Thanksgiving is here at last and the 2020 holiday season is finally underway. While it’s as far as one can get from a normal year, some things will simply never change. One of those constants is a cigar aficionado’s love for a great gift and an exceptional smoke.
However, some things have changed. Golfers are getting to the course more than ever, people are cooking (and drinking) with gusto from home and some are learning new talents–such as speaking a new language or playing the guitar. All of these have been reflected in our Holiday Gift Guide of 2020, with choices from as little as $10 all the way up to $4,750.
Standout Putter From PXG ($395) www.PXG.com
Crafted of aluminum and tungsten, with four sole weights, the PXG Blackjack Putter ($395 at press time, down from $525) is a mallet that’s been built for stability and MOI (moment of inertia). But forget the impressive specs--take a look at the eye-striking design, namely the skull with the number 26, an homage to PXG founder Bob Parsons and his service with the 26th Marine Corps Regiment during the war in Vietnam. PXG Clubs are played by Zach Johnson and Gary Player, among others, and they are customizable: choose your hosel, shaft length, grip and more.
Spice Up Your Stocking Stuffers ($10) www.momofuku.com
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer someone will actually use, or are putting together a food kit for the chef in your family, consider the Momofuku Chili Crunch. This spicy and crunchy chili oil can add heat to any assortment of dishes–from Mexican salsa or Chinese noodles to your egg omelette in the morning. The $10 jar holds something far more interesting than hot sauce with its texture-adding garlic and shallot crunch, but still adds that kick that heatseekers are looking for with its three dried chili peppers.
An Artistic Mega Burner ($150) www.alecbradley.com
There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel in your smoking room (trust us: we speak from experience). No lighter lasts forever, but the Mega Burner has a tank that’s hard to drain, even when you light cigars as often as we do at Cigar Aficionado. The original is lovely, but the new Art Series Mega Burner collection dresses up the massive lighter in a limited-edition series of three different designs decorated by Ralf Schuetz, a digital artist based in Colorado. These stylish creations, limited to 500 units of each style, retail for $150 apiece and come from Alec Bradley.
Stylish and Accurate Bar Spoons ($25) www.cocktailkingdom.com
Cocktail hour has returned with force during the pandemic, and it pays to have quality barware to make complex drinks. Few know the cocktail world better than Jim Meehan, founder of the New York bar PDT. He joined with Cocktail Kingdom to create Meehan’s Mixology Spoons ($25) a tin of six finely crafted polished stainless steel spoons with narrow, deep bowls meant to ease the pain of scooping from narrow-mouthed jobs. If you hate math, the spoons list both fractions of an ounce as their measure, as well as teaspoon and tablespoon gradations, and include the exclusive half Tablespoon. (They also work for bakers.) The spoons have a snazzy look, with their ends crafted to resemble the fletchings of an arrow, and the set of six sits together nicely, minimizing the space they occupy.
Perfect Ports--Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca From the 1994 Vintage ($299) www.totalwine.com
Vintage Port is a natural partner for a fine cigar, and that fortified dessert wine is at its best when left to age in a bottle for many years. Back in 1997 Taylor Fladgate 1994 and Fonseca 1994 both rated a perfect 100 points by Wine Spectator, and were named Wine of the Year. Before that accolade, in 1996, some of that wine was bottled and has been aging ever since. The company behind both brands is now releasing a limited-edition gift box with a 375 ml bottle of each of those two Ports, the 1994 Fonseca and the 1994 Taylor Fladgate. The set, which is limited to 300 boxes, retails for $299.
Bill Murray Golf Apparel for Tailgating, Playing 18 and the 19th Hole ($82) www.murraygolf.com
Polos shouldn’t limit themselves to only one purpose, such as playing golf. These course-approved shirts from Murray Golf, a company founded by Bill Murray and his brothers, don’t take themselves too seriously–as perhaps you shouldn’t take your golf game. Their lightweight material and light-hearted graphics make them great for hitting the links, grabbing a drink at the clubhouse afterward or any occasion like a tailgate or holiday party.
These Off the Nog shirts are a new addition to the Off the Rocks collection, a pun on hitting it from some rocky hazards and having a stiff drink with ice (or potentially the combination of these two). This themed garb features some holiday classics: holly, Marty Moose, a Scotch glass and a mixer. While these shirts may not give you total consciousness, as the Dalai Lama would say: “Gunga Galunga.” At least you’ve got that going for you.
Get Away to Cigar Country (price varies) www.casadecampo.com.do
It’s hard to find a more cigar-friendly, golf-friendly and simply relaxation-friendly place than Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The resort is enormous, with all manner of attractions, from horseback riding to shotgun shooting and some of the best golf in the Caribbean, including the difficult and picturesque Teeth of the Dog course. The beach and pool scene is lovely (don’t miss the seaside dining) and when you run out of things to do nothing beats a cold, tropical drink and a rich Dominican cigar. And the resort has a new offering--private Spanish language courses for guests, taught by tutors from Abraham Lincoln School in Romana.
The Same Golf Ball Played By Tiger ($45) www.bridgestonegolf.com
OK, it would take a miracle for an average golfer to hit it like Tiger Woods, the man who has won more major championships than anyone other than Jack Nicklaus. But for $44.99, you can grab a dozen Bridgestone Golf Tour B XS TW Edition balls, the exact ball Tiger tees up on the course. The urethane-covered balls feature three-piece construction and a combination of feel and distance. They are designed for those with faster swing speeds (105 miles per hour and up), and have a snazzy TIGER stamped on the side.
