Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A huff and a puff and the land is ours

(A special prize to whoever can figure out what I'm riffing on as re. the title.)

I come to speak of cigars.

As always, I started out easy. With cigarettes. My habit consisted of a semester of Dunhills (cigarettes) as I was, um, seeing a rather sophisticated sophomore girl during my freshman year of college (she was very partial to Gitanes). But after a broken heart, I moved up to the hard stuff: pipes and eventually strung out on cigars.

When I drink Scotch* (straight up with the merest sprinkle of mineral water) I feel my marrow ACHE for a cigar. For a while I was fortunate to have a cigar client and I managed to score The Really Good Stuff. (I once remember forwarding the catalog to a friend who said "Dude, cocaine doesn't cost this much." Little did he know he was looking at wholesale prices.) So I got used to filling my pockets with it and firing up on my back deck. FREAKIN' bliss. But then again, when you're incinerating $20's worth of leaves and converting it into an aromatic haze, it damned well oughta be. But then the situation with the cigar client dropped into the 87th circle of Hell and I was out. I did have enough sense to hoard as much as I could** prior to my bailing out. I won't tell you the names of those cigars, but I'll clue you in to the best*** you can find these days:

1- Oliva (Cameroons)
2- Gispert (Maduros)

I swear I am/was funnier and more charming with a cigar in my hand.

There is a ritual (and for good reason) to the whole cigar experience. First you clip the end with a double-guillotine cutter (I like Davidoff's but I am eager to try the new ceramic blade models). You do this by placing the cutter flat against the table, opening up the blades, positioning the cigar "cap" against the tabletop (within the opening of the blades) and shutting quickly, for a clean cut.

Next, you "toast" the end. You take a lighter and just run the flame quickly to blacken slightly the WHOLE area of the end. Then you place in your mouth, applying flame to cigar as you puff and spin the cigar. You do not want to leave any of the end's surface unlit. A proper cigar will not require you to constantly puff to remain lit. A puff every 30-60 sec. ought be fine.

Now you know!


* THE best Scotch for drinking with a terrific cigar is Aberlour 10 year old Single Malt. It's not the best Scotch overall, but its flavor profile does the slap 'n' tickle with a cigar better than anything else.
** Being shafted on my final invoice, I felt no compunction about making off with several boxes with street values--back in 1997, mark you--in the $300-$500 range. This was the best of the best stuff...nothing rated under 90 points by Cigar Aficionado or Cigar Aficionado's Insider. I then went out and splurged on a burled walnut humidor where these beauties have been aging patiently. I had one a couple of weeks ago and time stood still. The sad part is that the client sold out, the new management changed the blends/discontinued the brands and it has been HELL getting replacements. That's why I won't tell you what these are. Sorry.
*** Cuban cigars just ain't all that. The tobacco is still the best, but as one of the few sources of hard currency for the [spit]Communist gummint[/spit] the emphasis is on maximum output, not quality control. 20%-25% of the cigars in any given box will be total losses.


Blogger ferrando said...

Is my prize for identifying the head as a riff on a Smiths lyric something in a nice 50-gauge size?

Excellent post, sir. And give that gentleman a cigar for his comments on Habanos. Although I confess I do splurge whenever I can purchase 'em, I've found that the construction on many requires frequent relighting. Distracting when you're using the aromatic haze to fog up that nagging reminder of how much that currrency-converted robusto is costing you in real ol' American dollars.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Joke said...

You are correct, sir.

And...sure, what the Hell, I'll see if something interesting lurks in the humidor.


4:45 PM  

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