Saturday, May 3, 2008

How to Buy a Cigar

A friend of mine is graduating this May, and rather than ply him with the obvious (a nice aged whiskey) I opted to get him some cigars.

I actually hate cigars. I'm less of a cigarette fan due to that horrendous smell and the dangers of second-hand smoke. Cigars, in contrast, can sometimes smell relatively pleasant (though not as good as a quality pipe, but who smokes pipes these days?) It's with the old boy's club elitism associated with cigar smoking that I take issue. When I see twenty or thirty-somethings trying to be hip or cool, standing around in a cloud of their own haughty smoke, I can't help but think, "Hmm, all they need are a couple of leather armchairs and a glass of cognac."

...but I digress.

I do love window shopping and shopping for other people, so how could this excursion be any different?

Step 1: Locate a tobacconist shop that sells hand rolled cigars. Fortunately, Leavitt and Peirce is located right in Harvard Square.

Step 2: Arrive at the cigar store and check out the merchandise. After first perusal it became apparent that I was completely useless in a smoke shop.

Step 3: Let the salesperson know what price range you are looking for. A good cigar will cost around eight to twelve dollars. Out of curiosity I also inquired after a fairly innocuous looking, leather "cigar" holder. When informed that it was $65 I remarked (aloud, but mainly to myself), "that's an awful lot money for something that just holds cigars." The twenty-something tobacconist just looked back at me blankly.

Step 4: Ask the salesperson to see either a mild, medium or full flavored cigar. The mild is a light smoke while the full has a heavy bodied more intense flavor. "Do you know anything about cigars?" asked the twenty-something tobacconist. I gave him the do-I-LOOK-like-the-kind-of-person-who-would-give-a-#@%* look and said, "not particularly, but how about a mild to medium variety?"

Step 5: Choose a cigar size. They are measured by length and ring gauge. Many connoisseurs favor a size between 5 and 6 inches in length with a number 50 ring gauge—the higher the gauge the larger the diameter. Again, do-I-LOOK-like-the-kind-of-person-who-would-give-a-#@%*?

Step 6: Select a wrapper. Notice all the different shades of the tobacco wrappers due to the type of plant, soil, processing and country. Two basic ones are natural and Maduro. The Maduro are very dark in color and have a distinct taste. Whatever. I ordered two of each cigar the twenty-something tobacconist suggested.

Step 7: Buy the cigars...and beeline it for the nearest girly shop to cleanse oneself of that lingering tobacco smell.

Despite my obvious distaste for tobacco, Leavitt and Peirce is a fascinating shop in which one is transported to another time period entirely, complete with original vintage glass countertops and black and white checkerboard tiled floor. The shop is filled with cases of cigars, classy silver lighters and pocket watches, cufflinks, British bars of soap and old-fashioned shaving equipment. There is even a small jewelry section in the back of the shop, presumably for the bored-silly wives and girlfriends.

List adapted from


pequitobun said...

lol!! well told! heehee. *)

pahkcah02 said...

My dad smokes cigars a few times a week and I agree - they do smell horrendous. Luckily when he demands cigars on Fathers Day he sends me a link to the JR Cigar website so I don't have to schlep into Harvard Square. What kind did you end up buying?

flutterbyblue said...

Hehe...I have no idea what brands I ended up with...the shop guy pointed them out by name as well as by color (there was a black and white label and a redish label...)