Marvin R. Shanken interviews the man behind Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Linda Evangelista, Autumn 95
(continued from page 11)
C.A.: What kind of cigar are they looking for--a mild cigar, a strong cigar, more flavorful?
Blumenthal: I don't know. That's something that if I knew, I would be much more successful than I am. I started smoking when I was 16 years old. I started to smoke cigarettes, and my father told me he couldn't stop me from smoking. After all, he was in the cigar business. But he says that if you gotta smoke, smoke a pipe or smoke cigars. He called cigarettes 'coffin nails.' That was the expression they had when he was young.
I started with a very light cigar, a panetela. In fact, I remember there was a brand called Something Special that was a very big brand in New York City. It was made with a Sumatra wrapper. Then I graduated to Havana cigars. When I say Havana I mean Havana cigars made here. As the years progressed and I progressed, I started to smoke Cuban cigars. So I started very light. Then, I wanted something with a bit more taste and finally something stronger, so I moved up to Cubans. That's what's going to happen to everyone. They're going to smoke the very light cigars and find that eventually they want something a little more meaty. The manufacturer is going have to make a more meaty cigar.
C.A.: Could you give us more details about your history in the cigar industry?
Blumenthal: Well, my father was in the cigar business. He had retail stores in New York City, and I started as most kids do, helping out after school. I delivered boxes for him, or I filled in at his store when I was a teenager.
C.A.: Where was his store?
Blumenthal: He had one at 88th and Broadway, one on Christopher Street in the Village and one at 49th Street and Broadway.
C.A.: Which store did you work in?
Blumenthal: All of them. Then I worked as a salesman, after school, selling a cigar called Gonzales & Sanchez and Cuesta-Rey, which was from the original Cuesta-Rey people. I worked for the representative in New York for about two years.
C.A.: How old were you when you first started working, helping your dad?
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