Synonymous with luxury, hedonism and refinement, cigar-smoking is an art unto itself. Its aficionados are well acquainted, initiating in turn those seeking to discover this world of exceptional products, exquisite rituals and exotic fragrances. At Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, it’s easy to try this tobacco product, now an indulgence of choice. Enter a different world in the company of Alfred Galati, who runs the Drugstore at Café de Paris Monte-Carlo.
You’ll see “hecho a mano” on the boxes of the most prestigious cigar brands. This term meaning “handmade” or “hand-rolled” refers to a tradition of artisanal craftsmanship, typical in Central America, the Caribbean and especially Cuba. As explained by Alfred Galati, manager of the Drugstore at Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, “the know-how, microclimate and terroir in Cuba are why the island’s cigars remain unmatched.” Invented in Seville in the 17th century, this cylinder of tobacco leaves was first made in factories in Havana and the surrounding area in 1799. Since then, it has conquered the world bit by bit, spreading its smoky, earthy and/or herbal fragrances amidst highly discerning smokers.
The finer things in life
Sensory pleasures, moments to oneself, cigar tasting is similar to other gastronomic arts, where the same search for flavours, originality and rarity persists, such as in the world of wine or whiskey. To learn how to smoke is to learn an organised ritual: guillotine cutter in hand, the aficionado cuts off the tip of the cigar and starts to light it (preferably with odourless matches), and doesn’t bring it to their mouth at first. From one famous brand to another, each step of the ritual will bring out different aromas: some varieties will have an explosion of fragrance at the start, while other flavours will be revealed in the middle of the ritual… Sensorial themes evoking undergrowth, leather and caramel will then awaken the palate of connoisseurs, who can swirl the smoke in their mouth without inhaling it.
Depending on the modules (or vitolas) that describe the length and ring gauge of different cigars, the time the enthusiast will devote to this moment of gourmet, olfactory pleasure will vary. As Alfred Galati noted, “business lunches have shortened, people often have less time to smoke, in fact, there is a clear current trend to choose robust types, which are smoked in 15 to 20 minutes, instead of double coronas, which burn longer.” And while pleasure may have decreased with the changes to our lifestyles, this does not apply to the intense moment to oneself that this refined product represents, forever in search of greater richness.
Rendezvous of connoisseurs in Monaco
The beautiful patios of Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer establishments are very well suited to cigar tastings. Enjoy the panoramic view while indulging in this gourmet pleasure, accompanied, for example, by a cognac or brandy recommended by the sommeliers and bartenders at Casino de Monte-Carlo, Louis XV - Alain Ducasse à l'Hôtel de Paris or Crystal Bar. At the latter, a selection of cigars and accessories (cigar cutters, matches) is available for purchase.
At the American Bar at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, smokers can leave their cigar boxes at the bar: individual lockers are available, and, upon request, staff can replenish them for optimal storage. The establishment’s humidor has some very fine cigars on offer, such as the Arturo Fuente Opus X from the Dominican Republic, which is quite a rarity! At the Drugstore at Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, well-known to Monaco enthusiasts, a wide selection of cigars and advice from experts await aficionados. 120 types, half of which come from Cuba, one-third from the Dominican Republic and a few from Nicaragua and Honduras, are available, as well as, on request, rare types and limited editions.