Maraya’s Cigars 101

12 August 2012

Cigar ritual is nothing more than simple conventions and techniques for cutting, lighting, ashing, smoking and enjoying the fine cigar you have chosen.  Not every future cigar enthusiast is aware of these conventions and techniques (much less non-smokers), and Maraya offers an accessible class – INTRODUCTION TO CIGARS 101:  CUT & LIGHT — to acquaint cigar enthusiasts and the non-smoker alike with ways that best enhance the experience.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Click HERE to purchase tickets to Introduction to Cigars 101:  Cut & Light.

Here is a picture of what a cigar 101 class may look like:

Yes, we take cigars apart.










Give Up Tension for Lent

24 March 2012

We smoke cigars to relax and find distance from the trials of existance. After slogging through a day, week or month of challenges faced, barriers overcome, stings and bruises suffered — in short, life — cigars are a transition for slipping out of the work day into a period of relaxation. Cigars satisfy our instinct to seek a much-needed respite: a simple, comforting pleasure.

Cigar smokers set aside the time to relax and spend an hour with a cigar chosen for just that moment. Not seen hunched over, staring at the ground, or huddled outside in a doorway at work, a restaurant or bar, those enjoying a cigar will be comfortably seated in a place of their choosing, the body in an open position, sitting back and relaxed. Most revealing, however, is their expression. The smile on the face of a cigar smoker makes it clear that this is someone who is enjoying themselves. The time spent smoking a cigar is often one of reflection. For many, it is a time of enhanced mental creativity, a way of finding solutions. Letting things percolate in the brain while sitting down with a good cigar not only uses the time to great advantage, it allows us to return to busy lives afterward feeling refreshed and renewed.

I like to suggest to cigar smokers that they not ‘worry’ their cigar. You’re relaxed and time has slowed since you lit up; allow your cigar the same advantage. Instead of tapping off the ash as soon as it has formed, let the cigar burn down a bit.  The cigar holds onto the ash for a reason, and the formation of a long ash is the sign of good construction. Not for nothing do cigar enthusiasts bid each other, “Long ashes.” When the cigar is ready to release the ash a single tap will shed just the right amount, the rest adhering to protect the burning ember.

Many like to see how long an ash they can get. This provides some residual entertainment among cigar enthusiasts with a competitive streak, but be warned that you do run the risk of wearing your ash if you’re not mindful. Competitive games aside, you’re better off not tapping the cigar over the ashtray until after it has burned down at least an inch. If the ash continues to adhere after a single tap, let it ride. You’re smoking a well-constructed cigar. Continue to enjoy, relaxed and worry-free, connecting with your instinct for one of life’s simple pleasures. That’s what cigar smoking is all about.

The Humble Murcott

20 March 2012

A fruit that transcends mere citrus, the murcott — if you’ve not tried it — is a brilliant taste sensation.  A sweeter,  juicier, larger and slightly flattened, thin-skinned version of the standard tangerine is worth knowing.

Renamed honey tangerine — some marketing genius’ idea to maximize market penetration, no doubt, assessing murcott as far too homely a name for such a sassy succulent — it is citrus supremacy. The woman running the produce stand at the Eastern Market in DC would always tuck an extra orange or banana into my bag and, one day in January decades ago, a murcott. When asked what it was, she responded, “Sweet. Taste it. So sweet.” That perfectly describes the essence of the fruit that has never ceased to delight.

Murcotts supply the crisp winter months with a fresh supply of juicy, sweet vitamin c in citrus form. Originally available for only about two months of the year, both the season and the size of the fruit has expanded over the years. They can be as small as a tangerine or as large as a naval orange. Its short growing season fuels passion for it, tickling the instinct of anticipation, beginning as early as mid-December or as late as the end of February, and lasting up to four months. Even more than those end-of-year holidays, I yearn their arrival with the anticipation of a ten-year-old awaiting the first snow day from school.

For breakfast, with lunch, after dinner or a snack; have them multiple times a day while the season lasts. The thin rind is easy to peel, the nose has immediate engagement, signaling the flavor within, the juice remaining inside the membrane so none is wasted in the process. Biting down on a pulpy section sends forth an explosion of sweetness in the mouth that rivals any candy.  A murcott or two is the perfect dessert, ending any meal with refreshing satisfaction.

