Big bosses, mobsters, older white men.
Those are the stereotypical cigar smokers. But walking into Cutters, one of the two cigar bars in the city of Charlotte, at the Marriott Hotel in Uptown, smokers are more likely to be sports fans, a bit over 30 and so not mob affiliated.
Take Keith Cradle for instance.
Cradle, 36, has a cigar at least once a week with a group of friends. They’ve been doing it for 10 years, not because it was trendy, but to relax and chew the fat. Why with cigars, though?
“Cigarettes are more like a loner type of thing,” he said. “You go outside and take quick puffs and go back inside.”
But with cigars, which burn slower and have a different taste, there’s time to sit down, relax and talk about everything – ranging from politics, sports and of course women.
“In that time, you’re having conversations and you’re in this atmosphere. It just breeds fellowship. That’s what we got out of it a long time ago, the conversations we could have and it just became a part of what we do,” said Cradle.
On Thursdays, Cradle and about nine of his friends head to Cutters or The Sunset Club on South Boulevard. Due to a change in North Carolina law, smoking is outlawed in most lounges and clubs. However, even before the law went into effect, there weren’t too many places that welcomed cigar smokers.
So, what's the best kind of cigar to smoke? It depends on your pallet.
According to Cigars for Dummy's.com, the most widely known colors are:Double Claro - Light green to yellow shade wrapper also called Candela. It is achieved by a heat-assisted quick-drying process. Such wrapper is characterized by a very mild flavor and slightly sweet taste.Think of coffee, the darker it is, the stronger it is. It's similar with cigars.
Claro - Light tan wrapper. To achieve this color, tobacco is usually grown under shade tents, leaves are picked before they mature and are quickly air-dried. As a rule claro cigars are mild and smooth because the wrapper does not make an impact to the flavor.
Natural - Light brown to brown, also called colorado claro, often sun-grown wrappers. They result in a fuller bodied flavor if compared to the Claro.
Colorado - Medium-brown to reddish dark brown. Usually shade-grown and robust and rich in flavor.
Colorado Maduro - Dark brown, aromatic and rich medium flavor. The color shade is between Colorado and Maduro.
Maduro - Very dark reddish-brown to almost black. It is achieved either by "cooking" the leaves in a pressure chamber, or fermenting them for a longer period of time in very hot conditions. The wrapper usually sweet and indicates a strong flavor.
Oscuro - The darkest maduro wrapper, almost black. It means that the leaf was left on the plant and fermented the longest. The cigars are characterized by a full-bodied flavor. As a rule such wrappers are of Nicaraguan, Mexican or Brazilian origin.