Your Complete Guide to Cigar Etiquette

Your Complete Guide to Cigar Etiquette

May 3 2024

Your Complete Guide to Cigar Etiquette

There are many reasons people smoke cigars. For some, it's a traditional practice with deep-rooted significance and rituals. For others, it's a way to unwind, destress and enjoy a moment of relaxation. Whatever the reason, all cigar enthusiasts enjoy collecting different types of cigars and learning about the craftsmanship and history behind them.

Cigars are often associated with special occasions and celebrations, but they're also a means of connection. Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or a newcomer eager to learn the ropes, understanding the nuances of cigar etiquette can enhance your enjoyment and demonstrate your respect for the craft of cigar smoking. In this guide, we'll teach you the proper way to smoke a cigar and the social aspects associated with this age-old tradition. Enjoy your cigar in a technically correct and socially appropriate way, and foster a sense of camaraderie with other cigar enthusiasts.

Tools of the Trade

Cigars are considered classy because of the great skill and experience that goes into constructing them. Premium cigars contain carefully selected tobacco blends that give off terrific aromas. It just makes sense to use the proper tools so that you can really enjoy your cigars to their fullest potential.

Anyone who's a proper cigar hobbyist possesses the following tools and accessories.

Cigar Cutter

The cigar cutter is an essential tool to snip the cap — the piece of leaf placed at the head of the cigar to close it — off your cigar cleanly. You'll find three main types of cutters:

  • Straight cutter: Also known as a guillotine, the straight cutter is the most common type, as it offers the smoothest and easiest draw for most ring gauges.
  • Punch cutter: This cutter has a circular blade that removes only the center of the cap, which results in a more intense draw.
  • V-cutter: A V-cutter, or wedge cutter, cuts a precise V-shape from the cap of smaller ring gauge cigars.


There's no comparison between lighting a cigar and a cigarette. You could use a soft flame lighter, but they are challenging to use outdoors in windy weather. Cigar lighters contain single, double or triple jet flames with increased wind resistance. Invest in a quality butane lighter for an even burn without altering the taste of your cigar.


A designated cigar ashtray keeps your smoking area tidy and prevents ash from making a mess. A good ashtray is deep enough to collect ash and should have a sturdy rest where you can set your cigar down. Cigar ashtrays come in a variety of materials, so choose one that complements your style.


A humidor is a special box or container designed to store and protect cigars. They come in different sizes and are equipped with a humidification system to maintain a specific level of humidity to preserve the quality and flavor of cigars. Without one, cigars may dry out or become too moist.

Cigar Case

A cigar case holds three or four cigars for when you're out and about. Unlike a humidor, which is designed for long-term storage, cigar cases keep cigars safe from crushing or degradation so you can enjoy and share them with others.

Selecting and Preparing Cigars

Selecting and preparing cigars involves choosing a cigar that suits your preferences, the occasion and the environment. Inspect the cigar for any visible flaws before preparing it. This, along with cutting and lighting it properly, will enhance your enjoyment and give you a pleasant smoking experience.

1. Choose the Right Cigar for the Occasion

When selecting a cigar, consider the following factors:

  • Size: The size is measured by the length and ring gauge, which is the diameter of a cigar in 64ths of an inch. Smaller cigars burn faster, making them ideal when you're short on time.
  • Shape: Cigars come in many shapes, from the classic cylindrical shape to the more unusual torpedo and pyramid shapes. A cigar's appearance can affect its flavor and draw.
  • Flavor: Cigar flavors vary depending on the type of tobacco and leaf wrapper used and the aging process. Common flavors include woody, spicy, sweet, earthy, peppery and citrusy.
  • Strength: The strength ranges from mild to full-bodied, indicating the intensity of the flavor and amount of nicotine. Thicker cigars are often milder than thinner cigars. As you get more experience, you'll likely try stronger and more robust types.
  • Occasion: If you're celebrating a special event, try a premium cigar. For more relaxed social settings, you may prefer a more medium-bodied type.
  • Time of day: Stronger cigars are ideal for evenings, while lighter cigars are more appropriate for that early morning smoke.
  • Company: Light-bodied cigars emit lighter fragrances, making them ideal for larger gatherings.

