Frequently Asked Questions

Central Cigars is St. Petersburg’s premier cigar bar and lounge offering one of the largest cigar selections in the Tampa Bay Area.

General Questions

Selecting the Perfect Single

1) Look for open boxes in your tobacconist’s humidor that have been there for a while. Cigars are often shipped “wet” to retard drying, and should stabilize for a week or more in a proper environment before smoking. Grab them too soon, and they may have only stabilized on the exposed side, causing uneven burning. (You can compensate just as easily by putting your purchases in your own humidor for a week before smoking.)

2) Squeeze the cigar gently. It should “give” but not be too soft. Don’t roll it in your fingers, as some suggest – this can damage the wrapper. Squeeze gently up and down the body to look for lumps or soft spots. A good cigar should have neither. Remember to be gently. Even if you don’t buy that cigar somebody else might – don’t damage it!

3) inspect the wrapper for “odd” discolorations, looseness, or cracks. The wrapper should be smooth and tight, and not damaged on either end. Smaller veins are good to watch for, as these often smoke smoother, but compare your single to other cigars with the same wrapper! Veins appear differently in different wrapper types.

4) Look at the tobacco in the exposed end. Some variation of color is normal, as most cigars are made from a blend of tobaccos. What you’re watching for is extreme or abrupt color changes. This sometimes means an inferior leaf was used, or the leaves weren’t laid together properly in the bunching process. Off tastes and uneven burns will often be the result.

How to the packaged cigars that I can buy from the drugstore compare to THE GOOD STUFF?

Most packaged “drug store” cigars include non-tobacco ingredients such as paper, saltpeter (for even burning) and PG or Glycerin (to prevent them from drying out). Quality cigars contain only tobacco. Most quality cigars contain top-of-the-line leaves, and are made with long-filler (the leaves run from end to end. “Good” cigars are generally only available from tobacconists.

Are mail-order cigars ok?

Many cigar smokers use mail-order houses for their discounted prices. The problem with this is that there are very few mail-order suppliers who will let you purchase singles – and who wants to spend $100 for a box just to try a new smoke? This is one of the best reasons why you might want to frequent your local tobacconist. There you can get good advice, buy singles, and see and smell the stogies you’re purchasing.

What about old cigars? Should I buy fresh ones?

Tobacco used in premiums is aged 18 to 24 months before rolling. Some manufacturers age rolled cigars an additional year before even shipping them to the distributor. as long as they are stored properly, there’s no such thing as an “old” cigar. Many people prefer “vintage” smokes.

If a cigar is properly stored in a humidor, how long will it last?

“Besides being a suitable way to transport cigars, are those glass (or metal) storage-tubes ok to use? For how long?”  As long as the cigars were properly humidified before the tubes sealed, they should last for a long time. Open it up to smell the tobacco though, and you’ll be letting in dry air (which will slowly dry them out). Tubes with cork stoppers also will slowly exchange moisture with the “outside” air.

What's the difference in taste of cigars from different countries?

Each country’s cigar production has its own taste and character. Cigars are made all over the world, with tobacco grown in different soils, cured by different processes, and rolled with different techniques.

Lighting a cigar

1) If you use a match, wait till the sulfur burns off before using it to light you cigar. Long cedar matches are great.

2) If you use a lighter, use a butane one. The gasoline based lighters impart a foul flavor to your smoke.

3) Some claim that the only proper implement for lighting up is a cedar spill. A cedar spill is a long thin strip of Spanish cedar which is lit first and then used in turn to light your cigar.

4) Preheat the foot (the open end) by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame at an angle allowing a tiny black ring forms all the way around the wrapper. Don’t allow the flame to touch the cigar.

5) Place the cigar in your mouth, and draw in as you repeat the process, slowly rolling the cigar at an angle above the flame, but never letting the lighter flame actually touch the cigar. About a 1/2 inch or so away. What appears to happen is the flame seems to leap from lighter up onto the foot of the cigar, even though the cigar never comes in direct contact with the lighter’s flame. Remember to slowly spin the cigar to establish an even burn.
6) Pull it from your mouth and actually look at the glowing foot. If the burn is really uneven, repeat the previous step on the appropriate side to even the burn. If it is just a bit uneven (which is not unusual), gently blow on the end in the appropriate place to intensify the heat there, and then take a couple steady draws. Then just wait a minute before continuing to puff. This short delay seems to allow the cigar a chance to stabilize and self correct the burn.
7) Sit back and relax and smoke
8) If the cigar happens to go out, just knock off the ash, gently blow through the cigar to clear out the old smoke, then jump right to the drawing while rolling part of the light up sequence.

