Cigar Aficionado

A Political Moment

I won’t presume anybody’s political leanings here. But I doubt anyone would argue with the statement that the 2008 Presidential election was one of the most important in American history. Regardless of whether your guy won or lost, you will have been present at a moment that will go down in the history books, and be noted 100 years or more from now. Partly because of its historic magnitude, there have been hundreds of stories told by people who were moved on election night to celebrate when their guy, now President-elect Barack Obama, won.

This is one of my favorites, and one that every cigar aficionado can appreciate.

Fifteen years ago, Garrett Oliver wrote a story for Cigar Aficionado about the renaissance in the art of beer brewing. He was, and is, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, a fine microbrewery that has a big presence on the East Coast. I had all sorts of connections with that world, since one of my best friends started one of the first microbreweries on the East Coast, New Amsterdam Beer, back in the early 1980s. But having Oliver write a piece of on the subject was like having Brett Favre write a book about quarterbacking.  I had forgotten that during a post-publication visit, I had given Oliver a Fuente Fuente OpusX, a cigar that had hit the market about the time he wrote the story.

Here’s the e-mail I got from Mr. Oliver last week:

“Greetings from Brooklyn. Twelve years ago, I wrote an article for you about beer. You gave me an OpusX, which has spent those long years in my humidor. Marriage came and went, books were written, breweries were erected, houses were built, and still the cigar lay dormant. On Election Night, at 11:05 pm, I lit that cigar. And even though my humidor is full of Cohiba and his cohorts, it was the best cigar I've ever smoked. So thanks, and I hope this note finds you well.”

We all search for those perfect moments to enjoy that one cigar that we’ve been saving for just the right time. Garrett Oliver reminded me again how cigar aficionados truly cherish those great moments, and enhance them with one of their favorite things in life: a great cigar.

"Well, hopefully President-elect Barack Obama can have some understanding of the nation-wide smoking ban that has become extremely draconian in many aspects similar to Prohibition, and allow there to be more new cigar clubs and bars open to those who freely accept the risks of tobacco smoke.He along with the CAA [Cigar Association of America], members of the cigar industry, CRA [Cigar Rights of America], the IPCPR Executive Board and tobacco lobbyists should work together with key congressional leaders to negotiate a tax plan that would provide the funds needed for the SCHIP program, and yet keep the cigar industry alive and healthy, and taxed at a sustainable level. President-elect Barack Obama has admitted to being a long-term smoker in the medical records he released to the public during his presidential campaign. Now, he's quitting. But he occasionally falls off the wagon, as recent photos of him smoking cigarettes attest.However, his physician has given him a clean bill of health ... and he's now switched from cigarettes to nicotine gum. Maybe he should smoke a premium cigar for his inaugural celebration as the alternate to a cigarette." —December 11, 2008 19:16 PM
"I just hope that Obama doesn't sign the SCHIP tax into law." —November 29, 2008 18:42 PM