Be A “Maven” (a so-called “expert”). Every cigar smoker, regardless of their experience, has their own way of preparing their cigars. If, in your opinion you see someone cutting or lighting their cigars improperly, bite your tongue and let them continue. However, if you absolutely have to offer advice, try to take them aside, and as politely as possible say something like, “I noticed how you clipped your cigar before. You know, you’d get a better draw if you did this…” In that case, even if they don’t want your advice, they can’t fault you for trying to help them out.
- Thou Shalt Not Be A “Schnorrer” (a.k.a. a “beggar” or “leech”). First of all, remember to bring your own lighter and cutter. Most cigar smokers have no problem letting you borrow their lighter and/or cutter. But once you make a habit of saying, “Can I borrow your lighter?” they tend to do a slow burn. Most cigar lounges have community lighters and cutters on-hand for such purposes. Most importantly, never wet the tip of your cigar before using the lounge’s community cutter, and especially when using another person’s cutter. YUCK. Many cigar store lounges also provide coffee, snacks and other refreshments for their patrons. Coming in just so you can get a “free lunch” is beyond the pale. Some of the regulars will often bring in their own libations, which they are generally willing to share. It wouldn’t hurt to spring for a little payback every now and then. Want to really make an impression? Go the extra mile and pay it forward with cigars. Moreover, some cigar clubs and lounges have a “club rule” where when someone wins a box of cigars, they share the booty with the others in the lounge.
- Thou Shalt Clean-Up Thy Mess. Cigar lounge personnel have enough to do without having to clean-up after you. Remember, the floor is not an ashtray. And if you spill an ashtray, your coffee, whatever, clean it up. This will score big points for you with the lounge manager, too.
- Thou Shalt Not Use The Lounge as Thy Office or Living Room. If the cigar lounge is in a cigar store, remember that it’s also a place of business. A lot of cigar lounges have big screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Although most of us have become accustomed to it, coming in often to work on your laptop or chat on your cell phone can be annoying to other patrons. If the call is that important, take it outside or to a place in the store where no one can hear you. It’s OK every so often, but try to leave your work at the office.The cigar lounge is a place for relaxation, but don’t get too comfortable. For example, don’t spread all your personal stuff out on the couch. Someone might want to sit there. Don’t hog the remote or change the channel without asking if it’s OK to do so, either. Such behavior could end up making you a persona non grata.
- Thou Shalt Not Play Shopkeeper. This applies only to store lounges, and is one of the biggest no-no’s. You might be the world’s greatest authority on premium handmade cigars, but if you notice a customer browsing around, never get up and ask if they need help. The only exception is if a patron specifically asks you for your opinion. Even in that situation, try to get the attention of the manager or another employee so they can help the customer, and let them close the sale.
Although most of the above applies specifically to cigar store lounges, cigar lounge etiquette can also extend to private lounges and clubs. Think of a cigar lounge as a place where you can escape the problems of the world. The last thing a lounge needs are people who upset the balance within its peaceful domain.
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If you have some rules of your own, or an anecdote about a cigar lounge etiquette experience, please leave a comment.