The Fire Pit

Fire pits. The words conjured up images of Burning Man weekends in the desert, or Jean Auel scenes from novels about prehistoric man’s travails. Sure, in concept, I could see how they might be alternatives to a fireside lounger in a wood-beamed lodge in the mountains. But as a place to enjoy a cigar? Well, I was dubious.

No more.

It was an unusually warm January night in Naples, Florida. I’d been participating in two days of editorial meetings with the Wine Spectator crew, and we had just returned to the La Playa Beach Resort after a wonderful, wine-soaked meal. Marvin Shanken and I walked into the bar at the hotel, and asked the waitress where we could sit down and have a late evening smoke. She said, “I’m sorry. You can’t smoke inside, but there’s the fire pit.”

Through the windows and the open door, you could see the flames leaping up from the ring of stones, surrounded by wooden lounge chairs. Marvin and I looked at each other, and said, "Sure, let’s go." I had brought some cigars from New York; I don’t even remember now what they were, although I do recall I had some fugitives from a just-completed Cigar Insider tasting in my leather traveling case.
We settled into the chairs, lit up and leaned back, the Florida night sky above us, and the sound of the soft Gulf of Mexico surf in the background. The waitress came and took our orders, and as the smoke drifted up, I waited on my glass of Bacardi 8 on the rocks. We chatted, but the moment was as much about being outside and relaxing after a long day as anything else. A few people came and sat around the pit too, and began talking to each other, strangers getting to know each other through those innocuous questions seeking common ground. We listened, but on another night, it was easy to imagine people coming and going, talking, laughing and smoking cigars, all in a pleasant, convivial cocoon.

If I had my own fire pit, I might do things a little differently. The chairs were a bit too canted back. They needed some cushions. I might install some outdoor speakers.

But I wouldn’t do a whole lot more. The flames of the fire and the flicker of the stars would provide about all you need to be content.

Adam 'Jock' Walker February 18, 2012 7:48am ET
Excellent piece. Although I am now looking at my garden trying to work out where I can install a fire pit too...
Robert Marland Glen Allen, Virginia, USA, February 18, 2012 9:48pm ET
just moved back to a nice place in the country...already had my fire pit picked out..a nice fire burning pit in the backyard to enjoy peace and quite of the country, look at the stars and enjoy a good drink. life doesnt get much better
Doug Lindsay February 19, 2012 12:50pm ET
I retired and moved to the Tullymore golf resort several years ago and discovered that EVERYONE has a conversational fire pit. Many, many evenings with friends are now enriching my retirement.
Anthony Marozzi Toledo, Ohio, USA, February 19, 2012 3:12pm ET
There is nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a peaceful night by a fire with a drink and your favorite cigar (Perdomo Patriarch) . People always say they want to be by the beach or watching the sunset with someone....Im perfectly fine alone with the stars and the only sound you hear is the crackling of the fire, with a glass of whiskey and a perdomo.
Alan Garcia Dover, DE, USA, February 20, 2012 10:02am ET
The firepit in my backyard has been my salvation during the unusually "warm" winter in Delaware. Not terribly cold, but enough that mandates the firepit. I have it set up with two wicker chairs (and cushions), small wood table between them with a cigar ash tray and enough space for a bottle of libation and glass. We have outdoor speakers set up... but usually the crackling of the burning wood and the sounds of the night are good enough.
Todd Newman March 1, 2012 9:43am ET
Thanks for the story Gordon. Felt like I was there.
Todd Newman March 1, 2012 9:49am ET
Thanks for the story Gordon. Felt like I was there.
Todd Newman March 1, 2012 9:54am ET
Thanks for the story Gordon. Felt like I was there.

Log in if you're already registered.

Or register for Cigar Aficionado today—it's free.

Registration allows you to:
  • Keep track of your favorite cigars in your personal humidor.
  • Comment on all our stories.

Forgot your password?

Ratings & Reviews

Search our database of more than 17,000 cigar tasting notes by score, brand, country, size, price range, year, wrapper and more, plus add your favorites to your Personal Humidor.