Enhancing the Moment: Tips and Tricks for Sharing Cigars with Great Company

Cigars are best enjoyed socially – here’s our crash course on how to build the best experience.

Thanks to La Aurora for collaborating with us to make this article possible.

There is something about being in your 30s that is a wake-up call. You are not old, but you have lived enough to realize that experiences don’t just happen, they have to be created.

Maybe you are thinking of planning bachelor party or reunions as often as you attend them. Maybe you’re heading out on one Camping trip with your father, knowing how fleeting time can be. Perhaps, in all the hustle and bustle of modern life, you’re just looking for a quiet evening of rest and relaxation with an old friend.

Whatever the circumstances, few things mark a special occasion better than that a good cigarand nothing makes a good cigar great than being able to share the experience with others.

The fine art of sharing cigars

There is no doubt about it – cigars lay the foundation for the perfect get-together when they are chosen correctly.

They go with almost any occasion or time of year, carry a ton of old-school cool, and work just as well with old college buddies as they do with your boss or a new father. They’re not just a gift – they’re an invitation to spend time together – either in conversation or in contemplative silence – but for all the positives, it’s still important to be smart when making your choice.

An expensive cigar is not always a good cigar, and strange as it may sound, a good cigar is not always right cigar A box of handmade figurado can offer complexity and a whole symphony of cocoa and spice notes, but that intensity might not be a good starting point for someone just starting their cigar journey. Knowing how experienced your fellow smokers are should be one of the first considerations you make when planning to share some stogies.

La Aurora
The lighter the packaging, the lighter (and more accessible) the flavors tend to be. Like coffee, darker cigars tend to have heavier flavors.

Of course, there’s a good chance that depending on the occasion or the company you’re smoking with, you won’t immediately know what your fellow smokers’ preferences are. In situations like these, one option is to simply err on the side of caution and go for light to medium-intense cigars. An enthusiast will still enjoy a good quality smoke and a beginner will appreciate the easy introduction. However, a more creative solution might be to spring for any aspiring aficionados friend: the sample pack.

Almost every cigar manufacturer and supplier on the planet offers some sort of sampler pack – a selection of different cigar flavors, sizes and styles, all bundled together at a surprisingly affordable price. While these are a great way to explore different flavors and strengths on your own, they’re also a great way to satisfy a more eclectic group of smokers – so you can offer personalized recommendations based on where people are. Beyond these benefits, there’s certainly something to be said for giving all your guests a unique cigar – everyone feels unique and no one feels pressured to compare their experience (with the smaller cigars in the package saving newcomers the duty of smoking too much if it turns out not to be their thing).

Sharing a great cigar experience isn’t just about cigars, though. Let’s talk about…

How to pair a cigar

cigar with scotch, rose wine and light rum

Whether you’re smoking alone or with company, getting the most out of your cigar has just as much to do with the beverage you drink with the cigar itself. Done right, a good cigar pairing can create an experience greater than the sum of its parts, while a faulty combination risks ruining both. While the perfect pairing will vary from person to person when it comes to creating a good experience for everyone, there are a few crucial rules worth following.

Match intensity with intensity

You’ve probably heard the old saying red wine should not be served with fish. It’s not just an outdated pretension – it’s based on the fact that the lighter, more delicate flavors of most seafood are at risk of being overwhelmed by the stronger, earthier flavors that come from many red wines thanks to tannins in them. The same principle is doubly important when it comes to cigars.

A lighter, lower-intensity cigar paired with a harder, alcohol-forward drink may well mean that the cigar’s flavor is drowned out by what you’re drinking (strongly peated scotches and strong whiskeys tend to be common culprits here). On the other hand, a heavy cigar with high intensity can easily overpower a lighter drink like white wine or gin.

Creating a good pairing means giving both your cigar and your drink equal opportunities to shine, and while it will take some experimentation and fine-tuning, finding a good balance can make each drag enhance each subsequent sip and vice versa. And on that note…

Taste should ComplementDon’t compete

Your pairings should be evenly matched when it comes to flavor intensity, but don’t make the mistake of just letting them overlap. There’s nothing wrong with an oaky, earthy drink or an oaky, earthy cigar, but together they don’t end up bringing anything new to the table.

“Our goal is for flavors to harmonize, not compete,” argues La Aurora’s master blender. Manuel Inoa. “…Like honey or molasses notes from the rum mixed with peppery notes from the cigar.”

Irish whiskey and cigar pairing

Exploring flavor combinations can be just as fun as finding a truly excellent match, but a tried-and-true shortcut is simply balancing one flavor against another. A creamy, chocolatey stout like Guinness goes well with a cigar with coffee notes. The softer, sweeter taste you get Irish whiskey like Redbreast be a good companion to cigars that bring some sharpness with pepper, spice and leather notes.

