Editor’s note: Congratulations to Takashi, a Washington. D.C. chef who won Monday’s Cigar Hunter prize giveaway. He’ll receive a box of House Resolution by JC Newman cigars and a Thunderbird torch lighter from Corona Cigar Co. “I usually never enter contests,” the lucky winner emailed on Tuesday, “but since I like the articles and the prize was nice to say the least, I said why not? … Keep up the great work!”
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Today’s photogenic guest smoker — and guest columnist — is journalist and filmmaker Charlotte Metcalf, an Englishwoman known for her travel and culture writing and for making documentaries on challenging subjects. She’s been published nearly everywhere in England that counts, including the Spectator, the Daily Mail and the Financial Times. Her short film “Globalisation is Good” is well worth 50 minutes of your time on YouTube. Please give her a warm Cigar Hunter welcome as she explores Davidoff’s London Ladies’ Masterclass, and manages to write about it without spelling “flavor” with a “u.”
In terms of breaking new ground, whether smashing the glass ceiling or choosing to live without men, we Brits have always looked to American women to see what they will do next. We tend to follow, and it seems cigars are no exception.
Across the Pond, you already have a website entirely devoted to women and cigars. A plethora of female celebrities (Madonna, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg to name but three) have graced the covers of some of your most prestigious cigar magazines. (RELATED SLIDESHOW: Smoking hot famous women smoking cigars)
When it comes to inventiveness, though, Brits can sneak up on you. I attended an event in London that suggests we may even be nosing ahead in the race to create the perfect, comfortable environment where women can learn about premium cigars.
I arrive at the MayFair Hotel, just behind Piccadilly in London’s West End, one dingy Thursday evening in October. Draped in steel chain mail curtains and doused in pink and blue light, the MayFair’s sleek, contemporary Cigar Room with its louvered walls and canopied day beds is the antithesis of the wood-paneled, leathery environments traditionally associated with cigars.
It’s more zen retreat than gentlemen’s club.
Since England imposed a smoking ban in July 2007, an increasing amount of energy and design have been channeled into dedicated smoking environments: Smoking terraces and cigar bars are now sometimes primary destinations, even for those who don’t smoke.
Tonight, courtesy of Davidoff, 20 of us have gathered at the MayFair Cigar Room for an initiation into the mysterious — to us, anyway — world of cigars. My fellow adventuresses include an architect, a City manager, two actresses, a film producer, the Events Manager at Prada, and a jewelry designer and her daughters.
We are greeted with chilled champagne and a Davidoff Exquisito Longfiller Cigarillo, the smallest ever hand-rolled cigar. I gave up cigarettes 18 years ago but Vincent Kremble, Davidoff’s international brand ambassador who has flown in from Switzerland for the event, assures me that one does not “smoke” a cigar; one “enjoys” it.
Rule One when you pick up a cigar: Never inhale.