Head South For The Big Smoke—The Big Smoke Miami

Cigar Aficionado

Remembering the Good Old Days

Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 20th anniversary celebration for Food Arts magazine, another publication in the M. Shanken Communications world. The magazine’s audience is mostly limited to white tablecloth restaurants and top chefs, but it is truly an amazing food magazine run by Michael and Arianne Batterberry. The chefs and restaurateurs in attendance would wow any foodie from anywhere in the world: Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Emeril Lagasse, Drew Nieporent, Mario Batali, and Susanna Foo were among the many celebrity chefs at the dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

But if happened once, it happened half a dozen times. Ken Aretsky of Patroon in New York asked me jokingly where we’re going to have cigars. Drew Nieporent said he had to leave one outside on the sidewalk because he couldn’t walk inside the Plaza with it. Adam Tihany, one of the top restaurant designers in the world, wanted to know when we could light up. No one seriously thought we could because the smoking laws in New York City are very well known, but just the joking tone was enough to reveal how much we all missed even the possibility of having a cigar after the meal.

It used to be, in those halcyon days before smoking bans, that every M. Shanken Communications dinner or gala event came complete with cigars and a fine selection of spirits for after the meal. Whether it was in New York, Miami, Las Vegas or even San Francisco in the early 1990s, the cigars would come out and people would light up. At the Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience gala banquet every year, it didn’t take long after dessert was cleared that you could smell the unmistakable aroma of a hand-rolled cigar; that even occurred for a few years after the smoking bans had been passed.

But times have changed. No one expects cigars and very few people arrive at the dinner ready to smoke. Hotels and banquet halls have gotten very specific in their rules and regulations so it is impossible to “break” the law without causing problems. As a result, everyone is reduced to joking about smoking a cigar and letting their nostalgia fill in for the true pleasure of having a post-dinner smoke.

Too bad. Whoever thought I’d be talking the good old days.

"Gordon, I read with a smile on my face and sadness in my heart. These were the good old days and are missed, but remembered fondly.Hopefully, someday our country will remember one of the principles that made our country great, "freedom of choice". I know, the local restaurants and or bars no longer get as much of my business. Sundays watching football games are now spent at home where I can light up without a flag thrown on me by anti-enjoyment official.The one good thing is I do have more money in my pocket now, but I would gladly give it to thsoe establishments, with a smile if I could light up after enjoying a meal and a few cocktails.For now, I will sit at home and like you, remember the good old days. " —September 25, 2008 05:46 AM