Protect Your Eyes From the Sun (Or Your Screen)
With many people working from home, the need to protect your eyes from extra screen time has become about as important as guarding them from the sun. Whether it be from daily Zoom calls, answering 50+ emails a day or just putting in some extra work during these strange times, the stress of staring at your screen all day can be strenuous. The new Christopher Cloos x Tom Brady glasses collection ($179-$189) gives you the option for blue light lenses that ease the glare from your computer on your eyes, your typical polarized sunglass lenses or even prescription glasses. The best part is, they look crisp so you can stay stylish whether you’re in your home office or taking a walk around the neighborhood.
Making Scents: The Harmonist Velvet Fire ($295, 1.7 oz bottle) www.theharmonist.com
We at Cigar Aficionado opt to use cigar smoke as our cologne, but for those of you who wear a scent, consider The Harmonist Velvet Fire. Built around the principles of feng shui (think balance and harmony), it even claims notes of tobacco leaves along with lavender, sage and coriander.
Master Your Coffee On the Go ($38) www.puristcollective.com
Ever get that leak from the crevice of your Thermos or have the top of your travel mug come off, ruining your morning in one fell “oops”? One company decided to create a sleek, functional and convenient coffee container, so you don’t have to worry about such product malfunctions. The California-designed Purist Maker + Scope combines a silicon dioxide, glass-line interior cannister with a rotating, vacuum-sealing top so your beverage stays pure, without that aluminum taste.
Instead of flicking open your on-the-go mug, the 10-oz. Purist ($38) allows you to simply rotate the top and drink out of any side with its 360-degree rotating top. It even adjusts to how quickly you want to receive your enlightening liquid. A slight twist will give you minimal flow while a full twist will allow you to get your chug on. It features a double-wall insulation, what it calls an “unbreakable” glass interior and surgical grade stainless inner for durability. It can keep your liquids hot for 12 hours or cool for 24. Plus, it looks sleek and comes in a variety of modest colors.
Cut Your Cigar With Style and Precision ($278) www.eliebleu.com
While guillotine cutters have become more and more popular, the art of the scissor cut is still a stylish way to clip your cigar, especially if you have the elegant cigar scissors from Elie Bleu, the Paris-based accessories maker. And the City of Lights will certainly help the cigar lover in your family light up–with a smile and a smoke.
The scissors come in three finishes: gold, black and silver, each offering a slightly different look. Each is all crafted with a stainless steel frame, hardened surgical blades and a wide, open grip that lets you really get a handle on your cut. Each pair comes equipped with two blades that can cut up to a thick 60 ring gauge cigar. They retail for 235 euros (about $278).
The Knowledge (Or A Bottle) of Wine and Whiskey
If you’re looking for an excellent wine or whiskey to gift, peruse our sister publications’ online databases: Wine Spectator or Whisky Advocate. You can even go a step further and let your giftee decide on his or her own by getting them an annual subscription for everything high-quality wine or whiskey. After all, the gift of knowledge is evergiving. And, of course, for the cigar lover in your life, don’t forget a gift subscription to Cigar Aficionado.
Mask Up With Comfort ($20 each, $65/pack of four) www.linksoul.com
It’s an unfortunate reality we’re still wearing masks nearly a year since the first Covid-19 case was reported. Luckily, companies and even individuals have tried to help the best they could by making comfortable and even stylish masks that help you feel slightly better about the whole situation.
Linksoul, a SoCal-based apparel company, turned part of its cozy t-shirt production into a manufacturing operation that makes 60 percent cotton/40 percent polyester facemasks that combine the comfort of cotton with the flexibility of polyester ($20 each, $65/pack of four.) You can either buy the masks individually from a selection of styles or buy a group pack and gift them out separately.
Pages That Take You to Scotland ($45) www.scottishgolflibrary.com
Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the birthplace of golf, or you might just be dreaming of the day you finally tee it up in the highlands. Either way, the new book Scotland, Home of Golf, should bring a smile to your face. The father-son photography team of Iain and Christopher Lowe (who are from St Andrews) bring 14 of Scotland’s finest courses to life in stunning visuals. The stark beauty of Muirfield, the lurking danger of Carnoustie and the brooding majesty of The Old Course at St Andrews. The book features not only stunning landscapes of the courses but tales of each track and some of the events that have happened on each.
A Hockey Game Like No Other ($4,750) www.legendstablehockey.com
Slot Mods, the company that makes high-end slot car racing systems, has turned its sights on hockey. Founder David Beattie, who grew up playing fun but flimsy tabletop hockey games in is youth, has created something built to last a lifetime, the Legends of Hockey. “I created the game out of my love for tabletop hockey,” said Beattie. “It was important for me to design a game that would survive spirited competition but also make a great addition to any game room. We spared no expense in its creation.”
This is not some skimpy game, but one that’s built with quality materials, including billeted aluminum feet, a half-inch-thick playing surface, a hand-lathed puck and a hand-painted scoring system. The game weighs a portly 48 pounds, with an ice surface that measures 21 inches by 35 inches. It’s far from cheap. The starter model, which comes with two teams of your choice (options are Detroit, New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal) will cost you $4,750, plus shipping. Other team cities are also available at an additional cost.
A Great Cigar
It’s hard to miss with the gift of a great smoke. Before you head to your favorite cigar shop, be sure to have some expert advice by searching our comprehensive tasting database, our selection of the best cigars for fall 2020 and the Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars of 2019.