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Smoke signals -Taste is just one small part of cigar joy


It's not just proud dads, swank bachelors and old fogies smoking stogies these days.
More women than ever have taken up the habit, says a local cigar merchant.


"They like the sophistication. While connoisseurs don't roll their own cigars like some cigarette smokers do, they are often fascinated by the process. Before Christmas, they hosted a demonstration for clients in the shop. "Our Nicaraguan manufacturers will send rollers to their key customers," he says.


"A lot of people like to see how cigars are rolled. It is quite interesting to watch."
He is planning another event for later this year.


American cigar distributor CF Dominicana has noted 70% of those taking part in the growing trend of cigar catering in the U.S. are women. "Both men and women smoke cigars because they like the taste, but women appreciate the added fact that it's a craft," says company president Dennis Briganti, who is trying to expand into Canada. At catered parties he provides authentic cigar rollers from the Dominican Republic and a cadre of female servers, who float the room serving the cigars.


The scene is reminiscent of Prohibition speakeasies, Briganti says, and "the pleasant visual adds the perfect touch of class and beauty." The company has already worked events in Vancouver, most notably a 600-guest party hosted by the Suzuki Motor Corp.


"We flew a roller out for that event," says Briganti. Several U.S. celebrities hire cigar caterers for their A-list events. New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza recently had cigar rollers at his wedding.
CF Dominicana has catered Sex and the City and The Sopranos cast parties, and this week will be rolling cigars at a charity ball hosted by former NBA superstar Magic Johnson.

Catania says cigars, like single malt scotch and port wine, are best enjoyed with friends.
"It's not about nursing an addiction. It's more about enjoying the taste and refining your palate."
"You and I could smoke the same cigar, and I could find it nutty and you could find it buttery.
"It's a very subjective thing."
The cigars he sells range from $1 for cigarillos to $52.90 for a Cohiba sublime 2004 limited edition cigar. They're not exactly healthy, says Charania.
"But at least you're not inhaling the additives and preservatives in cigarettes. Cigars are all natural."



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