Cigar Aficionado


It’s being called the year with no summer in the Northeast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about sitting out on a patio, or my back terrace to have a cigar and ended up watching another torrential downpour through the windows. I read it is not like the summer of 1816, when there was still ice on New England rivers in July, but this past June in New York was tied for the seventh coldest on record and the second wettest since 1869, according to the National Weather Service.

So, when I was up in Saratoga Springs for the July 4th weekend, and it was a pleasantly warm (not hot) Friday evening that promised to remain dry, I went out on my mother-in-law’s balcony. I had a glass of red Burgundy and a La Flor Dominicana Coronado Double Corona; my wife was keeping me company, and our Belgian Sheepdog, Chloe, was sorta at our feet, pacing around looking down at the carriages trundling up and down the street. We were sitting there enjoying the balmy temperature, chatting about some future travel plans and how nice it was to be outside. From the balcony of the apartment building across the street, I picked up a whiff of another cigar. I recognized the outline of a friend with whom I had been trading “call me when you’re in Saratoga” remarks for a couple of years, but we had never managed to actually connect on previous visits, even though his apartment is directly across the street.

It was late, so for an instant I thought about just keeping my mouth shut, but we had just been discussing stepping out to seize the moment, so I shouted out, “hey, Lee, keep it down over there, would ya?” The exchange that followed had the feel of some old New York neighborhood back at the turn of century with people trading friendly jabs from their fire escapes. Lee finally said, “come on over and have a cocktail, I’ve got cigars too. Bring the dog.” Turns out they had been watching the dog pace back and forth, but couldn’t see into the shadows who was sitting there.

We did go over, and spent the next hour talking about family, horses, dogs and what a great town Saratoga has become. I turned down his offer of a cigar because I still had my La Flor going, but I had another glass (or two) of wine, something I ended up regretting in the morning. But not that night. It was a wonderful evening of camaraderie, and a shared cigar. Doesn’t get better than that.

"Dear Gordon,My wife complains about living in SoCal because there are no "seasons." I tell her she's mistaken because it's winter in the morning (sometimes it's like 45 degrees!), spring/summer during the day, and autumn at night. What we do have, regrettably, is a dearth of rain. Of course, that makes for ample cigar-enjoyment opportunities. And fires! So, while I realize it's all the way on the Pacific coast, please do visit early and often.AB" —July 10, 2009 12:27 PM