Edward Spalding, president of Honolulu’s prestigious Pacific Club, examined his Havana cigar. “Why can’t someone invent a proper cigar box, one that keeps them moist?” he asked to no one in particular, his nose wrinkled. Spaulding cut the end of his and dipped it into his Armagnac. The club’s senior butler, a snowy-haired Azorean, padded to Spalding’s side, struck a long match and held it steady until the cigar’s tip glowed uniformly red.

The sugar cane barons sat in ruby-hued high-back chairs upholstered with felt that were loosely arranged around a pair of coffee tables in the men-only smoking room. They began their own cigar-smoking rituals, as if preparing a choreographed sacramental offering.

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