Monday, August 29, 2016

Cigar(s) of the Month(s): A Rocky Patel Bonanza! (Also, Bite me, FDA) (Also, join the CRA!)

I'm hoping this giveaway takes up some of the slack of going AWOL. Speaking of slack, I've mastered the slacker lifestyle when it comes to the blog. But I'm trying to be better! And I know you'll forgive me because I'm giving shit away, and you can be easily bribed. (No judgments. So can I.)

So without further ado,* I give you this:  (Wait. I'm not giving it to you yet. One of you can win it. Go to the bottom of the post for the actual Rafflecopter giveawayness.)

At least all this can be yours. Who knows what else we'll throw in!
We're at the point now that we could really use another 2,000-count humidor to go with these:

And this:
Actually overfull now... :(
And the shelves were bowed when we got it.
They're all super-full now! Like, "air-flow isn't flowing optimally because there's literally no room to breathe" full. 

When Valentino wasn't looking (or so I thought), I pulled these Rocky Patels from the masses to give to one of you. He caught me. But since I had already made the promise, at least in my head, he didn't chop off one of my hands.**

This arm-waving did happen, though:

So back in the old-timey days (pre-August 8, 2016), many cigar companies were kind enough to give me cigars to give you.
Then August 8 happened, courtesy of the FDA, and now, among other iron-fist rulings, cigar companies are no longer allowed to give away cigars for any reason, unless a cigar shop does not yet carry that blend. Then they get one to try.  This also means no charity donations, including to overseas troops. And no free cigars for you unless they come from our personal humidors.

Rocky and Valentino
In honor of Rocky Patel's visit to Rhode Island last year right about this time, we thought the selection apropos--even if it also means I have to go back to school shortly. ::weeps openly::

Rocky Patel (the man) is also an amazing supporter of Cigar Rights of America,*** so really, full-tilt serendipity brought this post together.  (If you aren't a member of CRA, do it now. Tell them I sent you! And pay attention to all the options on the Rafflecopter giveaway--there are bonus entries if you're a member or become one!)

In the meantime, enter, share, win. Maybe we'll even have more than one winner! (Don't tell Valentino!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Much Ado about Nothing is one of my favorite plays!

**Theres a place for a really dirty joke here, but I'll let you make it on your own; that way you can feel really clever at my expense. You're welcome.

***Full disclosure: I am a CRA Ambassador, so this is an official shake-down.****

****Kidding! I'm kidding! It's an UN-official shakedown!

Friday, August 26, 2016

You say stalkers...

On the phone again. This is getting to be a way of life. And a permanent "Get out of blame" card for all errors because the letters are so so so little

Anyway, as I was saying, you say "stalker" and we say "obsessed fans also in search of a good time and a better cigar."

And that's how we've already managed to be in two cigar shops over the course of a few hours. 

I blame these guys, who are now BFFs. 
Our hero on the left and La Aurora's Master Blender Manuel Inoa on the right.  
(Hi Julio, lurking innocently in the background!)
Valentino and I currently live in an area where a cigar shop resides on every third corner. (Hyperbole, but not by much.) 

When cigar celebrities come to town, Rhode Island offers many an opportunity to meet the smokers. So during their travels today, La Aurora's Master Blender Manuel Inoa and the company's New England rep Willy Marante wound up at our home base, Habanos in Pawtucket, RI. 

We scurried over to greet our new besties, which is so much better than standing outside while staring in the plate-glass windows, especially when it's as humid and hot as it is today! Many photo ops occurred, because these guys are super kind and fantastic and welcoming. 

Sometimes you need a good montage. And here it is!
Thanks Willy! And yes, that is me in the white shirt.
Consider yourself lucky that my pic was included--otherwise, well, you know..
.there is that one other picture somewhere on this blog. Somewhere. 

Valentino partook of the ever-awesome 100 Anos again, as he did last night. Still magically delicious!

Then they headed to Mr. Cigar in North Providence, where I just happened to be right now. Purely coincidental!

(I'm a terrible liar. I know that.)

What's that? You're hankering for another montage? Here you go! These feature Anthony and Rosa, who own Mr. Cigar. 

Because Valentino depleted his La Aurora 100 Anos over the past couple of days, we wiped out Mr. Cigar's shelf stash. I believe another evil laugh is in order. Join me! Bwah hahahaha!

I can't say where they're heading next (not a lie), but I'm positive there's no way I can keep up with them. We'll have to turn to Valentino for special reports, which I'll Internet for him. (I'm nice like that.) I'm already tired and I've done nothing today but plan a class for a rapidly-approaching fall semester. (Fair warning, students: Lots of homework. Bwah hahaha!)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One of our favorite places and some newly favorite cigars. (Plus, primerib--something for everyone!)

Phone blogging again, so I can be excused for all grammar and other faux pas. Wahoo!

Welcome! (Also, I have awesome sneakers.)
So here's something super cool: 
Havana Cigar Lounge in West Warwick, RI has revamped their bar area. It is freaking gorgeous! (I'd show you a picture, but it's packed with guests. Come see for yourself!)

