The night is winding down. Your belly is full of four or five courses of gourmet cuisine, your neck begs to be released from your tie’s grip, and the cool, evening air beckons. Now’s the time to grab a few comrades, a bottle of single malt, and a box of fine cigars.
Whether you’re enjoying a black-tie affair, poker night with the boys, or the birth of a child, a cigar is a trusty companion. If someone you know considers himself a cigar aficionado, or else would like to become one, then we have the perfect gift: The Ultimate Cigar Book by Richard Carleton Hacker.
The first edition was published in 1993, and helped solidify Hacker as one of the chief authorities on the subject. The newly released 4th edition, puffed to 400 pages, truly lives up to the title. In it, you’ll find a comprehensive history of cigars, quotes from famous smokers, spirit pairing suggestions, cigar smoking etiquette, and much, much more.
I had the pleasure of reading a lengthy excerpt, and was struck by the compelling prose. The history, culture, and technique of cigar smoking are themselves fascinating, and made especially engrossing by Hacker’s personal anecdotes and wit. Below, for example, is an excerpt detailing how to properly light a cigar.
All too often a smoker fails to rotate his cigar while puffing, thus lighting only half the cigar and consequently, providing only half the enjoyment. He then smokes away in pathetic oblivion, like a man who has forgotten to zip up his fly and is wondering what everyone is staring at.
Hacker’s paragraphs billow with knowledge as a fine cigar billows with sweet-smelling smoke. As he lays out each step of the cigar-smoking process — from cutting the head to disposing of the smoldering, thoroughly enjoyed cigar — he presents several options before humbly submitting his personal preference. While there are plenty of advanced tips for the seasoned smoker, the cigar novice will find the book easy — and enjoyable — to navigate.
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