My first cigar experience was quite picturesque. My father and I were on the rooftop of a restaurant in Singapore just before sunset, drinking Old Fashioneds, when the waiter handed us a cigar menu. Knowing absolutely nothing about cigars at the time, I asked him to recommend something that was on the lighter side, and wouldn’t take too long to smoke as we had to venture down to dinner in an hour’s time. Cuban, handmade, 30-40 minute smoke time, and more on the medium size (“more intense than a light cigar but still mellow enough to pair well with a pre-dinner drink”). As he ticked off the boxes, he unveiled a Montecristo No. 3, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Rikesh smoking a Por Larrañaga Petit Corona
My father never smoked cigars so my exposure to this world only properly began once I started my career in menswear. Prior to lockdowns taking over the world, it was natural to meet clothing aficionados at events, before swiftly heading towards a terrace of sorts to engage in conversation accompanied by cigars. I was often handed one and welcomed with good cheer as they taught me which cigars worked well as a quick smoke, which were the perfect choice when drinking an espresso (or twelve), and which cigars were designed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. It was at this stage, in a cloud of smoke, where I found my sweet spot and to be quite frank, it was the same as my first experience in Singapore, but this time I actually knew what I was talking about.
Left: a Diplomaticos No. 2 Cigar. Right: Style details from Rikesh's outfit.
Today, the go-to cigars that I’ll always keep nearby, or request when frequenting events at the Marks Club in London, for example, are the Epicure No. 2, H. Upmann Half Corona, and more recently, the Por Larrañaga Petit Corona. The latter is a beautiful option because of its lightness and nutty flavours; I find it perfect for walking around the city in winter, decked out in attire that means business, with a flat white in hand.
TWO OF MY GO-TO CIGARS
The pairing (cigar and a well-made flat white) works well, and doesn’t space you out as full-bodied cigars often can (especially when you're a novice like me). Due to the nature of my work as a menswear photographer, I can often be in one place for a time before having to dash elsewhere at a moment’s notice, so it’s important that the cigar I have on my person can be appreciated within small pockets of time. Plus, these cigars, as well as the others pictured here — Partagas Serie D No. 4, Montecristo No. 5, and the Diplomaticos No. 2 — are solid options that tick the boxes, and don’t burn a hole in your wallet.
Cigars, from left to right: Diplomaticos No. 2, Partagas Serie D No. 4, Por Larrañaga Petit Corona, Montecristo No. 5.
Portraits of Rikesh by The Exiled Brit
Cigar images by Rikesh