Smoking a cigar is a great way to unwind or celebrate a special occasion. Before you smoke a cigar, you have to know how to choose the right kind, cut the cigar, and light the cigar. Lighting a cigar is all about savoring the flavor instead of inhaling the smoke. If you want to know how to smoke a cigar like a pro in no time at all, just follow these steps.

Choose the Cigar

Familiarize yourself with the varieties of cigars. Instead of choosing the first cigar you’ll see, you should know how to recognize each different type of cigar, and even ask a salesman for help when you’re deciding on a type of cigar. Being aware of the different types of cigars will make you feel more knowledgeable when you actually start smoking them. There is a variety of cigars to choose from.

  • Corona. This cigar measures 6 inches (15.2 cm) by 42-ring gauge — this refers to the diameter of the cigar. This cigar has an open foot (the part that is lit) and a closed and rounded head (the part that you smoke).
  • Pyramid. This cigar has a pointed, closed head.
  • Torpedo. This cigar has a bulge in the middle and a pointed head and closed foot.
  • The Perfecto. This is like the Torpedo, except it has a bulge in the middle and two closed ends, making it a rounded cigar.
  • Panatela. This cigar measures 7 inches (17.8 cm) by 38-ring gauge and is longer and thinner than the Corona.
  • Culebra. This cigar is made of three Panatellas braided together. It looks like a thick rope.

Inspect the cigar. Before you buy the cigar, you should gently squeeze it to make sure that there aren’t any spots that are too hard or too soft. This may indicate that the cigar will give you a bad draw or that it won’t even be smokable. You should also look out for lumps in the cigar, and make sure that the tobacco at the end isn’t discolored, and that the wrapper isn’t discolored either.

Store the cigar appropriately. If you own or have purchased a humidor, a box for storing cigars, then make sure to store them in the box immediately. If you don’t own one, then don’t buy more than a few cigars because they will dry out in a couple of days. Do not take them out of their cellophane packing either. Don’t leave a cigar unprotected. Store them in Tupperware or another sealed container.

Cut the Cigar

Place the blade down on the cigar. To cut the cigar, you’ll have to cut into the cap, which is placed on the head of the cigar to keep it from drying out. Ideally, you’ll be using a guillotine (a single-bladed cutter), but you can also use a really sharp knife or blade. Don’t use dull scissors, your teeth, or a butter knife unless you want to tear the cigar. Just tap the head (or the cap) of the cigar with the blade to put it in position. Don’t cut into it yet.

  • Aim the blade to the place where the cigar meets the wrapper, which would keep the cap from falling off.

Cut the cigar with one “chop.” The goal in cutting it is to let yourself smoke the cigar without ruining its original shape. Hold the cigar with one hand and the guillotine with the other. Place the head of the cigar into the guillotine and cut into its cap, about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch (.15 to .3 cm) down. Slice off the cap (or head) in one quick chop.

  • If you do it more slowly or tentatively, you’ll be more likely to tear the wrapper.

Light the Cigar

Choose the right lighter. Long wood matches or a butane lighter are preferable because they won’t alter the flavor of the cigar. Don’t use paper matches, gas lighters, or — worst of all — scented candles. You can also get a cigar lighter at the store.

Warm the tobacco in the foot of the cigar. The foot of the cigar is the part you’ll actually light. Hold the flame below the foot without touching it, and rotate the cigar a few times until the foot is evenly warmed. This will warm up your tobacco and make it easier to light.

Light the cigar. Hold the flame in front of the cigar without touching it. Then, inhale just enough so that the cigar is lit. Make sure not to inhale the smoke.

Lightly blow on the foot of the cigar (optional). You can do this to make sure that the light is evenly distributed. To check if the cigar is fully lit, turn the lit end towards your mouth and gently blow on it; the lit portions will light up orange.

Smoke the Cigar

Smoke it. Hold the cigar up to your mouth and draw in the smoke. Then, hold it in your mouth for a few seconds to taste it, and then let it go. Do not inhale the cigar smoke. A cigar is not like a cigarette. The flavor is meant to be savored, but not inhaled.

Puff and rotate the cigar every 30 seconds to a minute. Continue to do this to keep the cigar in good form. Remember that a good cigar can last 2 to 3 hours.

Remove the band after twelve puffs or so. The band is placed on the cigar to prevent the tobacco from tearing, but you won’t need it anymore once you lit the cigar. After twelve or so puffs, the band will already be starting to fall off on its own due to the heat.

Enjoy your cigar with an alcoholic beverage. Though you’re not required to enjoy your cigar with an alcoholic beverage, an alcoholic beverage can enhance the smoking experience and can bring out the flavors of the cigar. Some great beverages for smoking a cigar include port, cognac, bourbon or scotch, or red wine — especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • A coffee-based beverage — or even coffee — can also bring out the flavor in a cigar.
  • Though a cigar can overpower the flavor of many beers, an India Pale Ale (IPA) beer is a perfect companion to almost any cigar.
  • Any drink that involves Kahlua will be a great companion to a cigar.
  • You can also enjoy your cigar with a Martini.

Extinguish the cigar when you’re done smoking. Simply set it aside in the ashtray. The cigar will extinguish itself after a minute or two without you puffing on it. Before you set it down, gently blow through the cigar to expel any smoke that will go stale. Relighting a cigar after this period has passed generally results in a strong, bitter taste; as a result, most aficionados prefer to throw out a smoked cigar.