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Jack Bettridge

A Question of Cigar Etiquette

Posted: Oct 29, 2007 5:10pm ET
Saturday night I attended a pre-Halloween party with costumes optional. The host dressed as a very convincing Groucho Marx, complete with a pith helmet and a—shall we say—unfortunate cigar that he waved around as a prop. I was wearing a less remarkable outfit (smoking jacket with ascot), but it fit into the general cigar motif, and I asked if a smoke were permissible.

Cadwalader, my host, answered, "Certainly," and added that he planned be to light his up soon. In that case, I suggested he join me with one of the Cubans I had brought in case such was the case.

Here's the where the question arises: Cadwalader gladly accepted my cigar, but said he would smoke it later and stashed it away. In the meantime I had clipped mine and had no choice but to smoke it right away. So while I had envisioned sharing this great bonding experience over prized cigars together, I smoked mine alone and my host lit up his less memorable smoke. Presumably he has yet to smoke my gift. I guess I shouldn't mind, as the cigar was a gift and his to do with as he pleased. On the other hand, it sort of let the air (or smoke) out of the situation.

What is the proper etiquette here? Should the recipient of a gift cigar in such a social situation feel bounden to smoke it with the gift giver? Of course, if he weren't planning on smoking at the time, it would be perfectly proper for the recipient to stash the proffered cigar for another time. However, there was something slightly chaffing to me about his lighting up the lesser cigar right in front of me.

Then again, many people bring a bottle wine as a gift to the host at a dinner party and he is under no obligation to uncork. After all it may not go with the meal and it might be an imposition to imply your own taste in wine onto an otherwise well-thought-out dinner plan.

Any thoughts on this?

Comments   8 comment(s)

edward sheats — new york —  October 29, 2007 5:59pm ET

Agreed. A cigar is more personal than a bottle of wine, or most other such gifts. While a gift is a gift, and becomes something at the discretion of the one who receives it; this cigar was given in the context of not only the gift but a shred experience. Not always, of course. I often give cigars to clients. But in this context, if Cadwalader intended to smoke (as he did) then acceptance of the cigar comes with joining the giver in a broader experience.Cheers!!


Mark Hallada — Atlanta, GA —  October 29, 2007 6:34pm ET

I have often gifted cigars, sometimes under circumstances where both myself and the recipient were going to enjoy a cigar right then, and sometimes when the smoke was clearly for some other time. In the former circumstance, the recipent has always smoked the cigar that was given-- as indeed I would under the circumstances. However, I'm not so sure that this is so much a requirement of etiquette or merely one of good... taste? sense? (I'm not sure of how I would characterize it).Was the fellow a regular cigar smoker? Perhaps he did what he was under the impression was proper. In any event, I would be a bit put off, as you were, but would strive never to let the recipient know this, nor to let that stop me from gifting another cigar in the future, maybe with the lead in of "hey, I brought something that we can really enjoy tonight-- I'd like to find out what you think of this cigar."


Mark Kawakami — Tustin/California —  October 30, 2007 2:21am ET

OK not everyone is a cigar snob. Some of my friends think a good cigar are the ones that taste like cherries. A gift is a gift and if you wanted him to smoke it with you should have cut and offered to light the cigar for him. I have been out on the golf course many times with friends that also want to save the Cubans I give out for a time that they can enjoy the cigar more then over a few holes that they have to put the cigar down on the green to putt. I think that there was no bad etiquette, as long as he said "Thank you".


Subscriber — New York, New York —  October 30, 2007 12:44pm ET

I can undersatnd your point. Cadwalader displayed an all to common lack of etiquette and plain old bad manners.What he should have said when you offered was something to the effect of" I seldom get the opportunnity to try a real cuban would you mind if I hang on to it to savor later"I bet if he had approached it this way you would have felt better about the situation.When he accepted your invitation to join YOU with of one of YOUR cigars in effect there is an implied understanding that he will indeed smoke the gifted cigar with you there and then.


Jim Kraekel — Tucson, AZ —  October 31, 2007 1:57am ET

UNBELIVEABLE! It's one thing to enjoy a fine cigar with the perfect beverage and savor it alone. What your friend dosn't understand is that a cigar can be, not just a sensory experience but a social one. Your friend had the chance to enjoy maybe the finest cigar that he'll ever have, with an aficionado OF aficionado's, and he passed it up!!! His loss.


David Peters — Bettendorf, Iowa —  November 4, 2007 12:48pm ET

If the recipient lights up a different, lesser quality cigar shortly after I give one, I am a bit peeved by it. I have received cigars from friends that I know have been re-gifted. I hate to think that my generosity is being used to impress someone that I don't even know. This has never been an issue with my friends that really enjoy cigars - they appreciate the camaraderie of a shared smoke. Otherwise we will give cigars with the clear request to try them later and provide feedback on what we think of them.


bryan caro — Cantonment, FL —  December 16, 2007 1:23pm ET

Unbelievable...I would have taken a moment or four to savor the aroma, style, and craftmanship of the cigar, and taken time out to show gratitude for such a gift and would have smoked the cigar along with you...while offeing you a tumbler of The Dalmore Cigar Malt to accompany that fine piece of workmanship...I am relatively new to the cigar experience, less than 5 years, and have always heard of the "Cuban" folklore...my best friend just adopted a child form Colombia, and was gracious enough to bring some Cohiba Siglo II's back with him...haven't smoked them yet, but will in honor of his new son...I hope they are worth waiting for...


Roman Savenkov April 10, 2008 9:24pm ET

IMHO, you host should've either smoke it with you or ask you to wait till his is available. Giving you a hope of smoking together and then stashing away your gift doesn't seem like a proper behavior of gentleman. OR that guy doesn't really understand that cigar is not a piece of tobacco, but a part of refined culture.



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