Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Three Men and a Little Lady

Yesterday, after a craptacular day capped off with a loooong-ass teaching stint, which Valentino valiantly suffered through with me because he is THAT awesome, I begged* to go to Habanos for a drink.**

Friends already occupied the bar, cigars in hand and Nathalie held down the fort and held up the conversation. (She's awesome. She's the lady in this scenario, by the way.) We nestled in and everything seemed just a little bit better. But like the Girl of Empty Promises that I am, I could neither muster the energy to drink more than ginger ale, nor hold an actual conversation. My brain. She was fried.

Know what? It's nice when you walk into a place and people are genuinely happy to see you. That really helps perk up the day, even if it is 10:30 p.m.

Valentino lit up a Rocky Patel Decade, which has been a favorite for a couple years, since we happened upon a box of lanceros at Mr. J's Havana. (They don't have any more, so don't ask. We made off with the rest, as we are wont to do.) This time he lit a box-pressed 5 x 50, which had a bit of nuttiness, although that certainly could have been my frame of mind (also a little on the nutty side). Or both. A woodiness and creaminess also filled our airspace, a perfect reminder of non-sucky days.
From the I-stink-at-taking-pictures files. The one on the right is what it's supposed to look like. [source]

To my left, Eric (Hi, Eric!), who said he'd found this La Sirena Merlion (Sea Lion) perfecto (5.5 x 47) lurking in his humidor...

Of course it didn't look exactly like this when he took it from the humidor.

...and he pulled the Sea Lion up for air (and the lit it on fire, which is where the metaphor dies and the cigar comes to life).

I know what you're thinking: Stop being awesome, La Sirena!

It was a dark and stormy cigar, starting off in the medium range, and then as the storm blew in, becoming more and more full, with pepper and oakiness. (Is that a word? Yes.) But within that all lurked little rays of sunshiny sweetness, floral notes as the rain swept across the garden. I swear I have not been drinking.

According to CI, this cigar is "A fusion of two of the best in the business - La Aurora (Guillermo Leon) and La Sirena (Don Pepin) – this half-mermaid half-lion handmade is all substance. Carefully crafted in the esteemed La Aurora factory in the Dominican, Merlion brings smooth, uber-complex flavors in spades."

They continue, "It all starts with a feisty, yet silky smooth Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper. This lovely leaf hugs a Brazilian Sumatra binder, housing an impressive long-filler bouquet of Dominican Corojo, Dominican Criollo 98', Nicaraguan ligero, and finally Brazilian Mata Fina. An adventurous blend no doubt, each brand's influence is evident, as the Merlion asserts a bold, well-balanced array of rich medium to full-bodied smoke."

I thought about getting Valentino a box, but 1. We're in dangerously low on humidor space and 2. I know he would never smoke any of them because the box and its contents are so cool. 

But wait! There's more!

This was my first Saint Luis Rey. I asked him to please be gentle.

Shawn, a fan of the fuller cigars, (Hi, Shawn!) worked on a Saint Luis Rey Reserva Especial, a 6 x 50 Toro. Talk about dark and stormy! Although I wasn't sitting next to him, I noticed some spiciness wafting my way...  Want more details about the smoke? Take a look here! And I'll try to get closer next time I'm in the vicinity of one of these beauties.

According to the website, "The origins of this cigar’s name are cloaked in mystery. One theory is that a Thornton Wilder play, 'The Bridge of San Luis Rey,' was the inspiration behind this smoke’s moniker. Another is that it was named after the town of San Luis in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region in Cuba, where these cigars were originally rolled.

"Now handmade in Honduras, these exquisite cigars achieve their renowned full flavor and aroma through a unique blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian long filler tobaccos, a Nicaraguan binder, and a dark, rich Nicaraguan wrapper."

And now, on to the little one:

(Distributed to all who helped de-suckify the day!
A small price to pay. Thank you!)
We just happened to be in Jamaica in January and we just happened to happen upon (after extensive research) La Casa del Habano. In the flurry of purchasing, I may happened to have thrown these on the counter. I swear I had every intention of laying out cold hard American Express for them, but Valentino accidentally paid for them himself. My intentions were true! My speed and accuracy at pulling a credit card out of my bag...not so much. I blame the cognac the shop proprietor forced*** upon us. 

So, crappyish day over, ending on a pleasing a cigar you're not sure you like in the beginning but you give it a chance because what other choice do you have?**** And at the end, you acquiesce, "That wasn't so bad."


*Actual conversation: "Can we go to Habanos?" "Sure."

**I do not ever question why high school teachers drink, and if they don't, they 1. should or 2. are much better people than I will ever be. Probably both.

***Actual conversation: "Would you like some cognac?" "Yes, please."

****Valentino refuses refuses to quit a cigar. Only once, in all the time cigars and I have been around simultaneously, has he thrown down the stick, cursing it and its evil taste to the end of time. No, I am not going to tell you what it was. That's not how we roll here. We're a kind lot.

*****Whenever I try to sound cool, using the kids' crazy lingo (from this century or last), my dear-hearted son says, "Please don't ever say that again." I expect a text from him in 3...2...

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