2. Cut Your Cigar With the Right Tools

Before you start smoking, you need to cut the cap to create an opening. Use a cigar cutter to make a clean cut just above the shoulder of the cigar so you can ensure a good draw. Less is more when it comes to cutting cigars. If you cut too far in, the wrapper leaf may loosen and drop some tobacco.

Using other sharp tools or your teeth to remove the cap may damage the cigar. In addition to looking like an amateur, you'll lose tobacco, and the cigar will not burn as evenly.

3. Light Your Cigar the Right Way

Here are a few techniques for lighting your cigar and some common mistakes to avoid.

  • Use a cigar lighter, match or cedar spill — candles will ruin the aroma.
  • Unless you're using a match, light the cigar in your hand and not your mouth so you can see what you're doing.
  • Hold the flame slightly away and rotate the cigar to ensure an even burn.
  • Take your time and avoid scorching the foot of the cigar — eventually, the foot will glow an orange-red color.
  • Blow gently on the foot to distribute the heat evenly.
  • Never put the cigar in your mouth to relight it.

Smoking Etiquette

Cigar-smoking etiquette has developed over the years. It comprises everything about how to smoke cigars, from the proper way to hold a cigar and savor the experience to social rules and traditions. Here are some tips to help you through the do's and don'ts of smoking etiquette:

  • Bring your own cigar cutter and lighter: Lighting and cutting a cigar is a personal experience. However, most cigar smokers will lend you their lighter as long as you return it promptly.
  • Bring enough cigars to share: Depending on the occasion or the people you'll meet, make sure to bring a few extra cigars. Offering a fellow enthusiast a cigar is a gesture of camaraderie and friendship. Always extend the offer with the open end facing the recipient.
  • Hold it properly: We hold onto things without giving it much thought, including cigars. Whether you're left- or right-handed or have a preference to hold a cigar between the index and middle finger or index and thumb, your cigar pose is up to you. As long as you're not spraying ashes around the room or burning a hole in someone's favorite jacket, hold it in a way that's comfortable to you.
  • Take your time: Immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas, and take pleasure in the journey while enjoying the presence of your favorite people. Don't inhale the smoke — you'll only taste a fraction if you smoke into your lungs like a cigarette.
  • Ash your cigar gently: Allow the ash to form naturally and gently tap it off in an ashtray to prevent it from falling on your clothes, table or floor.
  • Enjoy cigars without the dip: Avoid the temptation of dipping your cigar in your beverage. It adds ash to your drink but no extra flavor to your cigar. Plus, too much moisture can plug your cigar's draw. Premium infused cigars are available and deliver enough flavor by themselves.
  • Put your cigar out responsibly: You don't need to stub out your cigar like a cigarette. Doing so creates a mess and releases a strong smell. Instead, place your lit cigar on the edge of an ashtray, and it will go out on its own.

Cigar Pairing Best Practices

Cigars can be paired with complementary beverages or food to enhance the overall experience. When pairing cigars, consider the flavors that harmonize or contrast with the cigar's taste to create a balanced combination.

