Awesome is the first descriptive word that comes to mind after a weekend in the new Jaguar F-type sports car. What does that mean? I guess it is just a more succinct way of saying spine-tingling, jaw-dropping, neck-snapping, eye-popping and just outrageously fun.
The late afternoon sun had bathed the 18th green at the Squires Golf Club in soft yellow light, and the intense heat of summer's first heat wave on the East Coast had dissipated just enough to make the outdoor seating comfortable. Around the table were good friends of my buddy, Dr. Matthew Stern, who had been asking me to join him for years at one of Squires' Thursday afternoon get-togethers. It's a simple idea: a tee-time around 1:30 or 2, a round with a group of friends, and then a 19th hole libation followed by a sumptuous dinner.
Can books take on a charmed life? Normally, they come and go. Some with big name authors earn mega-bucks. Some languish in obscurity, waiting to be discovered. But every so often, a book is researched, written and published against long odds, and then, it acquires even more relevance because of an external event.
Cigar Aficionado's cigar ratings are a cornerstone of our success. Manufacturers wait for the independent judgment on their products, retailers post the scores in their shops, and consumers use the scores to help them make buying decisions. In 20 years, we estimate that we have rated more than 15,000 different cigars.
Anticipation. Excitement. Thrills. The gala dinner capping off the Festival del Habano never fails to deliver. Habanos S.A. throws a spotlight on one of their marquee brands; this year it was Partagás and the PabExpo hall was decorated in the distinctive red, gold and black that the brand is known for. The crowd of 1,200 people, mostly dressed in formal wear of one form or another ranging from black tie and gowns to the white and tan of a fancy tropical dinner, knows they are getting to see and taste things most Cubans and most foreign visitors only dream about. But, believe it or not, cigars are not the highlight of the evening.
It was a rainy night in Havana. But following a rainy day, the damp air was cool by local standards and the huge El Laguito protocol salon didn’t bring on a sweat. Walking down the line of beautiful hostesses handing out flowers and a pack of Vegueros cigars—with everyone in tropical dress, the men in guayaberas and many women in light linen dresses—the evening took on an air of a tropical bacchanal. All for the launch of three new sizes of the relaunched and rebooted Vegueros cigar.
Every year that we run the Top 25, we watch the page views creep ever closer to a threshold that, for us, is the magic number: ONE MILLION. In previous years, we’ve come so close—oh, so close. But this year, we surpassed it, with room to spare. Today. So, first of all, this is a thank you to all you cigar smokers, and cigar lovers, and folks just interested in the world of cigars—you are the ones who made this possible.
After more than 100 Big Smoke notches on my belt, you might think I could never be surprised by the event. But the Big Smoke Las Vegas this past weekend was another amazing couple of nights, bringing together cigar lovers from around the globe and the United States.
It is a little hard to describe the pride we feel here at Cigar Aficionado. Twenty years ago, the world kept telling us that it was a bad idea to launch a cigar magazine, that there was no future in it. But thanks to Marvin Shanken’s vision and passion, he ignored all the naysayers and plunged ahead with the project. Today in 2012, we have enjoyed an incredible two decade run of success, all the while having a lot of fun and remaining true to our original mission of educating the world about the pleasures and joys of not only a good cigar, but the good life too.
I wrote an editor’s note for the July/August issue of Cigar Aficionado wondering about the implication of a proposed regulation for New York City apartments that requires them to have a written smoking policy. Of course, it opens the door for smoke-free buildings, and I suggested, given the track record of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms in office, that it was only a matter of time before this “optional” written policy outlining a building’s rules would lead to an explicit indoor smoking ban in all apartment residences. That’s just the nature of the fight against tobacco today.
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