And remember…

Alcohol is not everything

A cup of coffee next to a cigar

Don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself to alcohol when it comes to pairing. For all the pop culture images of men in smoky rooms holding brandy smudges, it is actually coffee that has traditionally been the preferred pairing for cigars.

With modern cigars and coffee both exploding in popularity at roughly the same time in history (and both cultivated in Central America and the Caribbean), the two have been lumped together for centuries. While die-hards may swear that Café Cubano (traditional Cuban coffee) is the way to go, the simple truth is that coffee’s intensity and versatility (from sweet and creamy to dark and deeply bitter) make it a great counterpoint to almost everyone some kind of cigar.

However, don’t be afraid to reject the norms. Strong tea, cane sugar soda and other beverages are perfectly capable of balancing well with many cigars. Remember that for any good pairing, intensity and complementary flavors are essential – alcohol is not.

If time matters, size matters

smoking cigar next to a clock

The beverage you pair your cigar with plays a crucial role in how much you will enjoy it, but so does the time you give yourself to work through it. It’s true that you don’t need to smoke an entire stogie in one sitting, but as most aficionados can attest, returning to a half-finished cigar after a long break simply doesn’t provide the same flavor and enjoyment.

Say you are at a wedding reception and want to celebrate the occasion with the groom and some friends.

Chances are the newlyweds won’t be able to take a forty-five minute break from mingling with guests to share a smoke on the balcony. That doesn’t mean you should forget about a cigar altogether, but it does mean you need to be strategic when choosing a size.

This does not mean you need to know the difference between a “presidente” and a “double toro” or a “small panatela” and a “lonsdale”, but it is important to understand that the cigar length and gauges (thicknesses) of cigars are not random – it exists to give you the ability to choose a cigar that works for the time budget you’re working with.

In a social setting (a bachelor party, reception, etc.) a shorter cigar can be as one little corona (which usually come in at under five inches) will let you enjoy a luxurious cigar experience without rushing (and either making yourself sick or ruining the flavor in the process). Smaller cigars can also be good choices when you need to smoke outdoors in bitterly cold or uncomfortably hot weather. On the other hand, a setting where you have more time to kill (sitting around a campfire or at a card game) may well require a longer and/or thicker cigar.

Location is everything (and other considerations)

Make no mistake: cigars – even lighter ones – can be stinging. Even during the height of cigar popularity in ancient times, it was common practice to retire to a designated room filled with smoke-absorbing velvet furnishings. Although it should go without saying, consideration for others should be a fundamental part of your plan when you want to share cigars.

When it comes to choosing a location, the outdoors should be at the top of your list. Few places are a better venue than a backyard on a nice summer evening, and the fresh air can be great for helping new smokers from getting overwhelmed by the fumes. If you’re at a public event like an outdoor wedding, make an effort to get wind of the crowd – nothing ruins a good cigar like dirty looks from people around you (or worse, someone asking you to move somewhere else ).

Don’t be intimidated by cigar bars and lounges. Although the levels of elegance will vary from place to place, there are few places better suited to smoking cigars than a place designed for smoking cigars – and even some specialty shops will come equipped with an associated room where you can sit back and relax.

No matter where you end up smoking, the best practice is to come prepared. Too many great smoking experiences have been ruined by the sudden realization that you’ve bought great cigars but have nothing to cut them or light them with (and yes, I speak from painful experience). A halfway decent guillotine blade only costs about ten dollars (on the high end) and most tobacconists will happily throw in a set of matches for free if you ask for them at checkout.

Pay attention to that cigar smoke will get into your clothes. Yes, it comes out in the wash, but it’s still good practice to encourage your guests does not to dress in their finest when you know you’re going to smoke (especially if the ash comes off your cigar at an unfortunate time).

la aurora 115 box
La Aurora 115 Anniversary Edition

But for all these details, remember…

Cigars are meant to be enjoyed

It’s not just a warning against snobbery or gatekeeping—it’s an all-important reminder not to get too caught up in the etiquette and intricacies of building a perfect experience when your real goal is to build an enjoyable one.

You don’t bring people together to smoke cigars, you smoke cigars to bring people together – creating a time for conversation, celebration and bonding.

If a principle, trick or tip does not make the smoking experience more enjoyable for you and the people around you, then it is not something worth following.

It’s not about status. It’s not about some cheap masculinity or a facade of sophistication. It’s about feeling good, clean and clear – and sharing that time with the people around you!

What tricks and tips have you discovered to create a great cigar experience? Continue the conversation in the comments!

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