If you're a beginner, start by pairing lighter drinks with lighter cigars and work your way up to stronger drinks with full-bodied cigars. Common cigar pairings include:

  • Whiskey: Strong whiskeys complement strong cigars, while Irish whiskeys pair well with medium-bodied cigars. Stick with the rich-flavored kind, as smokey whiskeys can overwhelm the tastebuds along with cigars.
  • Brown spirits: Those who prefer more entry-level brown spirit pairings may enjoy rum, cognac or brandy. Your cigar's smokiness will create a blissful experience with the sweetness of these alcoholic beverages.
  • Wine and prosecco: Strong cigars tend to pair well with red wine blends, while mild and light-bodied cigars pair well with white wine and prosecco. If you order a bottle of Champagne for the table, it's best to enjoy a glass between cigars due to their acidity levels.
  • Fortified wine: Because port, sherry and Madeira have complicated flavor profiles, the sweeter varieties are the only pairings that will work with cigars.
  • Clear spirits: Vodka and gin with lower flavor profiles will allow you to enjoy your cigar more. Tequila is less common but an equally successful pairing with rich and bold-flavored cigars — without the lemon and salt.
  • Coffee and chocolate: Bitter, dark coffee roasts balance well with sweet but strong cigars. If you're a bigger fan of mocha or hot chocolate, try them with spicier cigars to even out the sweetness.
  • Tea: Black tea pairs well with robust blended cigars to enhance earthy and chocolate aromas. Light-bodied cigars will reveal the floral flavors of green and mild oolong tea.
  • Beer: Cigar and beer combinations make for great summertime pairings. The darker the beer and higher the malt content, the stronger your cigar should be, preferably with a spicy aroma.
  • Cocktail: You need an affinity for more traditional pairings before knowing which cocktails will work with which cigars. Stick with the classics, such as Manhattans, with brown or white spirits that pair well with strong, spicy cigars.
  • Cold drinks: Cola or ginger ale on the rocks complement different cigar flavors, but other soft drinks can strongly affect a cigar's taste.
  • Water: Considered the ideal drink, still water never interferes with a cigar's flavor and acts as a palette neutralizer.

Remember that personal preference plays a significant role, so explore and find combinations that suit your taste.

Cigar Storage and Care

It's important to know how to care for and store cigars properly to maintain their quality. Follow these storage and care tips to enjoy your cigars for a long time:

  • New cigars: If you're planning to buy a cigar pack or two, store them in a humidor to maintain the proper humidity and temperature. Store the humidor in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Rotate your cigars periodically to ensure even aging.
  • Half-smoked cigars: No one wants to throw away a good cigar smoked only halfway. Let it go out naturally and cut off the ash. Then, store it in a resealable bag for no more than a day. If you store it anywhere else, including your humidor, the half-finished cigar will overwhelm the area with a pungent aroma — and taint your other cigars.
  • Dry cigars: If a cigar feels brittle and crumbly, it's likely dried out. A dry cigar will burn quickly and unevenly and literally leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth due to the loss of essential oils. Provided the wrapper isn't too cracked or split, a dry cigar can be rehydrated by placing it in a humidor and turning it every few days for a couple of weeks.

FAQ: Cigar Etiquette

For those who are avid researchers, we answered a few more commonly asked questions.

How Often Should You Puff a Cigar?

A good rule of thumb is around one puff per minute. Drawing too often can lead to overheating, thereby leaving a taste of bitterness. Cigar smoking isn't a rushed exercise — it's about appreciating the full-bodied taste and aromas.

Do You Hold a Cigar With Your Teeth or Lips?

Ideally, you shouldn't hold a cigar with your mouth. However, if you need both your hands, hold the cigar gently in your mouth with your teeth. Try not to bite down too hard, as it could crack the wrapper leaf.

What Should You Eat Before Smoking a Cigar?

You can eat anything, from chicken or beef to a spicy feast and even dessert, as long as you eat something before a smoke. This will allow you to enjoy your cigar much more without feeling queasy in the middle of a smoke.

Create a Unique Smoking Experience With Corona Cigar Company

For those who appreciate the finer things in life and value the art of cigar smoking, Corona Cigar Co. provides products that promise an unparalleled experience. Our cigars are meticulously crafted using premium tobacco blends, ensuring a rich and flavorful smoking experience for both the novice and experienced cigar enthusiast.

Browse our large selection of cigar brands, instruments and accessories to apply cigar etiquette to your own smoking enjoyment.