A luxury suite at Yankee Stadium. Your own barrel of George Dickel whiskey. The chance to meet golfing legends Nick Faldo and Tony Jacklin. A humidor representing 120 hours of painstaking labor. A dinner with legends of wine and cigars.
All of these remarkable experiences and more were auctioned off at Cigar Aficionado's 19th annual Night to Remember dinner. Last night's event raised some $1.2 million to help cure prostate cancer.
The setting was the Four Seasons restaurant in midtown Manhattan, and more than 200 guests arrived in black tie for a smoky cocktail hour featuring many of the cigar world's most revered brands, followed by a rich dinner of squab risotto and sirloin steak with wines by M. Chapoutier and Caymus. When the meal was complete, waiters brought out Flor de las Antillas Toros, Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramides and Padrón Family Reserve 85 Years, Cigar Aficionado's Nos. 1, 3 and 4 cigars of 2012.
I had a birds-eye view of the auction, as I was called up to the podium by Marvin R. Shanken to assist Gordon Mott, who took over Marvin's traditional role as auctioneer. Gordon stepped into the role with style, keeping the energy in the room high as he described each lot and encouraged the bidding, which tended to be heavy. Michael Milken, Rush Limbaugh, Jaime Coulter and Lee Einsidler were among the active bidders. (Look for Greg Mottola's comprehensive piece on the event for complete details of what was auctioned.)
I've been attending the Night to Remember for many years now, and it always strikes me how people bond during the evening—even people who were once enemies of a sort. Rush Limbaugh spoke of how he and John Salley were once antagonists, but have become friendly. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who made the dinner despite a busy media day giving comments about the tragic terror attack in Boston, actually prosecuted Michael Milken years ago, but today the two are cordial as they have united in a common cause to stamp out prostate cancer, a disease that has affected both men.
After the event was over, few wanted the night to end. Many made their way to other places around the city to continue the cigar smoking and great conversation. As the clock struck midnight, I settled into my chair at Grand Havana, sipped an after-dinner Scotch and lit up another cigar. Around me were members of the cigar industry: Carlos Fuente Jr., Jorge Padrón, Rocky and Nish Patel, the Levin family from Ashton, Pete Johnson, Janny Garcia, Jim Young of Davidoff, Bill Paley of La Palina, the Sherman brothers and Michael Herklots and many others. It was an evening that was hard to top, a true night to remember.