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How to Pick a Good Cigar Setting matters: Your first instinct might be to go to a cigar lounge, but this approach can be very overwhelming, being surrounded by more experienced cigar smokers may make your friends feel very intimidated. Reflecting on your novice days, I’m sure you would agree that it can be a little tricky starting out and you probably just wanted a nice casual place to give it your first try. For this reason, somewhere like your deck, porch, or man cave would be appropriate for starters. The goal is to show them how great of a pastime it is, not scare them off feeling embarrassed and hating cigars. Occasion matters: Although you probably don’t need an excuse to pull out a cigar, it’s likely your novice friends will. This is why it’s important to stage an occasion for them to try it out. Whatever the occasion, present the cigar with a relaxed approach. Don’t force or fake an event just to get someone to smoke, or you can come off as pushy, and frankly, a little crazy. The important thing to remember is that when special occasions or events arise, we want to let go and celebrate. Numbers matter: If you’re in the mood for some cigar-smoking company, you might want to throw a cigar party, or herf, and invite every John, Joe, and Jim you know. Though this might seem like the ultimate guys' night, you should be careful with the number of people you invite. When you’re a newbie, you might be a little intimidated and self-conscious to smoke around a lot of other people. You want to make sure that you have a small group of friends that ideally know each other well enough to where they’re comfortable trying new things amongst each other. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep it around two to three people. Etiquette matters: When it comes to sharing the etiquette of cigar smoking with others, be careful not to overdo it. You might be so excited to get your friends started that you’ll want to give them a crash course on everything you know about cigars. To say this is too much is an understatement. You want to stick to the basics. Start them off with the important stuff, like not to inhale, but rather hold the smoke in their mouth to experience the flavor. Be sure to show them how to properly cut and light a cigar. Avoid becoming the overbearing Mom, watching them as they do it on their own, correcting them along the way. Give them some space, and if they have any questions, let them ask away. If all goes well, they’ll enjoy their experience enough to be open to the idea of going to that cigar lounge and smoking with the big boys. Of course, be sure to show them how to hold their cigar the correct way. They might be cigarette smokers, or instinctively want to hold the cigar like a cigarette, it’s your duty to demonstrate the proper technique in holding and drawing on a cigar. Encourage them to take their time, savor the complexity of the cigar, take in the flavors, and simply enjoy the experience. Cigar selection matters: When choosing the right cigar to start them with, things can be a little tricky. Of course, you want to hand them a good smoke, but be sure not to get something too strong or big. Keep it manageable. In other words, don’t commit them to an all-nighter when they might be apprehensive to start. You should go with something complex and medium bodied. You want to find that "sweet spot" of a cigar; not too mild to where they don’t experience the complexities of a well-blended cigar, but also not something too strong to where you’re sending them home sick and traumatized. Go with the good stuff, but also don’t go pulling out your prized $15 premiums. There’s no guarantee that the experience will go well, so save yourself the stress of seeing half-smoked sticks lying around without good reason. Go with a cigar that you’re familiar with that hits around the $5 price point. March/April 2017 GASPARILLA ISLAND 41


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