Monday, December 3, 2012

Montecristi – Part 1



Montecristi - Before Service
A couple years back, I picked up a really nice Montecristi hat.  It fit wonderfully and looked sharp.  Well, it used to look sharp.  From what I deem was a combination of not being properly blocked before it came into my possession, coupled with my having worn it while working a few outdoor cigar events in some humid and inclement weather, it is one Ecuadorian that has seen sharper days.  This wear and tear is pretty apparent in this picture – the crown is in decent shape, but the brim has lost all structure.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Complete Faith in a Brand

When you trust a brand, not only can you buy with confidence, but you can also use and recommend their products with the full expectation that the manufacturer will uphold their pledge for quality and reliability.
While not truly a mascot, Cigartender does have a company dog.  Appropriately, her name is derived from cigars.  She is a black Labrador named Maduro Belicoso, or Maddie Belle for short.  That’s a picture of her over there.  Next to her is her latest toy, as though she needed another.  It is a Tuffy brand octopus, made by VIP Products (www.mydogtoy.com).  Costing nearly twenty bucks, it’s certainly not inexpensive.  However, I have learned from experience that the quality of their products more than justifies their price.
 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let It Out!


Smoking a cigar is a matter of relaxation, tasting, and enjoyment.  In order to maximize that experience you need to provide the cigar with the optimal circumstances for its talents to emerge.  One critical detail is to not smoke the cigar too quickly.   Beyond smoking at a relaxed pace to keep the tobacco burning with a cool, rich smoke, it’s also useful to keep the body of the cigar clean to allow your palate to experience the purest smoke possible.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Advantages of a Large Humidor


Adirondack Reclaimed Wood 100 Cigar Humidor
Humidors come in all shapes and sizes and are made from all manner of things.  You can make a humidor out of a plastic storage container, a cooler, an antique cabinet, or any other form of container that you can get to seal fairly tightly.  Or you can just buy a humidor.
While humidors come in all sizes, they are easier to manage when they are of a minimum size of say 100 cigars.  You can get by with a 50 cigar humidor, but you’ll soon find yourself running out of space and wishing you could build out an addition. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What’s in a Name? The House of Rothschild

I think there are a couple accomplishments that one can use as a barometer as to whether or not you have “made it” yet.  Guest starring on Sesame Street is an honor that seems to be handed out even more selectively than getting the guest hosting gig on Saturday Night Live.  There is also the mark of achievement that I’ll never attain, which is also a harbinger of the end of your career, that being your own show in Vegas.  How about something that we can all readily relate to the coolness factor: having a cigar size named in your honor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Enjoy Your Cigar More: Slow Down!

Stinky Cigar Personal Ashtray
In order to optimally enjoy a great cigar you’ve actually got to spend more time not smoking it than smoking it.  Premium tobacco is rich, flavorful, and somewhat fragile.  It is necessary to draw on a cigar frequently enough to keep it burning steadily.  An unattended cigar will quietly go out.  However, if you smoke a cigar constantly you will almost certainly compromise the taste by overheating the burn.  So how do you slow down?  Use an ashtray.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Not to Bleed a Lighter

It is important and good housekeeping to bleed any remaining pressure out of your butane lighter before refilling it.  This removes any air and old butane from the fuel tank so you can refill it completely with fresh clean butane.  You can try to cut corners and top off the tank because you don’t want to take the time or waste the butane to bleed it dry when you still have a decent amount of fuel in it.  Most of the time this will work ok, but sometimes the residual air that has gotten into the tank will disrupt a proper flame.  It really is best to just sacrifice anything remaining in the tank and make a clean start.  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, here’s one method to avoid when bleeding the tank.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are All Cigars Good?

No!  All cigars are not good.  This is a personal opinion.  This is also the official opinion of Cigartender.com.  We guarantee that any cigar that we sell is a good cigar.  You may disagree, which is ok, because everyone’s palate is different.  Some retailers seem to come from the opinion that there is no such thing as a bad cigar, since there is a cigar for everyone out there.  This may be what they believe, or it may be driven by their desire to find high margin products and hope that their customer accepts the way a cigar tastes and smokes “just must be how it’s supposed to smoke”.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back Off The Flame!

