One of the great things about cigar smoking is all the amazing people that you get to meet. One of the most warm-hearted and sweet of them is Susie Zook. Susie works part time in a cigar bar here in Florida called Paradise Cigarz. It’s a great neighborhood place that really specializes in boutique blends from some of the best known, and not so best known boutiques around. The owner, Brook, has a great palate, so he stocks the shop with the brands & blends that he really enjoys. Susie is there most nights & weekends to offer her advice on what to smoke from that shop. We sat down with Susie at her home in Rockledge to discuss what she enjoys about cigar smoking & what she enjoys smoking.
Susie was originally a cigarette smoker. Over the course of her life, she met & fell in love with her husband, Mike. Mike was an avid cigar smoker, and encouraged Susie to try cigars. Susie use to run a day care center out of her home when her daughter was young. Once she grew up, she decided to stop running the center and work at another job, but on a part time basis. Mike was already working with Brook at Paradise, so he recommended her to Brook. When she started working there, she decided to try cigars. Brook started her off with Drew Estate Cafe con Leche – a sweet, mild cigar – perfect for beginners. She enjoyed the flavors & felt it was a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking, since she did not need to inhale. After smoking that for a while, Brook recommended that she try something a bit bolder in flavor, so offered her the Jaime Garcia Maduro Reservo in a Robusto vitola. After smoking the ultra sweet Drew Estate, this was definitely a change – one that Susie loved. She now finds all the flavor enhanced cigars just too sweet & avoids them.
Susie smokes at least 3-4 cigars a day while she is working. When not working, she might go a few days without cigars. One of the things she loves about smoking cigars is that she doesn’t feel that nagging nicotine itch that you get with cigarettes.
The fact that she now controls her smoking habit, rather then her habit controlling her is very appealing.
As a matter of fact, Susie can’t stand cigarettes. She does enjoy the smell of cigars & especially pipe tobacco. She had a uncle who was an avid pipe smoker, so it brings back good memories for her. She loves to make recommendations to patrons of the shop on what she is currently enjoying. Among her favorites right now are Aging Room & the Cordoba y Morales Front 9. She loves to start her day with a great cup of Cuban coffee & the smooth creamy Front 9. It’s a Connecticut wrapper that is mild and creamy, so a great choice for a morning cigar.
Susie is also extremely active on social media & a member of many Facebook cigar smokers’ groups. She loves that she learns more about cigars & the brands & blends available on the market through social media. She was recently sent some Crux Cigars to sample & really enjoyed them. She also loves the travel humidor that they sent her as well. When we interviewed her, it was sitting on the table in front of us. We are also big fans of Crux, so when we saw it, we had to ask about what she thought of them.
Susie still takes some heat for her cigar smoking, mostly from family. It is still a big of a stigma to be a female cigar smoker, and some men still don’t think that she could understand the “proper” way to smoke. One of the things that continually vexes her is that some of the guys think that she wouldn’t know how to properly cut or light a cigar. She said that some of the patrons won’t allow her to cut their cigars or light them. These same patrons will then butcher their fine cigar by clipping the entire cap off, or over toasting it to light it. They wield the lighter like it’s a flame thrower, running it all up & down the sides of the poor cigar. Susie says she use to try to offer her help & advice, but learned quickly that it was best to just smile & let them do as they will. Ahhh, machismo.
If you are ever in the Central East Coast of Florida, stop by Paradise Cigarz & say hello to Susie. She is a woman who enjoys a great cigar for all the same reasons that you do – taste & camaraderie.