Posted: Feb 25, 2009 9:36am ET
I spent last week at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami. It’s a four-day extravaganza of wine, food and, whenever possible, cigars. This year, Jorge Padrón hosted a cigar lounge following a banquet for the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I. Accompanied by sherry, some Spanish Brandy, and the great outdoors at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, more than 150 people enjoyed his Padrón Serie 1926s. Next year, I hope we can do more events like that.
Posted: Feb 12, 2009 2:55pm ET
Dave Savona and I hit the Davidoff Columbus Circle smoking lounge this week. It was a quiet Wednesday afternoon, and we were helping Jack Bettridge finish off an upcoming video for cigaraficionado.com. Like all big-time film talent, we showed up and were just sitting there, twiddling our thumbs in the Stone Rose bar, watching Jack learn the finer points of Martini preparation from Nicole, the sun-kissed bartender. We could tell it was going to be awhile before they were ready for our cameo, so instead of watching the traffic whirl around on Columbus Circle below the bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows, I said to Dave, 'let’s go hit the Davidoff store.'
Posted: Feb 9, 2009 2:54pm ET
You don’t normally see a retail store’s entire network of loyal consumers inside the shop all at once. Think about your local grocery store if everybody showed up at the same time; there wouldn’t be any parking spaces, and the lines at check-out would be snaking back down the aisles. Well, I got a taste of what that scene would be like at The Cigar Inn’s grand opening celebration on Saturday night in Manhattan. Apparently, every customer of the Fakih brothers—Bass, Billy and Gus—were there for the festivities, along with lots of their customer’s closest friends. Let’s just say that the crowd estimate would be in the hundreds.
Posted: Jan 9, 2009 10:55am ET
Casa Magna! I know you're all surprised. We were too after our initial round of Top 25 tastings. And, then, that cigar just kept holding its spot among the top five cigars. In the end, the other factors—price, availability, intangibles—that we consider when making our final choice proved to be the tipping points in favor of the Casa Magna Colorado Robusto.
Posted: Jan 6, 2009 9:01am ET
I’m sitting here back at my desk after being away for nearly two weeks. It was a glorious holiday season with lots of time spent among family and friends, eating great meals and drinking outstanding wine and, perhaps most importantly, just relaxing. Like all of you, this past fall was a tough season with the economy imploding, the non-stop banter and uncertainty about presidential politics, and in the case of magazine, more smoking to do than normal. We had our normal tasting for the Jan/Feb issue, but on top of that, three elimination rounds to choose our Cigar of the Year. Oh, and I almost forgot, two Big Smokes in November. As a result, I needed some time away from smoking.
Posted: Dec 15, 2008 4:47pm ET
It has taken a few days for this news to sink in. I had drinks with a Mexican friend, Max Gutmann, who among his many businesses, owns the Casa del Habano franchise in Mexico. He came to that business honestly; he’s one of the biggest cigar aficionados that I know and has an extraordinary collection of Havana cigars. I wrote a blog once about getting chastised for a score we published on a Partagas Lusitania; it was Max doing the chastising and he emphasized his point by giving me a Lusitania that was one of the greatest cigars I ever smoked.
Posted: Dec 2, 2008 3:02pm ET
Wow! That’s all I can say about the new Cigar Inn on Second Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets in New York City. Gus and Billy Fakih, who also own the original Cigar Inn on First Avenue between 70th and 71st, cut the ribbon on their second store this morning, December 2. Their other brother, Bass, was there too, since he is a partner in the new shop. About 50 people showed up for the 10 a.m. ceremony. There was a red ribbon. A rabbi blessed the store. And everyone tested the store’s great ventilation system by lighting up in celebration.
Posted: Nov 25, 2008 10:01am ET
I won’t presume anybody’s political leanings here. But I doubt anyone would argue with the statement that the 2008 Presidential election was one of the most important in American history. Regardless of whether your guy won or lost, you will have been present at a moment that will go down in the history books, and be noted 100 years or more from now. Partly because of its historic magnitude, there have been hundreds of stories told by people who were moved on election night to celebrate when their guy, now President-elect Barack Obama, won.
Posted: Nov 14, 2008 10:17am ET
I went to Club Macanudo last night with some friends. I was hardly ready for another cigar; we’d spent the afternoon working through the final selection for the next Top Cigar of the Year. A bit smoked out, and tired, I walked up Madison Avenue, past stores still lit up but empty of shoppers, and that was a nerve-wracking reminder of all the financial news that had been flashing across my computer screen all day—and Thursday was a good, albeit pretty tumultuous, day on Wall Street.
Posted: Nov 10, 2008 1:45pm ET
I’m back in my chair Monday morning after a great Big Smoke Weekend in Las Vegas. Even though we didn’t top last year’s numbers, there was a huge turnout. Like always, there was a sea of happy faces, and everyone was drinking and smoking and generally having a great time.