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The Cigar Dinner Boom

Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Winston Churchill, Autumn 93

(continued from page 2)

If you're searching for the perfect cigar dinner, what do you look for? Should it be primarily a night for smoking? Should there be great food and wine? Should it be formal or informal? There are a variety of different things to take into account.

Some people don't like the formal attire; they prefer plain business suits. That sets a specific tone for a smoker night that is less formal and, for some people, more comfortable. But that misses the point. Black tie reinforces the elegance and importance of the night. Therefore, a request for formal attire, some say, is one of the "musts" for a great cigar night.

How to serve the meal seems to be the biggest bone of contention. Some people prefer to sit down and eat without having a cigar during the meal. Other dinners are set tip so that each course ends with a cigar; some chefs try to match the cigar to the previous course. In the latter set-up, you can expect spicy food since that is the only kind that marries well with cigars.

The postdinner period is perhaps the most enjoyable and relaxing. It's best to look for a variety of after-dinner drinks: Port, Cognac, even single-malt Scotches. This gives you a selection, depending on how you're feeling that night, and if you're up to it, an opportunity to try several different libations with your favorite cigar.

Cigar smoker nights are not without risks. Don't expect to have trouble keeping a seat to yourself if you stumble onto a late-night commuter train home. If you're in a limousine or car-service vehicle or taxi, don't be offended if the driver opens his window a crack. And don't leave your tuxedo or suit in a closed closet unless you want every piece of clothing to acquire a smoky scent. In fact, it's probably good to put it next to the front door and get it ready for the dry cleaner the very next morning. That way, when you want your tuxedo for the next event, it won't be a reminder of six-week-old cigar smoke.

There's also the issue of your next day's productivity. The general ambience at cigar dinners is not conducive to moderation. Nor does it usually promise an early evening. Some of the Boston smokers run well past 1 A.M. Hangers-on could be found around the rooftop bar at the Doral Ocean/Beach Resort Hotel until it closed at 2 A.M. CIGAR AFICIONADO'S launch dinner at the St. Regis Hotel in New York carried on around the piano at the bar downstairs until nearly 3 A.M. So don't plan an early meeting, or a jog, unless you are possessed of an inordinate amount of willpower.

A spouse's sensibilities may be the most important factor to take into account. At least one executive made a deal with his wife before attending the "21" Club charity smoker; he had to remove his tuxedo and take a shower before he entered the bedroom,

Another reveler wished that he had taken a shower. Returning home to a sleeping household after one particularly smoky evening, he climbed gingerly into bed, taking care not to wake his wife. Slowly drifting off, letting the day's trials and tribulations slip away, the smoker night veteran was suddenly jerked back awake by his wife pounding on his arm. "Get up, there's a fire in the house!" Without moving, he stared up at the ceiling and quietly said: "I think it's me, honey." Not totally awake, she leaned over, stuck her nose into his chest, took a deep breath and said, "You're right." She plopped back onto her pillow and fell asleep instantly. He smiled, but the only concession was to make a note about a shower next time before hitting the bed--and take heart in the fact that for an entire evening no one had objected to his cigar.

A Big Smoke

Fifteen minutes before the doors would open, the line of eager cigar smokers stretched across the giant foyer outside the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis. They each had paid $100 for the privilege of attending CIGAR AFICIONADO's Big Smoke in New York. The clamor grew as the 6:30 P.M. start approached, and when the doors swung wide, the crowd surged in. By 7 P.M., nearly all the 1,500 ticket holders had arrived and were smoking to their hearts' content.

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