ON A RECENT FRIDAY NIGHT IN FORT GREENE, I sat in a leather lounge chair with David Diamante in his comfy Brooklyn Cigar Lounge and got a few pointers on rolling cigars. Diamante’s traveled to Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic to master the fine art of rolling. “It’s one of those things that you need to know the nuts and bolts to talk about it from an educated perspective,” he explains. And here’s what I learned:
1. Shred the tobacco into a uniform size. Spread it on a clean, flat surface, lightly mist it with filtered water.
2. After removing the center vein of the binder leaf, lay that on the same clean, flat surface, and sprinkle the shredded tobacco on it.
3. Wrap the binder leaf around the shredded tobacco and check it for consistent density. With thumb and index finger, squeeze it at one end and work your way to the other.
4. Spread a light coat of a binder such as bermacol, tragacanth, guar gum or egg white along one edge of the binder leaf, and ever so gently press against the rest of the cigar.
5. Trim off the excess leaf.
6. Roll the wrapper leaf around the binder leaf and seal it with bermacol, Tragacanth, Guar Gum or egg white, just like the binder leaf.
7. Overlap the ends of the wrapper leaf.
Using the Cigar Former
Place the cigar inside a former of the same size, which retains the cigar’s shape while its tobacco dries. (The former is made by nailing wooden strips onto a board. The former is covered with a top and clamped down.) Wait for about 30 minutes, unclamp the top of the former, turn the cigars over, reclamp the top for another 30 minutes. Then place the former inside an oven just hot enough to warm the former, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. When the cigar is dry, trim the ends. Store the finished cigar inside a humidor for a few weeks.
Diamante, who imports his own special blends for the lounge, is not giving away trade secrets here. Rolling takes hours of practice, and seriously, where are you going to find good leaf tobacco in Brooklyn? It’s really better to just head over to Brooklyn Cigar Lounge and talk about the process with David — he’s the tall, skinny, well-dressed guy with dreadlocks down to his back pockets—while toking on one of his selection. As for the lounge, it’s in a restored brownstone at 108 Oxford Street, Brooklyn, 11217. (Call 646 MADURO, for Brooklynites who prefer dialing letters to numbers, or 646 462-3876, for out-of-boroughers.)
Executive Editor Phil Scott has previously written for Brooklyn Artisan about canning, shaving, glider-flying, and other manly pursuits.