A Constellation of Cuban Cigars With Style – Part 1

Panetellas, stogies, coronas, and Cohibas. These are just some of the names associated with the powerful and captivating cigar. Whenever I think of Cuba and its symbols, I always think of Habanos. It’s no coincidence that the famous Cuban cigar gets its name from the City of Havana also spelled as Habana in Spanish. The cigar is known to be present in celebrations and high-profile gatherings, always as a symbol of class. It has also been associated with notables through history and several celebrities in more current times. Follow me on this tour of cigars through history and time!

Origins

The origin of the Cuban cigar dates to the times of Christopher Columbus and the conquistadores in the 1400s. When Columbus arrived in the Island of Cuba, he was said to have experienced his first taste of the earlier form of a cigar. Early cigars consisted of rolled tobacco leaves and were called cohibas by the island’s natives. Columbus has been credited with introducing tobacco to Europe.

From olden times to modern times, for those of us who are TV and film buffs, who can forget the first episode of the famous TV show Sex & The City. During the episode, Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, smokes a cigar and tries to “put the moves” on Mr. Big, played by the very handsome Chris Noth. He immediately tells her that he only smokes Cohibas.

The word Cohiba has Taíno roots, originated by the Tainos who inhabited the Caribbean during the times of the settlement. Cohiba is now a synonym around the world of the premium and well-known brand of Cohiba Cigars. The history of this brand dates back to the 60s when Cohibas were created in Cuba to represent the finest cigars. They were widely used for diplomatic purposes. Cohibas are often described as a luxury brand and offer those who prefer it an exclusive cigar experience. Other famous Cuban cigar brands are Montecristo, Partagas, and Romeo y Julieta, among others.

Habanos

Cigar Shapes & Sizes

Just as with fine wine, there are many varietals of cigar brands, shapes, and sizes. The International Habano Festival offers a quick reference guide that is helpful to understand the different kinds. As mentioned in the guide, Cubans refer to the size of the cigar as vitolas. The vitolas can significantly vary in taste, burn time, and length. Some of the most well-known sizes and characteristics are:

Mareva – Considered the most popular size.

Corona – Recommended to “crown” an event or for moments of thoughtful contemplation.

Laguito No. 1 – Also known for their slender and elegant shape as Lancero, they hail from Havana’s El Laguito Factory.

Cañonazo – Also, known as Siglo VI, these are considered the best shape and size for a Habano.

Petit Edmundo – Popularly known by the same name, these cigars are shorter in length and provide the full experience, but in a shorter amount of time.

Edmundo – This cigar is known for its more full girth and good flavor. It takes under an hour to consume.

Julieta No. 2 – From the Romeo y Julieta factory, this cigar can be consumed for over an hour. It was rumored to be similar in size to those cigars favored by Winston Churchill.

Prominente – An excess of an hour is required to smoke this gentle to start cigar, also known as Doble Corona, whose flavor builds over time.

Robusto – This is another type of more concise cigar liked by connoisseurs for the experience it offers in under an hour of burn time.

Pirámide – Also known as Torpedo, this cigar is known to offer advantages noticeable to experienced smokers due to its shape.

Exquisito – Also known as a doble figurado, it was considered to be the original Habano shape. Now, however, this shape is only found in Cuaba Habanos.

Perla – Also known as the Tres Petit Corona (TPC), it is also part of the more compact group of Habanos that offer a great taste to enjoy in under 30 minutes.

Laguito No. 3 – 15 minutes are just about enough to enjoy this cigar, perfect for short breaks.

Habano

Cigar Flavors

Variety is the spice of life. While wider vitolas are known to offer a more robust flavor, thinner vitolas offer a sharper taste and shorter burn times. Cigars provide a variety of flavors, ranging from full (Stronger) to light (Crisper). As shared by the Festival del Habano, some examples of these variations include Cohibas, which offer Full, Medium to Full, and Medium categories. Also, Partagás, offering flavor in the Full category.

The Montecristo also offers flavors in the Medium to Full and Medium Categories along with the Romeo y Julieta in the Medium category. These brands can all be found around the world. We should also note the Medium to Full flavored Cuabas, considered a Specialty brand, amongst others.