Murcotts are a mild palette cleanser after smoking a cigar, later in the day, or the morning after. The acidic acid cuts some of the aftertaste. A little foresight at night can pay great dividends in the morning: place a peeled murcott in a zip lock bag or plastic container, seal and put on the nightstand beside your bed and, upon awakening, savor the juicy, fruity sections. It won’t cut all of the aftertaste, but will make morning mouth much more tolerable.

How deep is my love for murcotts? Enough to eat them every day I can get them, never tiring of their sweet juiciness.  Enough to tell everyone, encouraging them to go out of their way, if necessary, to buy them. Connect With Your Instinct® for a fragrant, delicious surprise; don’t delay though, the season is almost over. The murcott, or honey tangerine, is a fruit truly worthy of love.


I think MARAYA’s signature shape, the Perfecto, is a lot of fun. The elegant format — tapered head and foot, and large ring gauge at the center — is immediately recognizable as a classical cigar shape from a previous era. I have a 6″ long / 60 ring gauge Perfecto in the Piano blend, and the same size with a more pointed tip in the Tango.
Sometimes called the Double Torpedo, the Perfecto shape is not common today among cigar manufacturers; only a few currently have them in production. It takes longer for the torcedor to learn how to roll a Perfecto well and, once learned, is more difficult and time-consuming to construct. Consequently, Perfectos tend to be more expensive than other cigar shapes. MARAYA’s Perfectos are $11 and $13 for the Tango and Piano blend, respectively; less than the price of a good drink at your favorite watering hole.
The change in the ring gauge of a Perfecto from very narrow at the foot to large in the middle results in a change to the smoking experience as it burns down and opens up, making it a more interesting smoke.
I love MARAYA’s Perfecto as a celebratory shape; its elegance makes it special for gift-giving and milestones such as weddings, births, graduations and anniversaries. I find that some prefer it simply because of its relative rarity. Others like the way it smokes.
Cigar enthusiast, Ed Chin, showed me the best way to cut the Perfecto, or any cigar with a Torpedo-shaped head, with a double-bladed guillotine. But rather than lop it off with a straight slice, he cuts it at an angle. The steeper the angle, the bigger the cut. This preserves the graceful beauty of the Perfecto shape. Make a shallow cut at first; the smaller the opening, the better you can focus the smoke on specific points inside your mouth, hitting all of the different taste buds. This allows you to differentiate the tastes within the cigar, separating out the subtle flavors that make up the flavor profile of the blend. If you need a larger opening for adequate draw you can always make a second, deeper cut.
Connect with your instinct® to try something new, and see if you don’t prefer a Perfecto.


Now appearing on a computer or tv near you is a commercial for an energy shot. Sold in singled dose-sized bottles and taken more like a medication than a beverage, the company is reportedly spending billions to hook market share. Simply knock back the 2-ounce shot and you’re energized for the next five hours. The pitch used to sell this product strike a perverse chord: “it’s faster and easier than coffee!” 

What is better than a hot cup of good coffee?

Maybe on most days, there isn’t time to brew but what could be easier and faster than buying a cup of coffee?

Maybe this product is less expensive than a good cup of coffee. A daily artisanal brew can run up a sizable tab by month’s end; maybe cost is a selling point of this quick fix. Sadly, low price isn’t a factor except when buying in bulk. So why not just pop an aspirin — mostly caffeine anyway — if you need a jolt of energy? No taste, cheap, and can be found in just about every medicine cabinet.

I might be tempted to buy one, if only in the name of research; after all, I am writing about a product I’ve never tried.  However, my metabolism is one that, after even a small cup of caffeine, gives me enough energy to annoy those around me for hours. I don’t need to be bouncing off the walls for half the day to know what my instinct tells me:  this is not a good thing. Especially the part where they tell you that it is good “every day”. Sounds like an addiction waiting to happen. It’s not even a serving. It’s a dose of hyper-energy, an unnatural shock to the system. Not unlike an amphetamine.

God bless Google, enabling anyone to find out about products like this without being a human guinea pig. Users describe negative side effects, a news agency reports that it has more caffeine than claimed, and the vitamins contained don’t provide any benefit.

Here’s what is absent, evident without even trying this product. It has none of the unique nutty flavor of the coffee bean. No adding a little sugar or milk, just as you like it. Forget enjoying your favorite mug, and you can’t put your hands around it and warm away the chill of winter. No full-bodied aroma wafting up to your nose, enriching the experience of coffee on the senses. None of the ritual stirring that cools it to the perfect drinking temperature, nor any thoughts that might come to mind while engaging in enjoying the experience in lingering, however briefly, over a ritual cup to start or break up the day.