Chemistry class, or good old harmless experimenting in the garage or shop, taught us that some things burn more easily than others.  While we often think that flame makes things burn, it’s actually heat that makes materials catch fire, or incinerate.  So when you light your cigar it’s not happening because you hold the flame to the foot and make it burn.  Your cigar burns because you bring a heat source close enough to cause the tobacco to reach its burning point.
Tobacco burns in the neighborhood of 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  Properly stored cigars have higher moisture content than dry materials so it takes a little more time to ignite.  It is also the humidity content that causes your cigar to smolder elegantly instead of bursting into a brush fire.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The First Name in Cigar Cutters

The enjoyment of a premium cigar is a wonderfully basic pursuit.  First you need a great cigar.  Next you need a way to open the head of the cigar, so you can draw air through it.  Last you need some means of lighting the tobacco at the foot so you can enjoy the rich and flavorful smoke.  I would also argue that you need a great ashtray because I’d be happy to sell you one (the personal size Stinky ashtray is my new favorite) but, truth be told, my lawn is kept well conditioned by cigar ashes.

The business of cutting a cigar ranges from rudimentary to extremely elaborate.  You can pierce the end with a golf tee, or clip it with $1,000 gold plated and engraved cutter.  Please only bite the end off of a cigar if circumstances are incredibly dire and it is the only option that remains.  In that scenario, I would endorse using your teeth instead of advocating foregoing the cigar until a proper cutting implement presents itself.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The King and I

The Victorian era of British history spanned from 1837 through 1901.  It is generally accepted as a period of peace for the empire and is known as Pax Britannica.  This era was highlighted by Gothic Revival architecture, and social restraint per the example of Queen Victoria.  That all sounds well and good, except that Victoria banned smoking of tobacco on the royal premises.  It is presumed that the queen allowed for some exemptions for particular celebrations.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Math of 8-9-8 Cigars

Numerous cigar brands out there make a cigar that bears the name “8-9-8”.  What is 8-9-8?  It’s actually very simple.  Even though it may make you think of the numbers on your bag of lawn fertilizer, it is nowhere near that complicated.
8-9-8 is a reference to the manner in which the cigars were packaged into the box. 

Cigars & Longacre Square

Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of opera or Broadway, surely you know the name of Oscar Hammerstein.  You probably know the name as Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Oscar Hammerstein is Broadway royalty.  Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music were some of the most successful productions of the collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.  The duo racked up great commercial success and a pile of accolades to include 34 Tony awards, 15 Oscars, a Pulitzer Prize, and a pair of Grammy’s.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Let Freedom Ring!


Growing up in Illinois, the 4th of July of course meant fireworks.  As this was the time of more rational municipal fiscal control, our town always had a city fireworks display.  We watched intently as it seemed to go on forever.  The anticipation continued to build until the Grand Finale, which I think was my earliest conception of what grand finale meant.  It was great and made July 4th a highly anticipated day.

Seeing as Illinois had a ban on fireworks sales at the time, and I can’t imagine that has changed with the fun laws the Land of Lincoln likes to impose upon the populace, generally speaking the city fireworks display was all you got, aside from sparklers.  A neighbor of ours happened to do a fair amount of traveling for business.  I think the closest state at the time where he could legally purchase fireworks was Ohio.  So, each summer the last trip he took to clients in Ohio would have him purchasing a substantial assortment of fireworks.  He would use this cache to put on a display for our neighborhood.  We eagerly anticipated July 3rd as the pre-game to the fourth.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Here's How to Light ‘em Up!


The first thing you probably were taught about how best to enjoy premium cigars was that you must always use a butane lighter.  While this is pretty solid advice, it is marginally distorted.  The real mantra that you were supposed to have been taught was, “I pledge that I will never use a lighter with oil-based fuel”.  This means you won’t light your cigar with a fluid filled lighter like a Bic or a refillable Zippo.   News flash- I will use any of the above if the situation mandates it.  I’ll also drink really nice wine out of horrible stemware.  I hate to do it, but, if I’m in a pinch, I’ll compromise the method a little in order to enjoy the important reward.

You may now go retrieve all of those wooden matches you just heaped into the garbage.   They’re totally ok as well so long as you let the match burn for a second or two, so the sulfur burns off, then you may puff. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh, Beautiful Connecticut

Apparently Connecticut is known as the Constitution State, even though the U.S. Constitution was written in the Philadelphia State House, because it was the first place in what would become the United States where citizens met in the late 1600's to agree on a set of guidelines and laws to govern their mutual, considerate, and fair interactions.  Good to know.

