Smoking cigars is a rewarding hobby, one that has given me immense amounts of pleasure. I know many of you feel the same way. The other day, over a cigar, I was thinking about certain experiences that take cigar smoking to an even higher level, things that I hope many of you have already done....or will do soon. With that in mind, I present this Cigar Smoker's Bucket List.
Buy A Box of 50 Cigars
Most cigars come in boxes of 25, and today we're seeing more and more packages downsized to 20 or 10. It's time to supersize your cigar order. When I go to Cuba, I always find myself drooling over cabinets containing 50 cigars. You see these in most, but not all Havana humidors, especially in such places as the Habana Libre and in the Melia Habana. When you buy in cabinets of 50, you're ensuring that you'll have plenty of cigars for some time. With 50, you'll be covered if you want to be generous on poker night and still have plenty left over. On top of that, cigars in cabinet presentation just seem to age better, given the extra space for air. One of the finest cigars I've ever puffed was an old Punch Double Corona that was packed in a box of 50. Everyone should own a cab of 50 cigars at least once in their lives.
Watch a Cigar Being Made
The first time you witness a craftsman turn leaves into a cigar, you will be amazed. How can so much work go into something that sells for a mere $5, $10 or $15? Watching a talented cigar roller in action is art come alive. And that gets me to my next item....
Smoke a Cigar In The Country Where it Was Made
Puff a Cohiba while sitting on the Malecón in Havana, watching the old cars drive by. Smoke a Fuente while looking at the Cibao Valley from high atop Camp David in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Finish your grass-fed churrasco steak in Managua with a Padrón 1926. You get the idea. Cigars taste different when you smoke them in the place where they were made, and being there gets you in touch with the land and the story behind the cigar.
Visiting Cuba is getting easier and easier, and the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua hold regular cigar festivals. Honduras does so on occasion. Traveling in the U.S.? Make a stop in Miami's Little Havana and watch cigars being rolled on Calle Ocho. Don't forget to indulge in Cuban cuisine and Cuban coffee.
Meet Your Maker
Have a favorite brand? Shake hands with the person who created your cigar at a Big Smoke or in-store tasting event. Cigarmakers work hard for a living, and most are salt of the earth people. They'll be as delighted to meet you as you are to meet them.
Age Your Cigars
Take a box of cigars that you know you enjoy, write something memorable on the back (be sure to include the date, especially if it's a non-Cuban cigar, as few come with dates of production) and sit back and wait a few years. Forget about them, and resist the urge to smoke them. (You should have plenty of others.) When you revisit them in a few years, reflect on where you were at the moment you bought them, where you are today and smoke one with a family member or friend. Then put them back and repeat it later. We all move way too fast in this world. Cigars get better with age, and they remind us that patience can be a wonderful thing.
Any bucket list items you would add to my list?