Cigars & Lifestyle

Cigars have long been associated with success. They are a symbol of wealth, class, and being part of an exclusive group that has access to this status symbol. Cigars have also been associated with words such as expensive and imported. In some cultures, such as the Cuban, cigars are passed by new dads to celebrate the birth of children, but also to announce that a couple is expecting. Cigars are widely used in celebrations. I personally witnessed cigars being gifted during corporate holiday events and then lit in unison by several guests, some even non-smokers, to celebrate a successful year.

Celebrities Enjoy Cigars Too

Many stars have been known to enjoy a good cigar. Images of Sylvester Stallone, Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Selleck, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Rihanna have been shared widely across the media as they enjoy their cigars. Some during times of leisure, others during short interludes, but always with flair and personality. We can also remember George Burns, who lived to 100. He was often featured with a signature cigar in many of his portraits and enjoyed his cigars throughout his life. Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and even Freud have also been credited with being cigar aficionados through history.

Cigars In Film

Cigars are synonyms of empowerment and accomplishment. Some iconic movie moments are also remembered for the presence of cigars. Who can forget Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather enjoying a cigar? Some scenes that still resonate today are from Independence Day, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum smoking cigars after their defeat of alien invaders on the Fourth of July. We can also remember the poster for the movie The First Wives Club, featuring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton powerfully holding their cigars after overcoming their marital hurdles.

Beginner’s Guide to Light a Cigar

Habanos

For those of us who are cigar novices, it’s interesting to learn the almost ceremonial and contemplative aspect of smoking a cigar. Connoisseurs will tell you that you need to trim the cigar, that only special techniques should be employed to light the cigar, and that certain angles should be used to get the best flavor. To understand it in simple terms, let’s look at a brief 101 to light a cigar.

Before lighting a cigar for the first time, it needs to be cut by a sharp device sometimes called a clipper but guillotines, scissors and other sharp objects like knives (not recommended) can be used. When opening a wrapped cigar, you will notice that there is a piece or cap that has been attached to seal the cigar. That is the piece that you will be trimming. The cap is sharply cut to ensure that the cigar doesn’t lose its shape and provides a smooth flavor.

Next, we discuss how to light the cigar. The way to light a cigar can be very involved. However, the best recommendation is to place the tip above the flame, turning it to burn evenly. Only now the cigar is ready to take the first taste and “puff.” The smoke from the cigar should not be inhaled, as it can cause coughing. This is an excellent warning for those of us who are not experts. The time to smoke a full cigar may also vary from half to two hours.

Habano

Cigar Festival & Tours

To have the most up close and personal experience with cigars or if you have a loved one who happens to be an aficionado or connoisseur, prepare your bags and plan to visit Cuba and attend the 21st Annual Festival del Habano in Cuba. With the upcoming festival, hundreds are expected to visit Cuba for leisure and business purposes. The event annually hosts a diverse group of guests, from merchants, sellers, and buyers, to aficionados and sometimes even celebrities.

The booking experience to travel to Cuba can be very easy when working with an experienced Cuba travel service such as OnCuba Travel. They take the guesswork out of what you need to travel to Cuba and where to go in Cuba and offer special excursions such as the Cuban Rum, Cigars, and Art Tour to experience some of these authentic Cuban flavors, skilled artists, and artisans. They also offer an immersive five-day Cigar and Rum Tour, with multiple curated experiences for the discerning traveler or cigar and rum lover. It is a great time to travel to Cuba from the USA. Cuba is back!

Habanos

Also Introducing: Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars Havana Takeover – Cigar Tour

The ladies of Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars have partnered with OnCuba Travel to curate a travel experience worthy of the most indulgent cigar aficionado. Join the twins as they embark on an exploration of Cuba’s tobacco region, soak up the sights and sounds of Old Havana, discover treasures inside Cuban cigar shops and factories, sip Cuba’s finest rum, and enjoy the famous authentic Cuban cuisine

Don’t miss this opportunity!