Selecting Clippers & Cutters

Where to cut?

The first thing you should do is closely examine the head of the cigar – this is the closed end that needs to be clipped. Almost all have what is called a cap – a bit of tobacco leaf used to close of the end – you should be able to see how far down the length of the cigar the cap goes by inspection. Typically only a 1/4″ – 3/8″ or so; sometimes much less, and on figurado shapes sometimes quite longer. Wherever the cap stops is your cutting limit – cut beneath the cap’s line or even too close and your cigar will start to unravel. Cut the minimal possible while trying to open approx. 75%-85% of the cigar end’s surface area. Sometimes this means a cut as little as 1/32″ down, where other times almost 3/8″ – it depends entirely on the individual cigar’s roll and cap construction.

Selecting Cutters

1) The single bladed cheap cutters that most newbies are given or buy for $3 typically do a very poor job of clipping the cap, and result in crushed, split, and tattered cuts. One thing to keep in mind when using a guillotine cutter is to line up your cigar at eye level and to clip it quickly and decisively.2) Many smokers swear by the .44 Magnum cutter which is a relatively inexpensive punch that is easy to use. It makes a perfect round

2) Many smokers swear by the .44 Magnum cutter which is a relatively inexpensive punch that is easy to use. It makes a perfect round opening, and completely bypasses the problem of how much to clip. Try one at your tobacconist, to find one that will be ideal for you.3) V-Cut clippers are also available, and some cigar smokers think this is the ONLY way to clip your cigar. You don’t have to worry about the caps length using this type of cutter since you rest the cigar against it, and it “automatically” takes out a v-notched shaped bit of tobacco of the same size every time. These cutters typically work better on some sizes than others, depends on the size of the v-notch blade.

3) V-Cut clippers are also available, and some cigar smokers think this is the ONLY way to clip your cigar. You don’t have to worry about the caps length using this type of cutter since you rest the cigar against it, and it “automatically” takes out a v-notched shaped bit of tobacco of the same size every time. These cutters typically work better on some sizes than others, depends on the size of the v-notch blade.

4) Cigar scissors are elegant, but they can be difficult to use, as well as carry around.

Ashes & Ashtrays

Ashes

1) A cigar that is well rolled (packed), can burn slowly and create a stiff ash up to two to three inches in length without bending or breaking.

2) If your ash breaks up quickly, or burns in a less than tightly contained manner, or expends, it is probably not packed well and its’ smoking characteristics are probably below par. If the ash color begins to vary into the darker tones the leaf mix was not up to standard.

3) The quality of the smoke is not affected by the length of the ash. Hot or bitter smoking taste, or any other kinds of less than smooth variations that occur while smoking the cigar, are other indications of poorer quality, either in the leaf mix or the rolling.

4) A great quality cigar can usually be smoked down to the nub (past the Band). Sometimes, as you smoke a great or good cigar, the taste will change from “lovely smooth”, to beginning to be “bitter” or have a distinct “after taste”. A good cigar can maintain its slow burning qualities from 3 to 5 minutes without being puffed. Quite often it will burn itself past a “tar” spot easily and a resumption of your smoking it (without it going out) will confirm its’ return to its original wonderful flavor. Give it a chance to re-prove itself. Often, the last two inches are really satisfying.

Ashtrays

1) The proper ashtray has a “Rest” (landing ) for your cigar that has generous proportions, such as about 2 inches long and 7/8 to an inch wide, with at least a generous curve on its’ sides so as to contain it easily, ie, prevent it from rolling to the side.

2) The tray itself needs to be big enough to take, at least, the ashes from two big cigars, or else there is an annoying build up of a mountain of ash that constantly has to be played with (distracting to the purist), or else emptied frequently. Should a friend visit you you need an ashtray with two holders for cigars and an even larger size to hold the ashes without ash-buildup.

3) Sometimes there is no room on your desk for an ashtray or in many cases, you are in a room where you need a “Ashtray on a Stand”. These should have ample proportions, and of course a removeable tray that nests in a stand. In either the desk, or stand type, Heavy glass or Metal is preferrred. Decorated Ceramics stand alone ashtrays or inserts, are of course, acceptable, as long as they meet the above criteria. Don’t use fragile ones.

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