Cigars More Popular Than Ever
Little did Mark Twain realize when he coined the phrase, “If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go,” that it would become the battle hymn of this decade’s most vogue fashion statement—cigar smoking. It’s been hard to ignore the phenomenon.
A dormant industry up until a few years ago, cigars have made an incredible comeback. Manufacturers are reporting record sales and can’t keep up with the orders. Investors have been snatching up public offerings from cigar companies. A humidor previously owned by John F. Kennedy fetched a whopping half million dollars at an auction last year.
Why the sudden resurgence in popularity? Most industry experts attribute the growth to a number of factors. Certainly, the 1992 debut of Cigar Aficionado, an upscale magazine produced by Wine Spectator publisher Marvin Shanken, played a large part in elevating the awareness and status of cigar smoking.
It introduced a new generation of consumers to cigar events, cigar clubs, and terms like “cigar-friendly establishment.” No longer looked upon as a symbol of vulgarity or pomposity, the cigar’s association with the entertainment industry has helped propel it to downright respectability.
Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson, among others, have adorned the cover of leading magazines, brandishing their favorite “stogie.” George Hamilton successfully launched a line of cigars under the H. Upmann label, and recently opened a cigar bar in the New York, New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas bearing his name.
Even women, who in the past were derided for the practice, have developed a passion for cigars and are consuming them in record numbers. Just ask Monica Lewinsky . . .
Statistics aside, what is it about cigars that makes them so darned appealing? Quite frankly, they taste good. Like a fine wine, the flavour characteristics vary from cigar to cigar, and even within a particular brand.
Cigars can range from smooth and creamy in flavor, all the way up to spicy and peppery, as with Cuban cigars. And quite frankly, there is simply no better way to finish a meal than by enjoying a fine cigar with a glass of cognac or port.
The aura, the ritual of cigar smoking has created a whole new setting for social interaction. It is quite common today for strangers to begin a conversation by sharing thoughts about the brand of cigars they’re enjoying.
It is not surprising, therefore, that cigar bars have been opening up across the country in astonishing numbers. In years past, one would simply purchase a cigar for home consumption.
Nowadays, cigar lounges with names like Club Macanudo, The Cuba Club, and The Grand Havana Room are catering to young professionals who can enjoy the comforts in a living room-type setting, but with cocktail service, big screen tv, and even the rental of private humidor lockers.