Swag: Cigar Rests
Some would call this a snob’s accessory or point out how delicate you must be that you’re so special you have to have your own place to rest your favorite stick. Yeah, okay…I can live with that. But, I would argue that staring at a dirty ashtray with what looks to be a gooey residue from some organism that just gave birth and then hauled ass doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in cuddling things you handle and put in your mouth. Maybe after a few fingers of Laphroaig you just don’t give a damn. Maybe the denial approach of drinking really bad Tequila, you know, when you tell your friend ‘don’t sniff it before you drink it’, but in this case its ‘just don’t look at the ashtray’. In the end, an ashtray is just that – an ashtray. For, you know, ashes. And used matches. And disposed cigar cuts and punches. Maybe a toothpick. And the corner of a yellowed cocktail napkin with a wad of Orbit melted into it. Livin’ large.
I regularly smoke out on our back covered patio and have some nice ashtrays strategically placed for myself, friends, etc. And while we clean them regularly, they do sit outside. While I don’t expect to suddenly stumble upon a couple of racoons taking a dump in the ashtrays and then lighting it on fire, I think considering a rationale of practicality is not a bad thing. I have 1-, 3- and 4-finger ashtrays out back. They’re not particularly large or have deep ash boats. When we have folks over, sometimes the ashtrays aren’t big enough for everyone to rest their big ass Ghurkas in, so they’re stuck clutching them or temporarily laying them across the arm of a piece of furniture, which draws the ire from my wife. When I smoke alone I typically use my 1-finger tray. Regardless of cigar size, I’m constantly fiddling with my cigar to get it balanced on the lip of the ashtray which begins to seriously cut into my Pinterest time on my iPad.
So, there are concrete hygienic, logistical and convenience benefits to owning and using a cigar rest/stand/holder. Okay, so what do you look for and whats available? Are we going for pure utilitarian, you know, something simple that gets the job done or do we opt for the objets d’art? What about portability? Size, shape…weight? Will it securely hold Uncle Johnny’s sausage-sized 80 Payback or my wife’s teeny tiny Havana Honey? What about those cigar clip things? Not very practical unless you’re out on a golf course, which is right up there with holders you stick in the ground with your cigar pointing straight up. I have a cigar clip – actually a set of two joined clips that swivel with different tensions: one that’s light to hold the stick and the other more firm to attach to a solid surface. I don’t dislike the clip, its just not practical for me and I’m not inspired by the grip of the cigar-side clip.
When I first started looking for rests, I was a bit surprised at the lack of availability when I first googled them. Finally, after some digging around, I found a handful of artisans that, among other things, craft some of the coolest rests around. Some designs have been around a while, like the 1- or 2-piece “X” stand. They are typically stainless steel and you can find them on Amazon for under twenty bucks. Buyer beware though as they’re made in China and the reviews on them are awful, particularly when it comes to the hinge pin that falls out the first time, and only time, you use it. The other primary style is the short, round 2-3″ high, flat-top cylinder with a concave groove running down the center. These are growing in popularity and are made of numerous types of material like various metals (including titanium), woods and stone. Some are even branded like Cohiba’s metal ‘X’ stand or the Camacho Scorpion. The Camacho rest is no longer commercially available, from what I gather.
The availability of the small cylinder rests seems to be growing. There doesn’t appear to be a single manufacturer that is putting these things out by the bazillions, so you’ll have to scan the web for specific artisans that specialize in these things. Some of the shops include Custom Ash, BigCartel and Humble Design Werx. There’s even some folks selling their custom rest wares on ETSY like Cigar Titan. Depending on your taste, basic aluminum to a rustic copper patina, banksia hybrid, knurled or anodized, you can find a pretty cool rest. Some made by Custom Ash and BigCartel have punches incorporated – a nice touch.
So, when I started looking at the cylinder style I thought it definitely would be perfect for my back patio. But, I got to thinking about how portable it would be. Packing it in a backpack, purse or briefcase is a no brainer. But what if you just wanna drive across town or walk down to a friends house? Just throw it in your front pocket? Sure, they’re not huge but man, it could look weird, like a thigh goiter or something. In a pair of “skinny” jeans it might be dangerous. You put down one too many drams of hooch, stumble down some stairs and fall, you could bruise your junk. Nonetheless, some of these are crazy cool and yes, I will probably break down and get one. If you like the exotic, check out the selection at BigCartel, they’re downright shindiggity.
Because we’re pretty active, portability became a real issue, and while I love the cylindrical style, it just wasn’t practical for going out. So, I started looking at the ‘X’ style. Unfortunately, all I could find were the cheap Chinese-made pieces of crap on Amazon. There was also a brand called “Rattray” on Amazon, and while cheap, it had no reviews. I found the Cohiba-branded 2-piece rests, but they were a bit pricey. The last one I found is a 1-piece made of leather that folded and slotted into itself to form an X shape, and while cool, by this point I was looking for a metal 2-piece. The Cohiba looked as if it would be the only choice. Finally, I stumbled upon this shop that did custom ‘X’style rests, cutters, etc. called Les Fines Lames (fine blades). They’re located in France and have a great site. What initially caught my eye was a photo of this old folding knife style cigar cutter. As I found my way to their site, I saw their 2-piece stainless ‘X’ stand. Their 3-sword logo is engraved and it just looked cool – like d’Artagnan-3-musketeers cool (see top picture). Yeah, yeah, I know, France? ooh, la, la, Jay has to have his fancy cigar rest made in France for his fancy cigars because he can’t shove a metal American-made cylinder rest into his fancy skinny jeans while he’s skipping to work eating a fancy croissant…Pretty much. Ooh, ooh, and did I mention you get this fancy leather embossed pouch to store the 2 pieces in? Fits into the front pocket of your fat-ass jeans just fine. Oh, and it didn’t cost one dime more than many of the cylinders offered. $50. Bam!
The cheap Amazon crap, again was about $20 and the only leather one I found was just a hair shy of $75. The Cohiba rests ranged from the basic alloy of $9-10 to the heavier stainless which topped out at $60. The cylinder prices were all over the place, even the plain wood versions. Bottom end was $40 topping out at skinny-jean-ripping $160 (eg titanium from HD Werx). Still, some are very cool especially considering some of the workmanship and the materials used. I still plan to get one. I’m posting links to some of these shops below, but do so only in the spirit of sharing information. I’m in no way connected with any of these folks. If anyone would like to share any wares I’ve missed or something new, please do. ‘Rest’ in peace – In Fumo Pax!