Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Cigar Etiquette, On and Off the Golf Course

By Timothy Long

We’re on the ninth hole and all agree that it is cigar time. We teed off at 10:30 in the morning. It is now 12:45 P. M. Not a bad pace for a bunch of old guys who cheered when they found out that the beer cart girl had Bloody Mary’s. Making a Bloody Mary takes a little longer that popping open a beer. Plus, most of the guys were enjoying chatting with the beer cart girl.

Our cigar of choice was a Nub Habano.  It is a great golfing cigar. It has a larger ring gauge, which refers to a cigar’s diameter. It’s also a lighter smoke. I keep a cigar clip in my golf bag. You never know when you are going to be presented with a cigar while golfing. The two traditions have been intertwined for centuries.

I attached my cigar clip to the top back of my golf bag, clipped my cigar to it, and head to the tee. I’ve learned to always attach the clip to the bag, not the golf cart. I’ve lost two that way.

“Hey look!” my buddy Smitty yells. “Mr. Pretentious has a clip for his cigar!”

We all attended college together and are fraternity brothers. The razzing is all part of the brotherly experience.  I unwittingly did a great job of making myself a target.

“Nice fancy shorts, Tim.” My buddy Dave says. I wore peach-colored madras shorts. I asked for that one.

“Oh, Mr. Pretentious can keep score on his watch!” Yes, Smitty, my golf watch does keep score.

“Ooh, Tim is drinking Stella Artois!” The country club did not have a large selection of beers. The rest of those sods were drinking Coors Light. Anyone who reads this column knows my opinion on that.

Golf, beer, and cigars are all perfect tools for making any gathering more fun. All three have been combined for enjoyment for centuries. Let’s chat about cigars.

Cigars are part of American history, although its origins can be traced back much further. It is thought that the Mayans invented the first cigars. There is a depiction of a man smoking a primitive form of a cigar on a Mayan jug from 10 A.D. As the Spanish and Portuguese colonized the new world, tobacco and cigar smoking became very popular back in Europe. It did not take Spain long to figure out that Cuba was the best place to grow tobacco. In 1762 the British captured Havana and held it for 9 months. This was just long enough to introduce cigar smoking to the rest of the world and especially the colonies. Since the mid-18th century, it has been popular way for Americans to relax and enjoy the company of good friends.

Just as with any other pleasurable vice, there are rules of etiquette for cigar smoking. Being classy ladies and gentlemen, I know you will want to know the proper rules of conduct. I wouldn’t want you to embarrass yourselves, or, worse yet, me, in public. Here are a few rules for cigar smoking, and a couple of tips for on the golf course.

Cigar Etiquette

Bring a cigar lighter, and a cigar cutter or punch with you.  You will need to cut off or punch a hole into the cap of your cigar to light it. Many cigar lighters come equipped with a cigar punch. It’s a good feature to look for when buying one. If you do not have a cigar lighter, make sure a friend has one that you can borrow.

Light your cigar properly.  You want the cigar to burn evenly. Do not directly put the front of your cigar into the flame. Hold the cigar about a half an inch in front of the lit lighter, gently puff, and slowly rotate the cigar. Be patient. You will begin to see a red glow. Once the glow encompasses the front of the cigar, it is lit. And do not light your cigar with a common cigarette lighter! The butane from that cheap thing will ruin the flavor of your cigar. Plus, it makes you look like an oafish amateur. Honestly, you might as well scratch yourself and belch loudly right before you do it.

Be mindful of your cigar ash.  Do not let it get too large. Yes, it’s fine to have some ash at the tip. It even helps keep it cooler as you get further into the cigar. However, you do not want it falling off and hitting your clothes. Or falling into the fine whiskey that you are enjoying with your cigar.

Do not snuff out your cigar.  Smashing the front of your cigar into an ashtray creates a mess and a lot of unnecessary smoke.  When you are finished, simply set the cigar on the side of the ashtray, and let it expire. It will go out on its own.

Do not dip your cigar into anything. Yes, I know Winston Churchill dipped his cigar in brandy. But none of us are Winton Churchill. He could get away with uncouth behavior because of who he was. Plus dipping your cigar does nothing to enhance the flavor. It only increases the odds of getting cigar ash in your drink.

Smoking Cigars on the Golf Course

Be mindful of others.  If you know everyone who you are golfing with, great. But if you do not, ask the other players if they mind if you smoke. Don’t just assume you can light up.

Placing your cigar on the ground or on the golf cart is not a good idea. You do not want to start a wildfire. Golf cigar clips are not expensive and can keep that lit cigar from creating a disaster.

Bring a torch lighter.  Torch lighters are mostly wind resistant. This will help prevent you from scorching your cigar or causing it to burn unevenly.

Go with a larger ring gauge. These cigars last longer, are easier to relight if they go out, and require less “baby-sitting”.

Tim’s Whiskey and Cigar Recommendations

Widow Jane 10-Year-Old Bourbon

This is one of my favorite summer bourbons, and it’s from New York. This bourbon is perfect to sip on the rocks on a warm summer evening. On the nose you get corn, oak, some vanilla, and a hint of apple. It is sweet on the palate with corn and vanilla up front. Some pepper spice hits you about halfway through the taste. It all blends nicely. It finishes sweetly with a beautiful blend of oak and pepper. It’s 91 Proof, runs about $75 per bottle, and is well worth the price.

Artisan’s Passion Toro by Paul Garmirian

This is a full-bodied cigar. But it is light enough to make it a good summer smoke. The taste has a lot of wood and leather. However, these flavors blend well with the pepper and oak flavors that come through. It draws well, has a good ash and an even burn. It runs in the $9 to $10 range and will blend well with the Widow Jane you are sipping. Enjoy.

This cigar, and many other fine cigars, are available at John Crouch Tobacconist at 215 King St. in Old Town Alexandria. Mention this article and get 10% off the purchase of this month’s recommended cigar.

About the Author: Timothy Long is an educator, writer, consultant, and experienced restaurant operator. Email: tlong@belmarinnovations.com. Instagram and Twitter: @wvutimmy. Blog: What is that fly doing in my soup? http://whatflyinmysoup.com

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