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WHAT IS A CIGAR HERF?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

“What is a herf?” is a question we field on a fairly regular basis at Holt’s. “Herf” is a term that is relatively new to the lexicon of cigar lovers. Its origins are debatable, however. “Herf” may be some derivative of “huff” in relation to cigars or other smokable products that one would draw upon, but we can’t be certain. Some point to the term’s first invocation in Texas in the early 1980s, while others attribute its acceptance to the emergence of online cigar forums in the mid-1990s, when the term became more widely disseminated. In any case, today we universally understand “herf” to refer to a gathering, large or small, of cigar enthusiasts where cigars are consumed. Other than that, I can’t say we’re able to ascribe an exacting set of rules or circumstances that would label any one occasion a herf while excluding others.

If you’ve got a handful of smokes on hand and a pal or two to text, you could throw an impromptu herf before you’re done reading this article. Some herfs take place over days and are wildly popular, annual events that draw attendees from around the country. Cigar Aficionado hosts a handful of Big Smokes throughout the year in destinations like Las Vegas, New York City, and Miami. Although these celebrations are a bit more elaborate and require reservations, they feature world-class cuisine and seminars with a number of renowned cigar makers, in addition to plenty of opportunities to indulge in premium cigars.

A more typical herf, however, is likely to draw anywhere from a half dozen cigar-hungry revelers to 50 or more. A herf can take place anywhere cigar smoking is allowed. Some guys elect to throw a tent up in their backyard or at the local park, roll out a few kegs of beer, and may even hire a band to play. Others choose to keep it low-key in a man cave in the basement or simply throw the door open on the garage and put out some lawn chairs. Whatever style of shindig suits you, herfs are a great chance for cigar lovers to share their most immediate common bond: premium cigars.

Although you’re likely to encounter a surplus of cigars at a herf, it’s still a good idea to bring your own. Herfs tend to engender an underlying “share and share alike” philosophy. A bit of reciprocation is always welcome when someone hands you a cigar to try that he or she may be particularly impressed by. Generally, a herf can be an excellent opportunity to get exposed to all kinds of cigars you may not have had a chance to try and get some feedback from others.

If you’re simply attending a herf that’s getting thrown by a pal, or you’re putting on one of your own, there are a number of excellent cigars you can choose to pick up. Brands like La Aroma de Cuba, Arturo Fuente and Padron have marvelous reputations for quality and consistency. Although each of these brands count a number of top-shelf limited editions in their respective portfolios, they are equally regarded for the introductory product lines they produce, which are available at very affordable prices. There aren’t many cigar fiends who would turn down an Arturo Fuente Double Chateau, La Aroma de Cuba Monarch, or a Padron 3000.

If you’re putting on your first herf, no sweat. Let’s get the party started. All you really need are cigars and fire. When you want to be more prepared than that, consider investing in a handful of accoutrements that will make your bash go off with a bang. Add a handful of plastic, disposable cutters to your collection so you don’t have to worry about losing the fancy one you had your initials engraved in as it passes through the hands of thirty different pals. It doesn’t hurt to pick up a V-cutter and a punch cutter, too. Some guys can be a little finicky when it comes to cutting their smokes a certain way.

Here’s a big one: a Stinky ashtray. The Stinky brand doesn’t cost a fortune, but they’re a premier maker of communal ashtrays. They even have an oversized herf edition that can hold more ashes than what came out of Mount Vesuvius. And if your herf is outdoors, it can never hurt to pick up a few ashtrays in a durable, non-ceramic finish. You won’t have to worry about anyone knocking it over onto the pavement and shattering it.

At some point, you may also want to pick up a table lighter. Many models are made with a series of triple and quadruple jets that deliver a potent flame for fast, impressive lighting theatrics. Plus, many table lighters are fed by an oversized butane tank, so you don’t have to constantly refuel while your buddies are firing up.

Finally, maybe you’ve already got a humidor – a definite necessity for keeping your smokes fresh, especially when you plan to share them. But, it can’t hurt to put a coolerdor on the horizon if your herfs ever start to get out of control. A coolerdor is simply a convenient way to keep a ton of cigars on hand when the word gets out that your herf is the only one with a volleyball net, catered barbecue, and free booze. Don’t forget to pick up the cigars, too!

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