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James Suckling

Day 3: Watering Holes and New Cigars

Posted: Feb 6, 2008 9:06am ET
Is El Floridita the best bar on earth? New York has the Café Carlyle Hotel. Paris has the American Bar in the Ritz. And Los Angeles has Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Sure those are cool. And the ambience, drinks and service are superb. But you can’t smoke in any of them.

The Daiquiris at El Floridita are fantastic – fresh, lemony and light. I always ask Alejandro, the main barman, to use seven-year-old rum, instead of the young
firewater rum most places use for cocktails. I appreciate the story that Ernest Hemingway drink his Daiquiris at El Floridita and his mojitos at Bodeguita del Medio. Not only could the guy write, but he was also a great drinker. And he had good taste.



I went to the El Floridita after bizarre dinner at the Polynesian restaurant in the Havana Libre. The food was a mixture of greasy smoked meats and frozen Chinese food crossed with leather. Did people really eat stuff like this in the 1950s? No wonder my parent’s generation have such high cholesterol now! Frank Sinatra would roll over in his grave, if he knew. To add salt to the wounds, the wine was cooked. This is how I remember “dining” in Cuba in the early 1990s. Terrible.

It’s a shame because the Havana Libre, where the restaurant is located, is beautiful. If I remember correctly, it was completed in 1958 but was soon rebranded after the revolution. Years ago I went to the Penthouse there and saw where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara controlled the island when they entered Havana as victors of the revolution. There are also some amazing paintings in the penthouse from Porto Correos. I'd love to go back there again.

I did get the chance to smoke a prototype yesterday of the new H. Upmann Magnum 50, which is a beautiful and balanced smoke. (I mentioned it in yesterday's blog.) It showed loads of cappuccino, cream, mellow tobacco character. It was super fresh and clean. It was hard to put it down. The Magnum first appeared four years ago as a limitada for 2005 and it’s been a sought-after smoke every since. I am not sure if it is the name more than the actual cigar. Who is not going to be cool and smoke a Magnum? And it’s the second in the line of Magnums -- the other being the Magnum 46. I wouldn’t be surprised if we would see a few other Magnums coming out in the future, just like we have seen other Partagas Serie cigars.

There’s also a line extension to Epicure. I can’t wait to smoke the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial, which was an Edicion Limitada in 2004. It should be out on the market in a few months.

Another thing you should be on the look out for very soon is a number of new tubes. Some of these new tubes are going to blow your mind – super hipster
packaging. But I promised not to divulge anything at the moment about that. I should have more information for you in a couple of weeks.

That’s all for now. I have to get ready to leave this morning for Pinar del Río to check out the tobacco fields. Speak to you later.

Comments   1 comment(s)

M M — Chicago —  February 6, 2008 2:47pm ET

It has been said here before many times, but Suckling you might have one of the most desirable jobs in America. Now, if you could golf on the courses that Marvin gets to play on, you would have the best gig.



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