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How to Hold a Cigar: 5 Different Methods

How to Hold a Cigar: 5 Different Methods

Each cigar aficionado has their own way of holding a Cuban Cigar. Most of the time, we don’t give it a second thought as it comes subconsciously. However, there will always be individuals out there immensely curious about the best way to hold the cigar. Right hand or left hand? Index finger or Middle? If you want the truth, there really is no right or wrong way to hold a cigar as it is entirely up to your own preference. When it comes to cigars, etiquette and the overall experience does matter; as Zino Davidoff puts it “A cigar is smoked not only with the mouth but with the hand, the eyes and with the mind.” Engaging your full attention to a cigar is almost like art itself – the way you hold it, the way you light it and even the way you smoke it. If you are curious about the different methods of holding a cigar, read below. 


BETWEEN FOREFINGER & THUMB - This hold involves your forefinger wrapping around the cigar, while your thumb acts as a support. If you hold your cigar like this, you are considered to be a true connoisseur. Stable and secure, this hold will ensure that the cigar does not fall out of your hands. Grab yourself an iconic Cohiba Lanceros or Partagas Serie D No. 4 and smoke it with this method. According to Jasim Ahmed, the connoisseur from the United Arab Emirates, it gives the impression that you are a highly sociable individual who is open to conversation.  Furthermore, this method is highly practical if you are smoking a thicker ring gauge, as you are able to sufficiently adjust your hold to secure it better.

"THE PINCH" – A popular method of holding a cigar - you place the cigar between your forefinger and your thumb as if you are gently pinching the tobacco. When you are using the ‘Pinch’ make sure you are pressing gently, as there is a tendency to use pressure. Just hold it tight enough so that it does not fall off your hands. Holding it with this method could mean that you are sensible and fair-minded individual.


Left: Holding the cigar with the thumb, while forefinger is wrapped around the cigar; Right: George Burns "pinching the cigar" in 1975.


"THE TRIPLE SUPPORT" – This is a very simple and extremely common way of holding a cigar. To execute this, you place your forefinger and middle finger on the band of your cigar, whilst your thumb is supporting from below. Fun fact, the original reason why bands were placed on cigars was because of the British back in the 1700s. When aristocrats would wear white gloves, and they were often stained by the cigars. To solve this issue, they placed a band around the cigar to prevent stains. But now, the band is used for marketing purposes, for instance – brands like the crest of Romeo Y Julieta and the medals of H. Upmann have become collectable due to their unique designs. So if you want to give it a go, try placing your three fingers upon the band of the cigar – but of course eventually, remove it if needed.

"THE RESPECT" - This method of holding a cigar requires all your fingers to fully-support the stick of tobacco. As seen on Fidel Castro (Above image), he is using all of his fingers to wrap the cigar, with the thumb supporting the base. According to HeSpokeStyle, it is the most respectful method to hold a cigar - enough to be seen as a ‘cigar veteran’. When using the respectful grip, it almost like you are respecting the arduous process of crafting cigars – giving the maximum support to the cigar. In all fairness, cigars do deserve the respect and honour by its smoker, after all, it requires a painstaking process to complete a whole box of the premium cigars. EGM witnessed this process when we went to visit El Laguito, the home of Cohiba Cigars.


Left: The "Pinch" Method; Right: Fidel Castro using all his fingers to hold the cigar "The Respect".


"THE PRIME MINISTER” - Winston Churchill, the famed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was rarely seen without his favourite accessory – the cigar. In many vintage photos of Churchill, he would be seen to have his lips wrapped around a stick of tobacco. That is the reason why we dedicated this method of holding a cigar to Churchill. Depending on the aficionado you ask, they would either approve or disapprove this method of holding a cigar.  For instance, according to Michael Herklots, the president of the Nat Sherman cigar brand, states that a cigar is not something to “clench between your teeth and cheek and suck on” – it should be held in your hand and brought up to the mouth to puff, then brought back down with your fingers. However, if you do decide to give the ‘Churchill’ a-go, just simply hold the cigar between your teeth – ensuring that you do not bite down too hard. There is a tendency for people to masticate when attempting this method, so try not to drool too much. If needed, take it out every now and then to prevent the smoke clouding your vision or the ash falling down your attire. The perfect cigar to pair with this method is, of course, the Romeo Y Julieta branded cigars – give the Romeo Y Julieta Churchills a-go!


Above: Winston Churchill smoking with his mouth.

"KEEP IN MIND . . ."

In anything, there is no wrong or right method to perform something. However, there are always unwritten rules and etiquette that are known to many aficionados. As Zino Davidoff says in his book, “A cigar is not held like a cigarette”, and as many aficionados do agree, holding it between your middle finger and index finger shouts ‘novice’ - and there is a reason for this. Holding the cigar in this fashion does not give the cigar enough security, the grip looks weak and it risks being dropped prematurely. The Gentleman’s Gazette agrees to this, holding it like a cigarette is an insult to those trying to push past the myth that cigar smoking is an addiction rather than a passion. But if you have done this before, do not take it personally as the most important thing is that you are comfortable.  In a world where there are countless methods of holding cigars, you should keep in mind that ‘comfort’ is the most important thing when figuring out how to hold a cigar. As said by Zino Davidoff, “A cigar symbolises rest, relaxation and leisure”, and if interpreted correctly, you should be holding the cigar in a way that allows you to relax and enjoy the present. Other things to keep a note of is to just make sure that you are not waving ash around other people or blowing smoke into people’s faces.

There are way more methods in holding Cuban Cigars as well as these five methods, and we hope that this gives you different ideas of handling your smoke. Cigar smoking is an art, and all these rules of etiquette add to your overall cigar smoking experience. For more articles about cigars, check out our Cuban Cigar Blog:

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