Dropping In On An Old Friend
Posted: Jun 15, 2007 12:17pm ET
Yesterday afternoon I drove to Garden City, Long Island, to catch up with an old friend of mine, George Brightman. George worked at Cigar Aficionado for 10 years, right from the very beginning of the magazine. His official title was director of business development, but his unofficial moniker was cigar guru. He knew just about everything about cigars and taught me a great deal about the business.
Before George worked at Cigar Aficionado, he sold cigars, and he’s returned to the retail business. I was in Garden City to see the new shop he’s running: J Barbera Tobacconist.
When I pulled up to 990 Franklin Ave. I had to dial the shop on the phone, because I couldn’t find it. It’s so new the signs aren't up yet. But it’s open for business, and it’s loaded with cigars. I think George has every Fuente they make in stock (would you like natural or maduro wrap on that Hemingway Best Seller?) plus humidors loaded with everything from Litto Gomez, Manuel Quesada, all the Gurkhas…you get the point.
George is a walking encyclopedia of cigars. As I fired up an Arturo Fuente Royal Salute (Sun Grown Wrapper), he torched a La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet and we talked cigars. We talked about smoking bans, tasting notes, cigar makers on the rise…a little bit of everything. We also spoke about how shops like this one, which has a huge smoking lounge, are becoming the last refuges of American cigar smokers. And one of the last places where you can truly interact with those from your community.
“I defy you to find an institution,” said George, punctuating his point with his half-smoked cigar, “that fosters and encourages that remarkable intersection of people as does the cigar business.”
He’s right. Get out to your local store, fire up a great cigar and talk politics, sports or whatever is on your mind with your fellow cigar smokers. And if you’re in Garden City, drop in on George and say hello.
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