Cigar Aficionado

Winter's Dilemma

Happy New Year. I have been spending a little over a week in Southern California and I have not had a cigar the whole time. I am Jonesing for one now. The problem is the environment. I have been staying with my parents in Palm Springs and Carlsbad, and there is no smoking allowed there—­ never was! And the weather has been so cold (for Southern California mind you!) that it has not been conducive to outdoor smoking, either.

I don't know how you all enjoy a good cigar during the bad weather months. I see pictures of people out on their terraces smoking in the snow or others in their backyards puffing away under gas heaters. I have to give all of you forlorn cigar lovers the highest kudos. You are men. True men.

But, honestly, it's not the right place to smoke a cigar in subzero weather, or in the wind blown garden of a man's castle. You will never get the true enjoyment of a fine cigar in such an environment. I just wouldn't bother. But I understand your persistence and your heroism.

There are exceptions for myself. I remember last year at a dinner with my two brothers in Oceanside at the beach and we all went up to the rooftop terrace of his apartment and froze and smoked together. It made us feel closer together, like a fine cigar does on a cold night. But it was a pretty unpleasant experience as far as cigar smoking goes. I couldn't taste a thing.

I don't have an answer for improving this dilemma. It's something we have to suffer through each year when the weather changes for the worse. I am happy that I can smoke in my house in Italy. I wish I could invite you there for a smoke. I no longer have a wife and my two dogs are used to the smoke. What could they say anyways? And they are not judgmental, like my ex-wife. They like me even if I have drunk too much or have fallen asleep on the couch or invited loud and drunken friends over for a nightcap, but that's another column.

Enjoying a great cigar during the winter can really be a bummer. And I feel for all of you.

"James, I enjoyed your comments - ironically I happened to spend the holidays with my parents who visited us in Carlsbad and we took a short trip to Palm Springs for a few days. On a side note, I did stop by the Cohiba smoke shop at the River that Todd Loeffler mentions in this string and picked up a couple of Rocky Patel Decade Torpedos. And despite being with my antitobacco mother, I did smoke some cigars. I was chagrined when my 7 year-old son told my mother, "Did you know your son smokes cigars?"I recently started smoking cigars while deployed as a surgeon with the US Navy to the Horn of Africa. My initiation included smoking a half a dozen of Cohiba Esplendidos that my OR nurse gave to me. Little did I know that the cigars he gave me where priced at $30 a stick and that I had the privilege of enjoying them after they had spent three glorious years in his humidor.Needless to say, I am hooked. Although the Christmas season in Carlsbad was as cold as any winter I have experienced here (though nothing like the 8 years I spend in college and medical school in Chicago) I couldn't help leafing through CA and sneaking out for the occasional evening cigar." —January 9, 2009 23:34 PM
"James, too bad I don't know you because my brother lives down in Carlsbad (just north of downtown) and he is a big cigar and wine aficionado. He has a large supply of Cubans and some very good wine and I am sure he would have invited you into his home to enjoy both of the items you have been missing." —January 5, 2009 22:37 PM
"James, Rancho Mirage is just down the road from Palm Springs and has a very nice Cigar Lounge where I enjoyed my virgin smoke. Cohiba Cigar Lounge is located in a shopping/dining area called The River. It's located on the corner of Hwy 111 and Bob Hope Dr. I highly recommend it next time you're in Palm Springs." —January 6, 2009 03:33 AM
"Winter. In Upstate NY, the best place for a cigar is often my Audi A8L. Sad, but true..." —January 8, 2009 13:52 PM
"James, I live in Central California and even though the temperature has not been that cold (when compared to other parts of the US) these last few weeks have been cold enough to put on a winter jacket, beanie cap, and gloves just to keep warm enough to enjoy a fine smoke with family and friends. I was visiting my brother-in-law, Richard, this past weekend and his wife has never allowed us to smoke inside. So we geared up and departed to the garage. Sitting at the threshold of the garage door, we barbecued some steaks while we enjoyed a fine cigar. We are not much for drinking alcoholic beverages, so I sipped on a Coke-Cola soda while Richard had cranberry juice. So for the hour or so it took to smoke the cigar, we kept bringing up how cold it was outside and how we need to do something about keeping warmer. That's the great thing about cigars, they create an atmosphere for great conversation about something, anything, or nothing in particular. We had ideas about building onto his house to give us the "man cave" we desperately needed. He also has a son that is getting ready to go off to college and thoughts about converting his room to a cigar room quickly came to mind. So during this delusional talk we changed our topic to when the weather gets warmer and we can enjoy our smokes in the backyard barbecuing in shorts and a t-shirt. So I must admit, I hate smoking in the cold, but a man has got to do what a man has got to do. LOL! Happy New Year and I will be looking forward to reading future blogs from all you guys. Peter" —January 6, 2009 08:56 AM
""XXX Night"James,Although I feel for you, I must share my last weeks experience:I live in Northern California. It has been unseasonably cold this winter. I have a propane heater which my wife purchased for me last year to take the edge off while savoring my weekend cigars. This has it's limits though. Cold is cold. When you drop to the freeze zone no propane heater can compensate and smoking a fine cigar becomes more of a chore that a pleasure.This Holiday season my parents came to visit. Dad (81 years old)is an avid cigar smoker. Yes, hear this you "Nany Staters" I grew up in a house filled with cigar smoke and still live to brag about it. I enjoy visiting my parents on the East Coast as every evening after dinner the Cognac or Brandy is served with a cigar, inside the privacy of my parents home. My mom loves the smell of a good cigar.the weather here was rainy and cold. I could tell that my loving wife was feeling somewhat guilty that dad and I were sitting inside, browsing the latest issue of "CA" and talking of cigars and spirits. Like 2 kids looking through the holiday toy catalog with no hope of getting what they wished for. A few nights ago after dinner she told me "Go have a cigar with your dad." I looked at her, thinking to myself "Woman, I beg that you do not toy with me" gave her the deer in the headlights look. "Go on!" she said "before I change my mind."In record speed, I had the ashtray, Years aged Opus X & Forbidden X pulled from the humidor. Lighter, Cutter and every spirit with an XO and XR pulled from my bar in front of us. The X's were everywhere. I knew that someday this moment would come and my paitence in saving those special X's paid off.James, It was great. Smoking a great cigar with your dad, inside, next to the fire while sipping a fine Hennessy XO and Crown Royal XR was priceless. While watching the cold rain fall outside on my backyard smoking spot made me love my wife all the more!Cheers!" —January 6, 2009 01:19 AM
"James, I know just how you feel...Here in the Grand Duch¿temperatures reached -15 Celsius on my balcony... just a leeetle outside my comfort range for a relaxing outdoor smoke! And with a 4 year old daughter and 7 month old son, indoor smoking is on the back burner...I spent an "invigorating" 40 minutes with a Padron s¿e 1926 Maduro Belicoso in my parent's garden on new years day (@ -5 degrees)... and so I'm really looking forward to my next Padron when I'm not drinking my Havana Club Barrel Proof just to keep warm... !I guess we just need to enjoy the bracing cold weather while we can... and dream of "better days" :-)Enjoy your smokes !Rob" —January 8, 2009 16:43 PM