Waiters circulate with exquisite canapés and chocolate, or lychee and rosewater Martinis, before we are invited to take our seats to learn how to choose, cut, light and enjoy a cigar.
“You could make a dress out of it,” the interior designer next to me enthuses, stroking her face with the silky piece of brown fabric before passing the cigar wrapper on to me to have a feel.
It’s lusciously supple, more akin to satin than paper.
I learn that Davidoff’s fine cigars come from the Dominican Republic nowadays (though there are still plenty of Cuban cigars for sale in England), that a “premium” cigar is made entirely of tobacco leaf and that the tobacco in a good cigar is, on average, five years old.
I learn that the ring on a cigar was originally there to protect the fingers from staining (particularly in the days of white gloves). I learn that it’s not the size that counts but the tobacco blend. I learn that you must not cut more than a millimeter from the end.
You must, I learn, use an odorless flame: no sulfurous matches, candles or gasoline lighters. (Plain wood, especially cedar, is lovely.)
Don’t relight a cold cigar. Don’t stub a cigar out or tap off the ash.