Jack Bettridge

Jack Bettridge
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The Cigar and Cognac Conundrum

Posted: Jul 31, 2007 3:43pm ET
Sometimes this antismoking dementia gets in the way of my doing my job.

The other night I was invited to a dinner hosted by Remy Martin. The point was to show off its 1738 Accord Royal, technically a VSOP, but the company characterizes it as being a notch above that premium level, even while its not old enough to be termed XO. Standard Remy VSOP sells for $36.99, the 1738 version for $49.99. Like all Remy products, it’s a blend of eaux-de-vie that comes strictly from the Champagne crus of Cognac (so called for their especially chalky soil and not to be confused with Champagne region and its sparkling wines). In this case, the Cognac is 65 percent Grand Champagne and 35 percent Petite Champagne. The name, 1738 Accord Royal, stems from an eighteenth century degree from Louis XV that allowed Remy to extend its grape production in an era when new plantings were prohibited.

A Smoke After A Smoky Meal

Posted: Jul 20, 2007 2:53pm ET
Normally, the news that my livery car is running 15 minutes late doesn’t make me happy, but last night was an exception.

Savona and I had just left dinner very pleased, having been the guests of Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (ward.uat.dminsite.com/) of Kansas City, Missouri, which was hosting at the James Beard House in lower Manhattan. It’s always a great place to eat (former home of the iconic American chef, home to the foundation of the same name), but this meal was particularly satisfying. My penchant for barbecue is well enough known that I don’t have to go over that. But think of this: Hors d’Oeuvres included Hickory-Smoked Salmon with Toast Points and Rémoulade, Berkshire Pork Medallions with Spicy Barbecue Sauce and Mini Hickory-Smoked Kobe Prime Rib Sandwiches with Horseradish Sauce. Kobe beef BBQ? Oh my God!

Why a Culebra?

Posted: Jul 17, 2007 11:07am ET
The culebra cigar shape has always flummoxed me. Spanish for snake, a culebra is a crooked viper of a cigar, usually packaged in a set of three intertwined around each other. It’s novel, but what would possess anyone to roll tobacco in that way? They’re hard to package, weird to smoke and they don’t fit in any cigar case I know of.

Sharp’ning Up Your Cocktail Talk

Posted: Jun 29, 2007 12:21pm ET
Every year dictionary publishers and language arbiters announce with some fanfare words that they have decided to add to the lexicon. Because of the relentless march of technology, many of them are terms that sprout from the conversation of computer buffs and other such electronically obsessed types: blogging, podcasts, texting, for example.

Further Adventures in Spotting Smokers

Posted: Jun 19, 2007 4:14pm ET
Earlier I blogged about a game I like to play that I call “Seen Smoking.” Not much to it essentially except spotting people smoking cigars. Sometimes it’s on the street, other times it’s in the media or celebrity life.

Sunday, I had a particularly good sighting while watching “Entourage,” the HBO series that just began its second season of the year. (It ran for a number of episodes in the time slot following “The Sopranos,” then took a week off when “The Sopranos” had its final episode and it just restarted in what is being called a separate season—these things were easier to follow years ago when every season began in September, but I digress.)

The Power of Positive Drinking

Posted: Jun 7, 2007 3:15pm ET
It’s almost like the power of positive drinking…
…strike that…
…positive thinking.
I’ve no sooner put to bed a story on rum for Cigar Aficionado (August 2007 issue) than arrives from the trade organization The Rums of Puerto Rico (www.rumcapital.com) an insulated backpack (with a set of luggage wheels, no less) that contains a bottle each of Don Q Cristal and Don Q Citrus Rum.

Gentlemen, You May Grill

Posted: May 23, 2007 2:50pm ET
It’s finally that time of year—in the New York area anyway—when you can go home in the evening and your patio grill beckons you to go out and put fire to high-grade meat.

This reason I bring this up is that in the coming issue of Cigar Aficionado—August—the Good Life Guide will feature a piece on fantastic stainless steel grills for which Savona and I did extensive research (read: we called in grills from Wolf, Weber, Viking and Ducane and fired them up every chance we got to cook a panorama of different cuts). Now, far be it for me to complain, but what kept this experience from being ideal is that because of deadline constraints we started the process in the dead of winter in order to get the story to you by that day in July—or whatever—on which the issue actually comes out.

Smoking and Drinking

Posted: May 11, 2007 4:32pm ET
This is a response to Savona’s most recent blog:

The bigger question is where to smoke and drink.

Sure, it’s hard to find a place to smoke, but doing that in conjunction with a fine whisky or other brown water is the toughest. It’s a Catch 22. You can drink in a bar, but you have to walk outside to smoke. But unless it’s a bar with a patio, you can’t take the drink with you—at least in the jurisdictions I frequent.

Sometimes You Get More Than You Pay For

Posted: Apr 23, 2007 5:02pm ET
Case in point: the promotional gift that just arrived on my desk with an invitation to a luncheon celebrating tourism in the state of Kentucky. It’s a miniature baseball bat from Louisville Slugger, about 15 inches long. Normally, you have to tour the factory to get a piece of wood like this, and while it may not seem very useful, I’ve found that if you like to serve Mint Juleps at this time of year, you can’t have enough of them.

Travelling Through Egypt

Posted: Apr 17, 2007 1:50pm ET
Day Two: In a Cairo Smoking Lounge

Imagine an open air bar with tarps for ceilings (sort of like the ones they use for Connecticut shade tobacco). Divans are everywhere, with patrons lying out and smoking from hookahs. It’s sort of the same mental image you get from the phrase opium den, but everyone’s smoking tobacco—flavored tobacco, but tobacco nonetheless.

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