It seems that, like pretty much every other state, Connecticut also has a slew of backup nicknames or slogans, among which is the Land of Steady Habits.  How very Yankee of it.  Good steady habits are a good thing for sure.  Recently Connecticut has become a possible new steady habit for me.  The last two evenings the selection I've grabbed from the Cigartender corporate humidor, which has a fantastic array of options, both happened to be Connecticut.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another Great Trip to the Dentist


Today was my semi-annual trip to the dentist.  I like my dentist and my hygienist very much because they are happy to be members of the Cigartender team.  After the initial obligatory counseling session about the potential increased risk factors posed by cigar smoking and the understandable upsell opportunity for teeth whitening, they have both been committed to their job, which is to provide me with the best care and advice possible for the health of my mouth.

I appreciated the discussion that we had on my first visit when we went over health history and lifestyle.  I stringently adhere to the approach that you never withhold any information from your doctors, which includes your dentist.  They may give you grief, but as long as you pay them promptly for their services they really are focused on helping you make smart decisions pertaining to your health.

While I’m happy to report that I got a clean bill of health and am cavity free, this post is not about my sterling record of brushing my teeth.  This post is about letting all of you know about ViziLite oral cancer screening.  This is as simple as gargling with an oral rinse and then being examined under a little fluorescent light like a glow stick.  It is entirely painless, doesn’t even taste too bad and immensely improves the ability of the hygienist to identify any abnormal cells in your mouth.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

50 Years and One Day Later

Fifty years ago yesterday, February 7, 1962, the US trade embargo against Cuba went into effect.  It was a political culmination of the Castro led revolution that began on 26 July 1953.  While I fancy myself a student of Cuban history, and history in general, I do not consider myself an authority, nor will I attempt to delve into any great detail this time around.

I merely felt compelled to mark the date, albeit a day late, of a significant event that occurred for my country, the United States of America, against another country, Cuba, which is held to be the motherland of tobacco.  Much hardship ensued, with far less blame belonging to US policy and far more staining the hands of the Communist Castro regime.  Private property rights were violated and family legacies were uprooted and cast aside by Castro’s revolution.

A sad but brilliant outcome was that through all of this turmoil and misfortune one of the greatest boons of the cigar industry occurred.  Rising like a phoenix from a mountain of cigar ashes, the premium cigar industry spread its wings, left Cuba, and spread like wildfire throughout the Caribbean and Central and South American nations that we now know so well.  What used to be a wholly Cuban dominated business offering up only the varieties of tobacco cultivated on that one island, impressive as they may be, is now  a thriving trade and industry in which those of us who love premium cigars are the ultimate winners.

Reflect for a moment on the entire struggle and the governmental abuse of power, from which we’re assuredly not immune, and acknowledge the strife and suffering of others.   But so too take a moment and marvel at the triumph of the human spirit.  Now that I mention it, dedicate your next cigar to mulling over this intertwined chapter of history.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A fond welcome to 2012!

Depending on your chosen intrepretation, or more popularly mis-interpretation, of the Mayan calendar this may be the last year we've all got left.  If that happens to be the case we had better get down to the business of smoking the best cigars we can find.

After a flurry of fantastic cigars carrying me through the Christmas and New Years festivities my first cigar officially smoked in 2012 was the Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 from the incredibly gifted tobacco madmen at Drew Estate.  I'll pass on exhaustive detail about this cigar at the moment, but I'm exceedingly pleased that this was the stick with which I kicked off the year.

While a slew of Padrons and Joya de Nicaragua Antanos were sacrificed on December 31 and well into the wee hours of January 1, today fairly marks the first time this year that a cigar received my full and undivided attention.  It was paired up with a great dram of Balvenie Doublewood 10 year single malt and a beautiful, cold Southwest Florida evening (yes, cold by our standards).

At an elegant 7" x 40 ring, this lancero was a delight.  It's a medium-full to full strengh cigar with plenty of rich flavor.  The aroma does not disappoint.  The spice of this blend paired nicely with the sweet notes of the Balvenie.  So I bid welcome to 2012 and fête it with a powerful lancero.  This smooth smoking stick has given me a great hour's worth of enjoyment and has set the bar appropriately high for the cigars I'll seek out for the rest of this year.  Cheers!