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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 5)

When you smoke cigars you never know who you might run into. As a landscape and wildlife photographer, I travel quite extensively to some of the most beautiful places on earth. During a recent trip to Aspen, Colorado, to shoot wildflowers at the Maroon Bells wilderness area, my photographic sidekick, Tom Kennedy, and I found ourselves on the receiving end of cigar praise from a most esteemed aficionado.

We had just used up the good morning light and put away several rolls of film. It was time to celebrate with a couple of fine cigars. As we headed down the trail to the truck, our tripods slung over our shoulders, we passed by a man wearing dark sunglasses. We really didn't pay much attention, until we heard him talking (the voice was very familiar). Ten paces later we both looked at each other, then gazed back up the trail; "Jack Nicholson!" we said in stereo.

Upon reaching the truck we dug into our cache and pulled out two Joya De Nicaraguas and a pint bottle of Red Hook's Double Black Stout (a very nice combination), walked back to the trail head and sat on a big rock to toast a fine day of shooting. Not too far into our cigars we noticed Mr. Nicholson checking us out from afar, probably thinking of us as a couple of paparazzi. Not being the case, we continued to enjoy our cigars and made no move to grab our cameras. He then continued down the trail and right up to the base of the rock where we sat. Politely we tipped our cigars. He stood there looking us up and down, placed his hands in his pockets and with that unmistakable style and voice said, "Excellent, gentlemen. Excellent!"

Robert E. Long II
Lake Forest, California

***

Editor's note: I received this copy of a letter from Rich Andresen of Dallas, Texas. I wanted to share it with you.

To: Steve Bartolin, president
The Broadmoor
cc: Marvin Shanken
I recently spent four nights at the Broadmoor. After hearing so much for so long about the Broadmoor, I am pleased to say that it met or exceeded my expectations in all areas, except one. The service is exceptional, the food is four-star and the surroundings are majestic. Truly a "class act." However, I am sorry to say that I find your policy regarding smoking to be arbitrary and not at all in keeping with your image.

Most establishments which have a reputation for fine food, fine wines and in general the finer things in life, have an appreciation for fine cigars as well. I am very surprised and disappointed that the Broadmoor does not.

However, allowing the smoking of cigarettes and disallowing the smoking of cigars goes beyond a lack of culture; it is an outright insult. Put simply, cigarettes stink. They are full of chemicals and paper which produce an acrid and irritating smoke. Cigars, on the other hand, are not made with paper or chemicals, and produce a fragrant, rich aroma. Yet to take the provincial and arbitrary position that cigarette smoking is acceptable and cigar smoking is not, I think you need to reexamine your policy in this area.

I went into your Terrace Lounge to have some Port with the company of friends after a truly fine meal in the Tavern. When I lit a rather expensive and very fine cigar, I was asked to leave! And the people all around were smoking nasty smelling cigarettes and were treated with dignity. This is utterly ridiculous. I would suggest that you consider smoking in general as something you allow or disallow in various areas of the Broadmoor.

Contrary to what you may expect from my feelings expressed so far, I would have no problem with a no-smoking policy in any of the restaurants or other areas which may be designated non-smoking, including non-smoking rooms. However, I can't respect a bar which permits cigarette smoking and bans cigar smoking. Where is the logic in this? Is someone in a cigarette smoke-filled bar going to complain about cigars? You might consider a smoking section or even a cigar smoking section where cigarettes are not allowed, but banning cigars altogether is arbitrary and actually quite unbelievable, especially at a fine establishment like the Broadmoor. You might even consider a special bar, lounge or other area for cigar lovers, specializing in fine Ports, Cognacs and single malt Scotches along with a selection of fine cigars. You might be very surprised at how many of your customers (including the ladies) would appreciate this. You would no doubt receive mention in Cigar Aficionado magazine as well. I have enclosed a copy of this beautiful magazine for your enjoyment.

