Paul Phiri is the owner of Music Men Marketing, the company behind the innovative Cigar Bar Experience, a mobile cigar bar. The 33-year old, originally from Zambia, found a love for cigars when he was a cognac brand ambassador. He now spends his time connecting influential brands and people...when not enjoying a cigar.
Tell us a bit about your business? Music Men Marketing is a marketing company and we have different departments that we focus on including sound hire, a recording studio and events management. The mobile cigar bar service is another part of what makes up the business.
Where and when did your love of cigars begin? I found a great interest in cigars when I was the Remy Martin ambassador. For three years I conducted tastings with food, chocolate and cigars and found that there was a market for the lifestyle. I found it interesting that people found different tastes when they combined cognac, whisky, wine and/or champagne with cigars. I wanted to try every possible pairing.
How was the Cigar Bar Experience conceptualised? I wanted to start a business and found a niche community that is interested in fine dining. So I wanted to create a service that caters to them. The business was created in 2014.
How does it operate? The mobile cigar bar is a service that caters to a corporate lifestyle culture. Our corporate lifestyle culture is the middle man of luxury which brings ladies and gentlemen to experience (different things) and aspire. We pair the best-rated cigars with cognac, whisky, wine and champagne.
What makes your concept different? Our mobile cigar bar has a screen for people to interact with. A menu of all our alcohol partners is at the consumer’s disposal and an ambassador and hostess are also there for additional information and they guide you to make the perfect pairing.
Which are the best cigars to be smoking right now? For beginners I recommend the Olivia series V that is a really smooth and creamy cigar. For more experienced smokers, the Alec Bradley Robusto. It’s a medium to heavy cigar; great with a good cognac.
How can you tell a good versus poor quality cigar? If you hold a cigar close to your ear and gently roll it between your thumb and index finger, the sound will help you tell the quality of the cigar. The louder the crackle, the lower the quality.
What's the best way to prepare a cigar? The best way to prepare a cigar is firstly have a combination of a 90-94 rated cigar. Using a puncher is better than using a cutter. When punching the cigar, less smoke will be drawn by pulling on the cigar, bringing out the notes of the cigar. When lighting the cigar, use cedar wood. Using a lighter can cause the cigar to have gas at its centre, making it taste different. Once the cedar wood is lit, burn the front of the cigar and turn it clockwise or anti clockwise. The cigar has not touched your lips yet. The front of the cigar will start burning and turning a dark shade of brown. Once the front is lit, start puffing away while still burning the cedar with the cedar wood. Enjoy.
Your recommendation for enjoying a cigar? The best way to enjoy a cigar is with a good bottle of cognac, whisky, wine or champagne, and great company!
How can one best protect/keep cigars? Humidifiers are a great way to help keep the cigars in good condition. If you don't have a humidifier but want to keep a cigar, keep it in your fridge at home.
What are the top myths about cigars? Cigar smoking is only for the wealthy.
If you have R100 to spend, buy a COHIBA Club, very affordable light cigar that can be smoked any time.
If you have R1000 to spend, buy an Olivia series V cigar, a cutter and leather pouch to hold the cigars.
And if the sky’s the limit? I believe there are no limits as long as you have goals and dreams. The only person that can really hold you back is yourself.