Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five best places to smoke a cigar

It is said that Winston Churchill smoked a dozen cigars a day. The long ones that now bear his moniker. That's just crazy. There's a story that he actually had the bomb bay doors of the aircraft in which he was a passenger opened to clear the smoke from the cockpit rather than stop lighting up.

I try to average no more than one cigar a day. It's fewer in the winter when smoking cigars, even with a space heater running full on in the garage, can lead to frostbite or worse. Some weekend days I'll smoke a couple, but, even the summer the average is no more than one a day. I stick to this regimen because all research indicates that such occasional cigar smoke doesn't materially change the risk of getting various illnesses.

Rationalizations aside, smoking a good cigar while sipping a good cognac or single malt can be a fine elixir for stress and strife. And so, here are the five places where I've actually burned a stick that turned out to be most memorable. (I've never been to Havana or another major cigar-tobacco growing country, and I'm sure those visits would be highlights.)

5. Walking the streets of Puerto Vallarta. If you know where to shop, you can get authentic Cubans in PV, thought it's really not necessary. Dominicans, Nicaraguans and various blends are every bit as good nowadays. In fact, the Vallarta Cigar Factory hand rolls cigars from all-Mexican tobaccos, and they're darn good. I usually buy a handful, light one up and head toward the sea promenade to watch the tourists act goofy and other various entertainments.

4. Old Town San Diego. This is just a tradition with me, begun when I smoked cigars only when on vacation. There's a fine cigar shop in Old Town, and benches all around suitable for cigar smoking and people watching. This being San Diego, the weather is almost always perfect.

3. Kells Irish Restaurant and Bar, Portland. There are several of these on the west coast, but the one in Portland is particularly nice because it has a cigar room in the basement, part of an old series of tunnels. There's a decent selection of cigars and liquors, and the basement bears the indelible and delightful scent of many years of cigar smoke.

2. Sitting on just about any beach. This can be tricky, since too much wind is not a friend to cigar smokers. Find a place with just a light breeze and a pile of driftwood for sitting and it's all good.

1. My patio. Mid-evening, mid-summer, sun is setting, lights in Idaho Falls are coming up, air is calm and warm, iPod on shuffle. Paradise.

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