I must ask you to give some serious thought to this policy. It is outdated, arbitrary and very offensive. As much as I like everything else about the Broadmoor, I find this completely unacceptable and an obstacle to my future patronage. I would also like to suggest that until you change this policy, that you make your policy in this clear in your advertising.

Rich Andresen
Dallas, Texas

Editor's note: Rich, America needs more thoughtful, discriminating people like you. Thanks for politely expressing "our" view.

***

Dear Marvin,

I am writing to you in the hope that, by publishing this letter, some sort of etiquette on helping yourself from one's host cigar box can be established.

The facts are simple: The first guests to a drinks party I was giving were about to arrive and I had just a slight hesitation about leaving my see-through acrylic humidor in its usual place, in the sitting room. I thought to myself that since I had invited only friends, most of them colleagues from the diplomatic community in Tel Aviv and some of them neighbors from the highly sophisticated Israeli bohemia of Jaffa, there was no reason to assume that anything could go wrong.

In fact, the worst happened. Around the time the party was supposed to end, I saw one of my Jaffa neighbors puffing (obviously with great delight) what looked suspiciously like a Cohiba Robusto. I said to him that I was happy that I had found a fellow cigar lover among my friends. He told me, candidly, that he had taken his own cigars with him but that, "Cohiba is of course much better."

The point is that my humidor had quite a few Cohibas but only one robusto left, the one I have been dreaming of finding that perfect situation that "deserved" it! (Even on my 40th birthday I opted for a Lancero because the dinner was not outstanding, although quite excellent.)

The only partially comforting thought that has kept at large murderous intents has been the hope that the recipient of my unsolicited generosity reads Cigar Aficionado.

Jorge Torres-Pereira
Jaffa, Israel

***

Dear Marvin,

Family coming to visit? Beware! Lock up your humidor. Here's why.

It was last summer and my brother-in-law, wife and I flew to California to visit their dad. It had been a while since we all had been together and we were looking forward to a good time filled with good food, drink and golf. The weekend surpassed our expectations, which included a quick jaunt to the Monterey Peninsula. However, the last evening of the trip was about to be marred by my cigar inexperience.

My father-in-law had been at his office all day, and assuming that it would be OK to have a cigar from his humidor, I proceeded to evaluate which I thought would be a good smoke. The previous year I had been experimenting and enjoying cigar smoking, although it was infrequent and collegiate. I am sure that some of the selections I had chosen during that year had the owners of smoke shops laughing their asses off after I had left.

Consequently, I choose a cigar because it had a good-looking box and had a name that made it sound prestigious. I knew nothing of its history, its properties or value. Without a second thought I lit up what, even to my inexperienced palate, evaluated as a pretty damn good cigar! Upon my father-in-law's arrival home, he was greeted with the most glorious aroma.

The details that followed I cannot quite recall (I believe it is my psyche attempting to block out my stupidity). As it turned out, I had helped myself to one of Mr. Davidoff's last legacies from the land of Cuba. A Davidoff Dom Perignon. My father-in-law had painstakingly kept these beauties alive and well for the past two decades. He himself limited their smoking to one a decade!

Talk about a good reason for locking up your humidor. After this incident I committed to becoming more knowledgeable and experienced regarding cigars. My primary source of information was Cigar Aficionado with a little help from the local smoking club and shop. Thanks to that, I've had a chance to apologize to my father-in-law, who is an avid reader, a true aficionado and one hell of a guy.

Thank you for the education and this opportunity to apologize for the error of my ways.

R.S.
Darnestown, Maryland

***

Dear Marvin,

It was a beautiful day as I left the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. I stopped at 4th Avenue and 4th Street and lit my cigar while waiting for the walk signal. A young lady, with lots of hardware drilled into her nose, looked at me and snarled "disgusting." As my blue cigar smoke swirled upward, bound for the ozone layer, the light changed. She stridently stomped into the intersection and was narrowly missed by a driver running the red light.


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