According to Cigar Mall USA, American women now constitute as much as five percent of the cigar market, a massive leap from the tiny 0.1 percent of all cigar buyers in the mid Eighties. A series of women-only nationwide cigar events organized by Morton’s of Chicago, Inc., was a sellout in America, with more than 1,500 women attending, and nearly 5,600 cigars enjoyed.
We may be slow to catch on but when we do, we Brits do it with tenacity. Finding its London customer database was almost 100 percent male, Davidoff decided it was time to introduce women to the joys of the cigar and, thanks to an initiative from their Geneva headquarters, London’s first Davidoff Ladies’ Masterclass was born.
Intrigued to learn more, I joined 20 other women one winter evening at the MayFair Hotel, just behind Piccadilly. The sleek, contemporary Cigar Room, with its louvered walls, pink lighting and canopied day beds, was a delightful venue for ladies, well heated and more Zen retreat than gentlemen’s club.
My fellow adventuresses included two actresses, a scriptwriter, an architect, an interior designer, the events manager for Prada and several women who worked in the city.
After lychee and rosewater Martinis and Davidoff Exquisito Longfiller Cigarillos, the smallest ever hand-rolled cigars, Vincent Kremble, Davidoff’s international brand ambassador, who had flown in from Switzerland especially for the event, taught us how to choose, cut, light and appreciate a cigar. Rule One: one does not “smoke” a cigar, one “enjoys” it and – crucial – never inhale.
It was after my second Masterclass at the MayFair that I became aware of just how many London cigar bars, (or “COSAs” – comfortable outdoor smoking areas, as they’re known in the cigar world) were coaxing women in. I had been slow to catch on – warm and luxurious COSAs, like the MayFair’s, are now so plentiful that it’s as if they have replaced the spa in terms of the new must-have adjunct for any luxury hotel.
The Garden Room at the Lanesborough, having long boasted the most impressive selection of cigars in London, is now upping its game further with its cocktail and cigar “pairing” menu and cigar sommelier on hand to offer advice. The fact that Beyoncé hangs out here when she’s in town is evidence enough that the COSA is now a destination as much for women as for men.
Delighted by their success in London, Davidoff is now planning Ladies’ Masterclasses in Paris, Vienna and Madrid. The reason women are starting to enjoy cigars so much may partly be because there is something deliciously wicked about being in a COSA.
Not only are we defying the smoking ban and the British weather, we’re also infiltrating one of the last remaining male bastions and, armed with our new-found Masterclass know-how, we’re doing it with confidence and style.
The next two Ladies’ Masterclasses will take place on July 23, 2013, in Vienna (HilgerBROTKunsthalle Wien 10) and on September 26 in Madrid (Hotel ME Madrid – Reina Vitoria). For more information visit www.davidoff.com.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2013. Read more