Cigar Aficionado


I spent New Year’s Eve with some of the same people that I celebrated with 30 years ago. Yeah, they are really great old friends, including my then-girlfriend, now my wife. The mother of my daughter’s best friend joined the party, too. My daughter and her friend were there for the food, and then departed to meet with friends at their own parties.

Back in 1977, I got to the celebration at an apartment on 22nd Street in New York City shortly after midnight because I had been working the night shift at the Associated Press. But the revelry was still in full swing, just as it was two nights ago; this time, however, I had been there all night.

For many of these last 30 years, we have indulged in Raclette cheese with new red potatoes, cornichons and some pickled onions. In the party’s traditional form, we’d light a big fire and figure out some makeshift way to melt the cheese right in front of the fire. Over the years, sanity prevailed, and we bought an electric Raclette melter (yes, they do exist) that would sit neatly on the table, the cheese unadorned with the drops of sweat off my brow from sitting in front of the blazing fire.

But in honor of the tradition’s 30th anniversary, we reverted to the original method. It was hot in front of the fire, but I have to say that the cheese tasted better than it does from under the electric melter, and I wasn’t even sweating….too much. We also changed another element of the menu; we used to have an appetizer of foie gras, but after too many years of feeling way over-indulged afterwards, we served a salad this year instead. Oh yeah, I forgot—we started with some caviar this year!

What was different this year from the original party was the cigars. My friend Matthew and I left the ladies in front of the fire exploring great tunes on our wireless music system, and we went to the humidor. We both wanted Cubans. I don’t keep a lot at the house, and many of the ones there are gifts from friends, and therefore, unbanded and mysterious. I chose a panatela, probably an El Rey del Mundo, and Matthew picked a luscious Colorado-hued corona; my guess was a Paratagas.

They were both wonderful cigars. I poured a bit of Ron Zacapa 23-year-old rum, and Matthew stuck with the Nicolas Feuillatte Rose Champagne that we’d been drinking all night. We watched some of Dick Clark’s show on ABC and talked about the last 30 years, our kids, our lives, his business and my business. In other words, a wonderful hour spent with a very old and very dear friend smoking two great cigars.

Since the TV is in the smoking room, we cleared out the air a few minutes before midnight, and called to the ladies to come join us for the dropping of the ball in Times Square. Kisses and hugs all around, and then we went out separate ways. But not before I promised that we were going back to the electric melter on New Year’s Eve 2008.

"Funny thing about celebrations these days...they rarely include cigars. I can't think of a wedding or birthday or holiday in recent memory where I was able to smoke, at least one that was held indoors. Gordon has the right idea. If you want to have a party that includes cigars -- and really, what party couldn't be improved with cigars? -- you have to throw it yourself. Happy New Year!" —January 2, 2008 12:26 PM
"Family, The MOST important thing! Bravo Gordon! I spent New Years Eve with My Wife our son and good friends. A local casino, Great food, and to enjoy cigars with my Son, I am truly a blessed man.Happy New Year! " —January 3, 2008 17:40 PM