Cigar Lounge Etiquette 101
CIGAR ETIQUETTE – Whether you prefer a Torpedo (from RememberCubaCigars.com) that is perfectly aged or a smooth stick of Connecticut with your friends, there are a few etiquette tips for cigar lounges. So, just what is a cigar lounge and how do you get the most of the experience. Regardless of which lounge you visit, cigar lounges typically fall into one of two categories: (1) Sports Lounges, and (2) Library Lounges.
This is a very popular style of cigar lounge and acts more as a bar or social club than the library lounge does. Often they will show sporting events on large television screens, they are rarely quiet and are typically frequented by a younger clientele looking for a good time with other men and women who enjoy cigars. Often they’ll feature classic pub style menus and live music or dancing. You won’t find me in one of these lounges, but they are very popular.
This is quiet, library style bar similar to a piano lounge where customers come to relax and unwind in a serene and relaxing environment. Typically, there will be soft music and will offer a variety of newspapers, magazines, and have a fully stocked bar to serve drinks and food. This is not a party atmosphere.
Visitors should be mindful that since it’s a place to relax, many won’t enjoy the company of others outside their own inner circle. If you do intend to enter into a discussion with someone in this type of environment, it’s important to be respectful of their time and need for relaxation.
Buying vs Bringing
One topic of contention with cigar lounges is whether it’s appropriate to bring your own cigars if they sell them. This is especially tricky when visiting a tobacconist as obviously, their primary role is selling cigars. They simply offer a place to allow you to smoke it, with the intent being that you’ll be smoking one of their cigars.
This is troubling for me, since I’m very particular about how long my cigar has aged in the humidor. When you buy a cigar from any lounge, including a tobacconist, it’s almost impossible to know how long the cigar has been in their humidor. For all you know, it arrived just a week ago after sitting on a loading dock or in a warehouse for six months. My rule of thumb is I always bring my own cigars to smoke but I also always buy cigars from their humidor. Of course, it’s important to ask them if you can smoke your own cigars, but most tobacconists are fine with that because they understand your point of view on aging the cigar properly. In fact, I’ve even been complimented by a tobacconist for bringing my own cigars. If they do have an issue with you smoking your own cigar, then you either have the choice to leave and go elsewhere, or to try and select a cigar that’s perfectly aged.
Picking Your Cigar
If you are going to be purchasing a cigar from the humidor, there are a few hard and fast rules that should be observed. Almost every cigar lounge will have a resident expert that can provide you with the best information on their selection. This person should be your new best friend. Draw on their experience and take their advice. They know what they’re talking about.
It’s okay to touch cigars, but that doesn’t mean you should squeeze them, put them in or against your nose, and definitely don’t taste them. I’ve seen all of these acts done in person and there’s no bigger turn off for the other customers. No one wants a cigar that you just pushed against your nostril, licked or squeezed the life out of. Cigars should be handled with care. Rolling it gently between your fingers is enough to tell if the cigar is well rolled and fresh. Sniffing it from a few inches a way will give you a general idea of the aroma and as for tasting it, you’ll just have to wait until after you bought it. However, that is where the experts come in and when you should ask for their opinion. One final tip: if the cigar is individually packaged in plastic, don’t remove it from the casing. That pleasure is reserved for the person who purchases it.
The Cigar Accessories
When smoking a cigar at a lounge, many lounges will offer communal cutters, ashtrays and lighters or matches. If you are using the communal tools that are shared with others, it’s very important to make sure you treat them the way you would want others to treat them.
ADAPTED: THE GENTLEMAN’S GAZETTE – Cigar Etiquette 101 (March 11, 2015)