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Pairing puffs and pints

The Freuds and Churchills of the world today are satiating their palate in diverse ways. Cigar expert Manish Dutt delves into some cigar and liquor pairing options that will leave you asking for more.

Manish Dutt        Print Edition: April 17, 2011

Always pair the strong with the strong. A full-bodied cigar will complement a strong whisky and a medium bodied one will pair well with a light Armagnac:

1. Cognac: A cigar and a cognac should add spice to each other's flavours. Tip: Match the age of the cognac with the strength of the cigar. The VS (Very Special) is the lowest age category and does not pair well with cigars. The middle aged VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) is 5 YO and goes well with medium bodied cigars. Similarly, the XO (Extra Old) is 7 YO and complements a full bodied smoke. Combination: The fruity Hennessey Paradis XO can be paired with the creamy Cohiba Robusto (Length: 4.7"; Ring Gauge: 50).

2. Armagnac: It's fuller bodied, more bitter and drier than the cognac. Tip: Choose the Bas Armagnac, which is blended with brandies from the Ténarèze region in France. Combination: The Bas Armagnac Larressingle XO can be paired with the full bodied San Cristobal de La Habana - el Morro which has a distinct chocolate flavour (Length: 7"; Ring Gauge: 49) and with the medium bodied Vegas Robaina - Unicos
(Length: 6"; Ring Gauge: 52).

3. Scotch: The flavour and aroma of scotch doesn't linger on the palate and lets the flavour of the smoke remain distinct. Tip: Choose a single malt since since it has higher alcohol content, in case you prefer blended, opt for an older one. Combination: The Glenfiddich Special Reserva 12 YO complements the full bodied Montecristo "A" (Length:5"; Ring Gauge:47). The Johnnie Walker 18 YO Blue Label goes well with the robust Romeo y Julieta Churchills
(Length: 7"; Ring Gauge: 47).

4. Rum: Since rum is a sweet liquor, it goes well with chocolaty and fruity cigars which are medium bodied. Combination: Bacardi Vanilla's caramel flavour complements the chocolaty notes of the medium bodied Montecristo Edmundo
(Length: 5.3"; Ring Gauge: 52).

5. Coffee: The safest bet for the non-drinkers. Coffees with strong complex flavours are preferred and should be paired with medium to full bodied cigars. Combination: An espresso (with 100% Arabica beans) will balance the cocoa in the full bodied Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto
(Length: 4.7"; Ring Gauge: 50).

Cracking the R.S.V.P code
Today, etiquette is synonymous with humility and is crucial for building a credible reputation and winning respect. Shital Kakkar Mehra of Soft Skills International decodes a universal element in formal protocol- the R.S.V.P.-that stands for the classic French phrase 'Répondez s'il vous plait' meaning 'please reply'. This gesture functions on two levels: For the host: It acts as a guide. They can make arrangements for their events, keeping in mind the acceptances they receive. For the guest: It is a form of basic courtesy. It is vital to respond to an invitation, even if it's to say, "Thanks for the invitation, but regret I'll be unable to attend". Responding to R.S.V.P: On receiving a formal, written invitation addressed to you, send a written reply (an email will suffice) within the next 48 hours. If the invite has a response card, write your reply on it. In case it carries the host's phone number, call with your reply. If you're unsure about your attendance, respond 'Maybe' with a brief explanation of what's the hold up, and change your reply to 'Yes' or 'No' as soon as possible. If you've confirmed your participation, but are unable to attend due to a last minute unforeseen engagement, call the host personally instead of being an irresponsible no-show.

Sprucing up a golfer's swings
Delhi-based sports physiotherapist, Dr Ankita Verma brings forth exercises for arms, shoulders and hips that help in augmenting a golfer's swings:
1. Stretching: A full 'head-to-toe' approach to stretching will exercise all major muscle groups in sequence. Stretch each part of the body, one at a time and hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat the stretches three or four times for each side. Benefit: Increase in range of motion and reduction in niggling injuries.

2. Overhead Extension: Grab club just outside shoulder width and hold the club over head with arms extended. With your feet placed a shoulder width apart, bring club down to legs and rise again. Repeat for 15 seconds. Benefit: Prepares shoulders for better top of the backswing position and increases functional range of motion in finish position.

3. Golf Rotation: Place the club over shoulders behind the head and assuming the golf posture, rotate the upper body back and through. Keep lower body quite still and feel the stretch in mid (core section). Repeat each side 10 times. Benefit: This prepares golf specific muscles to make aggressive moves and leads to proper sequencing of swings.

4. Side Lunge: Hold the club behind neck and look straight ahead. Step directly out on one side feeling a little pull up the inside of the leg. Go directly on the other direction and repeat, while staying upright. Benefit: This allows a fuller back swing without tension in hips or inner thighs.

5. Modified Good Mornings: With slightly flexed knees grab your club, bend at hips and let the left arms hang relaxed in front of legs. Return to starting position and repeat 15 times. Benefit: Better circulation in the lumbar (lower back) area to withstand the high torque from initial swings.

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