As a teenager, I recall thinking that Maxim was a magazine in tune with men: half-naked women, no articles longer than a page or two, and practical little tidbits on such gems as “How To Pick Up Strippers.”  You know, those things that every man needs to know.  It’s been quite a few years now since I last picked up a Maxim, and my wife found an offer for a free subscription, so she signed me up.  What I’ve come to realize is that I really have little to no interest in the magazine, primarily because of the short format of its articles which really leave no room to learn (or think about) anything.  I suspect it’s still appealing to adolescent boys though – for now it has become my bathroom reader, and does a fine job at that.

So that brings me to Esquire – a magazine which, at my current state in life, generally leaves me with the same feelings Maxim did in my teens.  With style advice and plenty of great (and of reasonable length) articles, it’s a great way to unwind.  However, once in a while Esquire steps into Maxim territory, featuring a much-too-short “how-to” on little things it considers manly, such as “How To Saute Vegetables.” Now, from the author of “How to Open a Beer When You Don’t Have a Bottle Opener” comes “A Beginners Guide to Cigars.”  The article would likely be quite useful for the first-time smoker, but as with any one-page how-to, details and generalities are lost.  Here are my additions/corrections.

cigar spectrum 0909 lg - Esquire’s Guide to Cigar Smoking

Firstly, how in the world they came up with this size chart is beyond me.  When did a Panatela become larger than a robusto?  I for one think robustos are a medium sized cigar, not the smallest as they suggest.  In fact I know several people who primarily smoke petit coronas or smaller. Far better is the following (although they’re still in the wrong order, at least you can see the sizes):

cigar size - Esquire’s Guide to Cigar Smoking

The author then goes on to give a list of suggested first-time smokes: Leon Jimenes Robusto ($6), the Montecristo #3 ($8), the Ashton Cabinet #6 ($9.50), and the Davidoff 5000 ($16). For special occasions, the God of Fire by Don Carlos, Robusto 2006 ($57 for three).  While I think these are all decent cigars, I am much more inclined to give the advice of “walk into your local cigar shop and ask them to recommend you something in your budget.”  I’ve been in many shops that don’t have any of the above cigars.  The author also suggests using a guillotine cutter.  While these are one of the most popular, for beginners I would probably instead recommend a punch, which is much harder to mess up.

The author then states to “Always use a wooden match or a butane lighter.”  While I roughly agree, I disagree with “always.”  Heck, many connoisseurs light their cigars with chips of spanish cedar. The author also argues against removing the band until the burn gets close to it.  I agree here is well (as this is what I do), but I know others who prefer their cigars “naked” from the first puff.

I don’t fault the author, but rather the magazine (and its readers) for finding any sort of value in these far-too-short how-to’s.  Do some research people.  Or better, get your hands dirty and learn the hard way.

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