Save the tour date: February 21-25, 2019

***By booking the Cigar & Rum Tour with OnCuba Travel, cigar aficionados will enjoy complete access to The 2019 Habanos Festival for one day.***

Habanos

On Our Next Blog

Check back with us next week as we continue the flavor tour with the elegant cigar. In our next blog, we will go over delicious pairings of cigars with different drinks and liquors, as well as with some meats and other fine foods to enjoy together. Continue with us on the journey to explore the world of fine cigars and the experiences they offer!

Cigar

The Essential Guide To Enjoy Food Like A Cuban

As I shared in a previous blog, Visit Smokin’ Hot Cuba in 2019, one of the best ways to experience the culture of a new city or country is through its cuisine. Due mainly to its history and location, Cuban cuisine combines Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences which come together to create several of the flavorful and spirited dishes that Cuba is famous for. Some examples are the lechón asado and the congrí. In this blog, I have prepared The Essential Guide To Enjoy Food Like A Cuban to entice you and sharpen your palate to the traditional dishes and flavors that are part of the Cuban table. Now prepare your knife, your fork, and your senses to let this journey begin.


  1. Cuban flan

    Lechón asado, please. Pork has traditionally been a part of the Cuban table. It is a staple of holiday celebrations such as Christmas and other events throughout the year. A cooking tool called La Caja China or Chinese Box is often used to prepare the pork. It is used to make mouthwatering roast pork with moist meat on the inside, yet crunchy skin on the outside. The original Caja China involves a wooden box often used to roast pork, chicken, and other meats. Metal is now used to make more modern Chinese boxes. A simple side of salad with lettuce, tomato, and onion salad with a little vinegar and olive oil often accompanies the pork. Another favorite side dish is the good old Cuban congrí.

  2. Rice and beans congrí. I grew up eating some of the best homemade congrí a person could have. As part of a large Cuban-American family, I learned early on that every chef has his or her signature recipe. This dish is prepared with red or black beans, depending on the region where the cook is from or according to personal preference. First, the beans are set to boil and then left to simmer. Next, they are combined with a blend of spices and onions to add flavor. Congrí may sometimes have a splash of wine and even bacon, which gives it a smoky taste. Once the beans are soft, the rice is added and cooked over low heat until the excess moisture is absorbed. The resulting dish is classic comfort food, often enjoyed at many types of meals.
  3. Yuca con mojo. One of my go-to recipes from Cuban Cuisine has to be the yuca con mojo. Yuca, the root portion of the cassava plant, is a potato-like starch that grows through Central and South American Regions. There are many options for preparation, including fried, pureed, or boiled. The yucas with mojo are often cut in chunks, then cooked, and served tender to the bite. The secret sauce and the star in this dish is the mojo sauce. Argentinians have chimichurri, while Cubans have the mojo. Mojo is a sauce with multiple uses, such as a marinade, rice topping, bread dip, and of course, served with yuca. The mojo sauce also varies by the chef. The basic recipe involves olive oil, garlic, orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Some of my favorite mojos also have roasted garlic bits, which gives them that little extra crunch and a fantastic flavor. Some versions of this dish may also have sliced onions.

  4. Cuban flan

    Have a sweet ending with flan. The traditional Cuban Flan is a melt-in-your-mouth custard with simple ingredients such as eggs, sugar, milk, and caramel. There are many ways to prepare a flan. Some recipes may include condensed milk and even cream cheese, which gives the flan an added thickness. Making the caramel coating right is an art. It starts with the right balance of sugar and water over a heated pan. The mixture will surely burn if left too long in the saucepan. The caramel can also become watery if it removed too quickly from the heat — the right point results in a crystallized and even layer of caramel along the base and sides of the pan. Variations of the flan may include pumpkin and coconut, as well as other flavors and ingredients. However, the traditional flan (my favorite) has a hint of vanilla and a generous serving of caramel brittle with its sauce.


