Cigar Lounge Etiquette
There are almost as many lounges out there as there are brands. Knowing how to act and not be an assclown when you frequent a lounge is extremely important. Not only to the owners of the lounges but for the others that also frequent these lounges. Now every lounge is different and has a different feel. I've been in places that make you feel at home and that every customer is there most important. Whether you buy thousands of dollars a year from them or come in once a month and buy one cigar and smoke it there. I've also been in lounges that are very clickish and if you haven't been patronizing this lounge for 10 years then everybody gives you the hairy eyeball for a while. If you want to do something that may be a bit out of the ordinary, just ask.
There are some basic things you can do that will ensure a pleasant experience at most places. Here are some basic things to keep in mind:
Don’t be a “conversation snatcher” - If you walk into a lounge where a conversation is taking place, don’t try to change it. You can wait for an appropriate time to weigh in and participate, but there’s nothing worse than a newcomer who disrupts a discussion about politics or the economy with some unrelated remark about the Mets’ bullpen.
Mine’s better- Cigar smoking is a matter of taste – whether you prefer a Avo Campanero or a cognac-dipped novelty stick, “Real” cigar smokers may not touch the latter, but not everyone chooses to be “real.” And, why should they? Realize that people gravitate to what they like, with cigars or anything else. Leave room for those around you to enjoy what they choose.
Know your audience - When I asked the guys around me about cigar etiquette, two gave variations of “keep it clean.” Sitting down and regaling the crowd with the previous night’s sexual conquests in lurid detail, for example, may not be appropriate. If you float a controversial topic and it doesn’t resonate, let it go. Trying to force it will not work in your favor. Likewise, if you find a crowd comparing their evenings in a way that doesn’t sit well with you, realize that you’re the outsider – and that this crowd may not be the right one for you.
Talk on the phone … somewhere else - Cell phones are now a part of life. Given enough people and enough time, you’re bound to hear a few of them ring. Answering the phone isn’t a big deal, just have the decency to take your call away from the lounge. Move to the back of the store, or step outside for a minute.
Don’t tell people how to smoke - Cigar smokers have their habits – right or wrong. You’ll irritate the hell out of somebody by telling him he cuts his cigar too low, shouldn’t bite the cap or isn’t lighting his cigar appropriately. Some are open to the advice, others not. If you decide to become a cigar educator, be ready for a chilly reception.
Buy from the shop where you’re smoking - This shouldn’t even need to be said, but there’s always an element that shows no respect for the establishment. Retailers don’t have great profit margins, and when you bring a cigar into a shop from the outside, you are taking money from the store. If you like having a place to smoke, support it.
Cuban corollary - Some people think Cuban cigars don’t count, because you can’t get them at any store. If anything, smoking a Cuban in a shop is even worse than bringing in a legal cigar from outside. Since Cuban cigars are banned by law, you’re not only taking money from the store, you’re also putting all the employees at risk.
Let the staff members do their jobs - Cigar shops are social centers, and this does include the staff. You can’t help but get to know your “cigar guy,” and you’ll come to enjoy talking to him. But, when the smoke shop’s employees are with customers, unloading boxes or otherwise working, let them continue their jobs while you find your way through the maze.
Don’t become the shop’s unofficial consultant - Complainers are bad enough, but it gets even worse when the “advice” is offered from a perspective of unfounded expertise. Nobody wants to hear, “The shop would be so much better if …” It gets old. If you want to go to a shop with a television, find one. Don’t go to the same sans-TV lounge every day and gripe about the fact that there’s nothing to watch. This thinking extends to the shop’s inventory, policies on outside food and drink and lounge setup.
Have fun - If it takes a lot of work to behave – even just the basics – you should reconsider whether to leave the house in the morning. Go to your local shop, light up a cigar and enjoy. That’s why the lounge seating is available!