Are your lips curious to puff on an imported cigar and take in the exotic flavors? If so, you are in good company. There are many trustworthy and notable San Diego cigar shops, bars and lounges to choose from that any novice or seasoned cigar lover will enjoy.
Indulge in a complex and bold Nicaraguan blend or a sweet and spicy Mexican selection. The question is, when you face a humidor that holds imported and domestic grown varieties, would you know how to pick out your perfect cigar from the bunch?
Cigars have become a multi-million dollar industry with endless possibilities – there's something for everyone. The flavors can range from very mild, mild, medium and bold flavors. Do a little research to get the best out of your experience because after all, cigars are made to be enjoyed.
Understanding the basic structure of a cigar is crucial to finding the right one to smoke. The most basic part is the wrapper, a single tobacco leaf, which determines the overall flavor depending on how the leaf was grown. A light colored wrapper "Claro" is a tobacco leaf that was partly grown in the shade and has a mild flavor.
The tan colored "Maduro" and "Oscuro" are darker in color because they were exposed more to the sun and release more oil, sugar and bold flavors. Other common colors include Double Claro (light green/mild), Natural (brown/medium), Colorado (red/robust) and Colorado Maduro (dark brown/fragrant). Under the wrapper is the filler, which is usually made up of different types of tobacco that give the cigar an advanced flavor. Mexican varieties are the exception and are usually made from one type of tobacco.
"Start with a mild flavor and work your way up," says Tobacconist Eddie Toma of Excalibur Cigar Lounge. "That's the best way to build your taste for first-timers."
First-timers should also keep in mind how long they want their cigar to last. The diameter of the cigar (ring size) and length will determine if you're cigar will smoke like a train or give off a faint cloud. The larger the diameter of the cigar, the more advanced the flavor. Typically, each smoke shop or bar will have its own standard size ranking and will ask customers how much time they have to smoke. Puff time can range from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the preference of the smoker.
The region where the tobacco was grown can determine the flavors of the cigar. Unfortunately, Cuban cigars are illegal in the Unites States, but other full-bodied flavors that are similar come from Mexico and Nicaragua. Cuban seed has made its way to the Dominican Republic and has become a high quality blend. Ecuadorian and Jamaican options are usually milder.
Also mild, flavored cigars have become a delicious option for smokers who want to try an alternative. Flavors like margarita, cognac, chocolate, latte and strawberry are readily available and are popular with both women and men.
In any case, trust a local tobacconist to guide you through the flavors of tobacco. A tobacconist usually knows the most of the brands and how they smoke. Phil Hoffman from Hoffer's Cigar Bar says he crafts the cigar choice to an individual's likes. "We take into account three things: how the cigar looks, how it's rolled and how it's smoked. That way, we can make a good match," he says.
Finding a good cigar can stimulate your palate and your other senses. Pair that same cigar with your drink of choice and you'll be in heaven. So, take a trip down to a cigar shop or lounge/bar to uncover new flavors and unwind – your mini-vacation awaits you.
Discover a few of these local San Diego cigar shops and lounges and take your next puff.
Churchill Cigar Lounge in Old Town
Churchill Cigar Lounge is a hang out for old schoolers who love a good cigar in a classic cigar bar atmosphere. A cool feature at Churchill is its mahogany wood lockers that keep cigars fresh and at their finest. For a fee, rent a wood locker for your Rocky Patels and Romeo and Juliets. Enjoy exclusive Churchill Club benefits and specials and feel like royalty. For more information, visit Churchillcigarlounge.com.
Tabac Specialty Coffee and Cigars in the Gaslamp Quarter
The atmosphere at Tabac is young and sophisticated, with fine cigars, gourmet coffee and hookahs. On the menu are the best quality Gran Havana cigars in several varieties from Habanero to Magnum Cognac. Pair your choice with an espresso, vanilla mint freeze or café mocha. Try its milk chocolate caramel torte and other specialty desserts made with organic ingredients. For more information, visit Tabacsd.com.
Excalibur Cigar and Wine Lounge in Miramar
Owner Eddie Toma opened up his cigar lounge seven years ago with one thought in mind – relaxation. Sit back and chill on a leather couch, watch TV on multiple plasma screens and enjoy an Ashton Maduro, or two, in peace. Excalibur has one of the largest humidors in the county and holds more than 70 different types of cigars. Take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and hold your next meeting in a relaxing environment. For more information, visit Excaliburcigarclub.com.
Hoffer's Cigar Bar in La Mesa
Stay classy with a boutique cigar, a glass of port wine and a live jazz performance from Grammy nominated artists. What could be better? Hoffer's has boutique brands and limited edition cigars that are hard to find. Pair one with a pint of beer from Hoffer's bar, offering 24 brews on tap. For more information, visit Hofferscigar.com.
Liberty Tobacco in Kearney Mesa
One of the oldest smokeshops in the county, Liberty has grown a following with locals and the county's leading hotels, golf courses and restaurants. Since 1975, it has grown from a shop to a large smoke lounge complete with a patio. Want a special twist at your next party? Rent Liberty's cigar bar service and treat your friends to the best in imported, premium cigars. For more information, visit Libertytobacco.com.
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