What is missing and, perhaps most important, is the experience of having a good cup of coffee that cannot be rushed: satisfying the human instinct for taking the time to relax, reflect, and recharge.

More than a Good Cigar

4 March 2012

Maraya was conceived around more than a great cigar. The tag line Connect With Your Instinct® refers to the concept that what makes us uniquely human — and unique individuals — is worthy of attention. What we connect to instinctually (rather than artificially) has the capacity to enhance our daily lives. Maraya celebrates simple pleasures:  artisanal craftsmanship (cigars, food or anything made by the hands of people) as well as art, music, literature, laughter, dance and romance. As adults we have the capacity and judgement to capitalize on those instincts that most greatly enhance our lives and the lives of those we love.

Maraya is also about relationship — through love, friendship or romance — and forging deep connections to others. Sharing the simple pleasures of a hearty laugh, a good read, a work of art (great or small), the glory of music and the expression of dance a are ways to share ourselves with others and deepen those connections we hold dear.

Moderation and consideration are also important concepts close to Maraya. Inviting good things in small doses into our day helps to insure that we control their flow, rather than the other way around. Enjoy but don’t annoy. Foul occurs when our enjoyment encroaches on the enjoyment of someone else. In whatever activity you engage, be considerate of strangers nearby and those dear to you.

We want everyone in New York City to try a MARAYA.  They are interesting, medium-bodied and easy-going.  Standard pricing at our NYC Lower East Side retail shop:

TANGO  The most robust of the three blends
Toro & Torpedo $9 Perfecto $11

PIANO  Softer, buttery
Toro & Torpedo $11Perfecto $13

FLUTE  The most mild, with floral notes
Robusto $14  Churchill $15  Corona (aged 10 yrs) $17

We ship worldwide.  See MARAYA E-Commerce , call 212 334 3499 or email MARAYA@MARAYACIGAR.COM to order. Major credit cards accepted.

Our customers enjoyed many rooftop events throughout the spring, summer & fall. Some cigar-friendly rooftop cocktail lounges are heated and open year-round. Call MARAYA at 212 334 3499 to schedule a rooftop event for you & your friends, or go to HTTP://BIT.LY/T60K8J to purchase tickets.  Ticket price includes 3 MARAYA premium cigars.  Cash bar.


15 December 2011

Heyward Tenny’s recent blog post on Famous Smoke Shop’s Cigar Blog raises an interesting perspective on the strength of today’s cigars. He makes clever use of the classic analogy from This Is Spinal Tap about the band’s new amplifier that goes up to eleven — 11! — producing yet more sound than other amps that go merely to ten.

Read more »

MARAYA Celebrates 1st Year

1 December 2011

Getting past the one-year mark in MARAYA’s intimate shop on historic Orchard Street has not been without challenges.  As we forge headlong into the holiday season, we are offering a continuation of cigar Classes & Tastings (See OUR EVENTS postings).  We have some nice accessories for holiday — and just because — giving.  Telling your friends about the Lower East Side’s newest cigar emporium is the highest compliment you can give.

If you like a medium-bodied, interesting smoke MARAYA has three blends:  TANGO, PIANO & our 1st Anniversary Limited Edition FLUTE.  Perfect for the cigar enthusiast who likes to try something new.  Stop by when you’re in the neighborhood; the Lower East Side is NYC’s coolest, hottest destination with lots of owner-operated artisanal shops, bistros, galleries & the best coffee in the city.  We have wifi in the shop, so bring your laptop & get some work done, or close a business deal over a fine cigar.  You can smoke inside the shop or out — on the sidewalk bench when the weather is nce — and gather with friends for a relaxing afternoon or evening, before or after dinner.

If you think you’ll be later than the published closing time of 7pm, give us a call 212 334 3499 and we’ll arrange to stay open for you.


MARAYA offers classes to the cigar enthusiast and the uninitiated alike on the proper way to cut, light, ash & enjoy a premium cigar.  Go to HTTP://BIT.LY/VLPPHW to purchase tickets, or call 212 334 3499 to arrange a class for you & your friends.  Along with the class is included a MARAYA premium cigar & the bottle fee is waived.