A Cigar Smoker's Bucket List

A Cigar Smoker's Bucket List

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?

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"Thank you Hernan, your note about smoking cigars with your father made me smile at the fond memories of having a cigar with my own dad. Sadly, he is gone now so that's a ritual I simply cannot duplicate. Enjoy the cigars with your father. " —February 16, 2017 15:53 PM
"Lots of good ideas here. Mentoring a new cigar smoker is a wonderful addition. " —February 16, 2017 15:52 PM
"Always insightful David. Smoking one with my dad has been one of my best cigar moments. As for vintages, as much as I like to find them, I still struggle to discover the big differences (considering how much more expensive and hard to find they usually are) with current batches. That said, my next stick will likely be a 1999 from RP....Keep'it coming David, your articles are a journey for the soul " —February 16, 2017 11:52 AM
"I enjoy finding traditional methods to share with my cigar pals. Using spills, pairing wines or whiskeys and making the smoke an experience with each get-together. The exploration of a cigar-maker's journey from field to humidor adds to the enjoyment. Of course the best source is from the pages of Cigar Aficionado. Cheers to you David!" —February 15, 2017 15:47 PM
"I'm going to be in Havana the end of the month. Should I try to hit the Habanos festival on the first night? If so, anyone know how to get in? Website is a bit cryptic. Thanks!" —February 15, 2017 00:03 AM
"Mentor a newer smoker on the pleasures of the cigar culture and custom..." —February 14, 2017 22:05 PM
"Add my delightful experience in Ybor City in Tampa, FL a few weeks ago. Sitting right outside the shop on the Main Street smoking a cigar hand rolled for me of fine Dominican tobacco by a very experienced and talented woman with a great personality. " —February 14, 2017 18:02 PM
"Refet A good one--quite tough to pull off!" —February 13, 2017 09:12 AM
"I think smoking/buying Cuban made Davidoffs (pre-1989) should make it to the bucket list David...." —February 13, 2017 04:42 AM
"I got ya covered David. It's my first time visiting Cuba and I wanted to go prior to the Habanos Festival so I could check it out without getting caught up in the event. Don't get me wrong once I get acclimated the Habanos Festival will be on the agenda in the future. " —February 12, 2017 17:11 PM
"Save one for me. I'll be there in a couple of weeks." —February 12, 2017 10:47 AM
"David love the list. I will be in Havana this Saturday and I will be looking to pick up a 50 cab of Punch DC's. I actually had it on my list of cigars to look for in Havana and reading this just sealed the deal for me. " —February 12, 2017 09:33 AM
"When you buy a box of cigars, buy what you like, first; what you'd like to try, second; and what's on sale, third." —February 11, 2017 15:15 PM
"Done. Now what" —February 11, 2017 14:19 PM
"Gyrations additions. Rolling your own cigar is a fine one, and walking a tobacco field is perfect. Thanks all for weighing in and keep them coming. " —February 11, 2017 13:33 PM
"Great additions. Rolling your own cigar is a fine one, and walking a tobacco field is perfect. Thanks all for weighing in and keep them coming. " —February 11, 2017 13:33 PM
"Gyrations additions. Rolling your own cigar is a fine one, and walking a tobacco field is perfect. Thanks all for weighing in and keep them coming. " —February 11, 2017 13:32 PM
"Any chance you have to walk the fields of tobacco, either in the U.S. or another country, adds to the smoking experience. I spent a couple seasons harvesting and hanging tobacco in Tennessee in my youth and the feel, aroma, and sheer hard work are things I have never forgotten. " —February 11, 2017 12:08 PM
"A very nice list. I would add, smoking cigars in different environments and situations. For example, at a baseball game, at a hockey game, while taking a bath, on top of a tall building with a great view, and in an LCDH. I would also add, smoking a cigar at least 50 years old. Cheers!" —February 11, 2017 11:23 AM
"Roll one of your own. It doesn't have to be great, or even good. But I really think there's something to be said for learning first-hand about the process of hand making cigars, and deepening one's appreciation of the level of care that goes into each and every premium handmade cigar." —February 10, 2017 21:24 PM
"I don't wait to smoke good cigars. I smoke them whenever I can in a relaxing environment. Would you rather leave a humidor (or 2 or 3...) filled with awesome cigars to someone who wouldn't appreciate them after you are gone? Smoke them now. Smoke them often." —February 10, 2017 16:48 PM