  5. Coffee

    Cafecito, the Cuban way. For many Cubans, coffee is a 24-hour and social affair. Coffee can be present during breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even before bedtime. It is at the center of most social interactions, and it is a custom to offer guests coffee. There are many variations to the Cafecito, and we are sure to find the one that’s right for your taste! At home, Cubans often make coffee using a stove-top metal cafetera or coffee maker. Later in the blog, we will explore Cuban Coffee and the different tools in-depth. For now, let’s review a rundown of the essential ways in which Cubans like to drink their coffee. First, we have the café con leche. This is a similar concept to what some may know as a latte, a mix of coffee with hot milk. Next, we have the cortadito – a must of the Cuban culture. Espresso and steamed milk make up this type of coffee. The big brother to the cortadito is the colada. This drink is the espresso served in a larger cup along with smaller cups for sharing. You will often see a  colleague or friend walking around with a tray full of smaller cups of cortadito to share. Finally, we have the colada. This coffee style will also be your sugar fix for the 3 p.m. afternoon pick me up! The colada consists of a nice sugary foam, made by whipping sugar and a splash of coffee together until it forms a thick paste, similar in texture to beaten egg whites. The rest of the coffee is then mixed with the foam and served to enjoy.

  6. Mojito
    Celebrate with a Mojito or Daiquiri. When it comes to drinks, Cuba has been a melting pot. It has people wondering what the secret recipe is for cocktails such as the Mojito and the Daiquiri. The island is said to be the birthplace for both drinks. The Mojito recipe combines white rum with sugar and lime, poured over muddled mint leaves, and served in a tall glass, often with a stick of sugarcane with mint leaves to garnish and ice. A very refreshing cocktail! Next, the Mojito’s cousin, the Daiquiri. The basic mix includes lime juice, rum, and sugar. The name of the drink, Daiquirí, also shares its name with a beach and an iron mine located close to Santiago de Cuba. Rum plays a significant role in the Cuban culture. A tour such as the Cuban Rum, Cigars, and Art tour is a great way to understand the history of rum on the island. Both the Mojito and the Daiquirí are quite famous drinks around the globe!
    Daiquirí

Enjoying the Cuban Culinary Experience

Cooking, for Cubans, is a social and family affair. Every generation inherits recipes, cooking techniques, and secret ingredients for family recipes. One great way to experience what it’s like to prepare food with Cubans when you travel to Cuba while learning some of the tips and tricks behind their most famous recipes, could be through Cuba travel packages, such as How to Make A Cuban Mojito and Ajiaco? Cooking Tour. This tour offers a hands-on guided cooking experience which results in a feast for all to enjoy. You may also try the Mediterraneo Habana: A Farm to Table Tour to get a taste of locally sourced juices, cheeses, and more in their natural place of origin. These and many other curated excursions are offered by the OnCuba Travel agency, which provides services to travel to Cuba from the USA and other international points of departure. They can also help you with the requirements to go to Cuba. Therefore, making the experience easy for the solo traveler or group.

Coming up next in February

In February, Cuba will be hosting its 21st annual Cigar Festival. It’s an exciting time for a Cuba vacation for cigar aficionados and travelers alike. The festival will run from February 26th to March 2nd, 2019. The City of Havana will host the festival. It is a unique event with top quality cigars and experiences. These include the International Fair at Havana’s Convention Palace, tours of cigar factories and plantations, curated cigar tastings, cigar rolling seminars, and previews of new products amongst other highlights. The festival closes with a dinner gala and auction to raise funds for the Cuban Public Health Service.

Global merchants, producers, businesspeople, celebrities and cigar aficionados frequent the event every year. The festival also offers the rare opportunity to try different Habanos produced exclusively for this event. Before returning, you can also stop at cigar shops in Cuba and take some of the world’s most celebrated cigars with you for personal use. Follow our blog to learn more about Cuba’s famous cigars and how you can make the most out of your upcoming visit to the island.

Introducing Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars
Havana Takeover – Cigar Tour

Habanos

The ladies of Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars have partnered with OnCuba Travel to curate a travel experience worthy of the most indulgent cigar aficionado. Join the twins as they embark on an exploration of Cuba’s tobacco region, soak up the sights and sounds of Old Havana, discover treasures inside Cuban cigar shops and factories, sip Cuba’s finest rum, and enjoy the famous authentic Cuban cuisine

Don’t miss this opportunity!
Save the tour date: February 21-25, 2019
***By booking the Cigar & Rum Tour with OnCuba Travel, cigar aficionados will enjoy complete access to The 2019 Habanos Festival for one day.***