Cigar Aficionado

To Pack, or Not to Pack, Heaters

A lot of things have improved for cigar smokers in the past decade-better quality smokes, better availability. But one aspect has changed for the worse and it's had a profound effect on my behavior.

Back in the boom years, I wouldn't walk around the corner without a pocket humidor in case the opportunity for a smoke arose. When I was expecting to meet people, I'd carry a lot more than that in case some poor, unfortunate souls were without smoke.

But since the proliferation of smoking ordinances I've backed off on packing heaters when I leave the office. What would be the point? The occasion to smoke hardly arises now as the number of cigar bars and restaurants has plummeted and you can't even stroll your smoke through the park. Used to be that several pubs and one steakhouse within walking distance were safe havens. Now I have to get on a subway for a whiskey and a smoke.

One of the downsides of not carrying is that every once in a while the opportunity to smoke rears its lovely head and I'm left empty handed. That happened when I was at an event for Canadian Club in New York's Explorers Club. Normally, I would have thought of it as the perfect clubby, old boy's venue for a smoke, but alas you can't indulge there anymore. Except that it turned out the party was held in a room with an outdoor deck overlooking the city on a summer's evening. Perfect! But I wasn't packing. Hell! I had to stand by and wistfully watch cigarette smokers puffing away.

Yesterday, I was at a luncheon for the Art of Shaving at Masa in the Time-Warner Center. Once again, in the old days I would have thought: "Shaving-men-cigars." But this day, it didn't even occur to me. And as it happened I was seated with someone who expressed an interest in cigars when he heard what I did. He didn't smoke-except cigarettes-and was wondering what entry-level smokes he might try.

I talked him through outstanding mild cigar brands and discussed shade wrappers as a stepping off point. But nagging at me were shades of the old day. If I were loaded up with cigars, I might have been the hero, reaching into my breast pocket, pulling out an Avo or something and saying, "Try this on for starters." And he might have walked his newfound friend down to the Carnegie Club and gotten his smoke on right away.

Instead I missed my chance to be the magnanimous cigar knight and all I could offer was: "There's a Davidoff store on the ground floor here and they'll sell you one."

Close, but no free cigar.

"I'm from California and I can't even smoke in MY OWN HOUSE. Well, to be completely honest, that's my wife's rule.I always pack at least one for the road - even when I'm relatively sure not to find a place to smoke. Here in San Francisco we have the Occidental Club and The Cigar Bar and Grill in which to enjoy a libation and a fine ciger. In New York I've enjoyed the Carnegie Club and Club Macanudo. Perhaps a guide to cigar bars for the cigar smoker and whiskey drinker is in order?" —July 25, 2011 18:31 PM
"sounds even tougher in Canada than the U.S. or A." —June 28, 2011 16:00 PM
"I can't smoke anywhere where I'm from. No bars, restaurants, no parks. The only place you can smoke out in public is on the sidewalk with all the cigarette smokers. The only place I can enjoy a cigar is at my house and even thats a pain because my family members don't like me smoking in the house." —June 24, 2011 20:52 PM
"Tears are rolling down my face as my heart breaks. I have been smoking for about 13 years now, so I consider myself quite new. However, I do remember the days when smoking a cigar on a sidewalk, in a pub/bar, or a park wouldn't cost you glass-shattering stairs from people passing buy. That slowly changed to getting receiving those stairs. Now, enough glass has been broken and we are deligated to smoke in solitude. Smoking cigars is a lifestyle, let me live mine as I let you live yours!!!!" —June 24, 2011 14:55 PM
"I know what your saying there, Jack. It is a real pain now a days to get a smoke anywhere. I feel your pain as you feel it. " —June 22, 2011 19:17 PM