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DR Cigar Fest—The Parties

Every night of the ProCigar Festival ended with a party. And they were pretty darn good ones, too.

I’ve been to the Dominican Republic dozens of times since joining Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1995, but I rarely see any more of the city than tobacco fields, cigar factories or restaurants. Thursday night was my first visit to the Monument to The Heroes of the Restoration in the town’s center, a 220 foot tall landmark created in the 1940s. The cocktail party began there, with locals dressed in the type of festive garb worn in parades and plenty of rum and great music.

Some of the kids were wielding whips that sounded like they were outfitted with firecrackers, so I spent my first 15 minutes or so holding a Brugal and Coke in one hand while trying to stay far enough away to avoid getting the old Indiana Jones treatment. Take a look.

This was one of the times at the Festival were there weren’t any cigars being passed around, which I found pretty strange. (Maybe it was for safety—no need to make an easier target for the kid with the whip.) That small criticism aside, after an hour or so we headed to Centro de Recreo, a private club dating back to the 1800s, for the party proper.

It was time for another Cuba Libre (rum and Coke), in this case one made with well-aged, amber colored Brugal, which makes a Cuba Libre with gusto and flavor, unlike those made with white rum, which I don’t like at all. And now there were cigars aplenty, passed out by elegant women with cigar trays, like the cigarette girls of Las Vegas.

I spoke for awhile with Daniel Núñez, president of General Cigar, chatted with Jose Seijas of Altadis U.S.A. Inc., caught up with Manuel Quesada, maker of Fonsecas, then had a short conversation with Benjie Menendez from General Cigar and Avo Uvezian, creator of the Avo brand. When it was time to sit down and watch the next show, I sat with Guillermo León, who was in good spirits.

I think everyone attending more than enjoyed themselves. The ProCigar group really put on a fine show. Tomorrow, I’ll show you some of the cigars that were given out at the Festival and wrap up the coverage.
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