We love this place anyway, but like many people in the Rhode Island area, any trip requiring more than 25 minutes in the car requires going to bed early the night before and scheduling nothing else that day. Travel is so exhausting. So we don't get here as much as we'd like. 

But we hauled our butts to Havana today because coolness would soon commence!
This is actually happening right this very second. The tobacco hugging is metaphorical.
New England's face of La Aurora, Willy Marante, escorted the company's master blender Manuel Inoa to town and rejoicing commenced, as did a prime rib dinner at Havana. (I now request my arrival into any town be feted by a prime rib dinner. Consider yourself notified.)

Willy, our hero, Havana owner Todd LaScola, and Manuel Inoa at Havana.

Now considered the leading cigar factory in the Dominican market, La Aurora "was founded on October 3, 1903 by Eduardo León Jimenes, a hard working man who was son and grandson of tobacco growers... [who] decided to go a step further with the creation of a cigar brand," according to the company's website. 

Speed forward  (math is hard) years, and Valentino is smoking the first (don't be an ass--not the actual cigar; the kind) cigar the company ever created. 

 In fact, Havana has the cigar in a facsimile of the original box:

Havana also has one of the company's most sought-after cigars, 100 Anos, made in a size (vitola) exclusively for them: 

We can't guarantee how long these will last. In addition to be proprietary, they're also limited. (Insert evil laugh here.)

The 100 Anos: 
Wrapper: Corojo (Valle del Cibao – República Dominicana).
Binder: Valle del Cibao (República Dominicana).
Filler: Valle del Cibao (República Dominicana).

When he finished that other cigar, he moved on to this: 

I know we always say we don't review cigars because you should make your own decisions, but Valentino wants to make an exception. This Puro Vintage Edicion III Anniversario Salomon is "fucking delicious." Boom. Review. 

Stay tuned for more La Aurora updates! Valentino has some serious smoking to do! And I'm pretty sure a lot of it will happen at Havana Cigar Club and Lounge. You should join us here!! (24 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI.

Willy and our hero! 

For more info about La Aurora, visit 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Insert incredibly clever title here. (Kind of like choose your ownadventure.)

Note: I'm phone blogging, so please forgive errors of all kinds, including logic. 

I came to Mickey Blake's in Southington, CT this summer for their 5th Anniversary celebration. (During this time, I played the role of Glynn Loope, the executive director of Cigar Rights of America. He unexpectedly couldn't make it; I stood in, as much as I could. I'm, after all, a mere mortal.)
During that last visit, Valentino had been off galavanting on a golf course in Pennsylvania.  He missed a great event and an introduction to an amazing cigar lounge. (Insert Bwahahaha maniacal laugh here.)

So when our pal Brian Vrooman, New England personification of PDR Cigars said Mr. PDR himself, Abe Flores would be at this Mickey Blake's location, I talked Valentino into a road trip. 

Actual conversation:
Me: We should go to the Abe thing at Mickey Blake's.
He: Okay. 

And there was much rejoicing because
1. He was/is super impressed with this place, and we've put in a request to have it moved to our vicinity. Still awaiting final judgement on that. 

2. We're big fans of Abe, Brian, and PDR.  (Oh, and the cigars, of course). 

So take two servings of awesome, throw in a side of awesome Valentino, and you get this:
Pictured: Brian, Mickey Blake's owners Marco and Joe, Abe, Valentino.
Another owner, Luis, was attending an event at the shop's other location.
If you're not familiar with PDR Cigars, check out this article about Abe in Cigar Aficionado. Or--no, AND--take a look at their website.

The reason for the celebration this evening? Mickey Blake's is one of only a few shops  to carry these new gems: 

...which come in these future cookie jars:

Want. (Cigars for he, jar for me.)

For more information about these blends, visit Cigar Coop here: 

Valentino hasn't smoked his yet, so we're in a holding pattern on that front.

Actually, he has all these to smoke: 
Don't be jealous. You can come to Mickey Blake's and get your own! If you're too wimpy to drive the three or three thousand miles to get here, I guess you could check with your local shop. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sobremesa! And Valentino's new mistresses!!

We've told you about our love for this Steve Saka sensation.

While we're at our inaugural outing at Vintage Cigar Lounge and Club in Westerly, RI, Steve just happens to be here. (Full disclosure: We were coming anyway but knowing he would be here made us do the Saka Samba of Delight. 

This cigar is one of Valentino's all-time favorites.
And this, translated to "my mistress," is Steve's most recent release, well-deserving every ounce of delighted hullabaloo surrounding it. Try it; you'll like it!

Of course Valentino purchased a box of Sobremesas.* Of course we asked Steve to sign it in the only proper way: 

Vintage Cigar has a full complement of sizes (vitolas) of both Saka Selections. Make the drive. Come and get them!! 

*I've in the past couple of days purchased a box of the mistress, because I'm an awesome girlfriend. 

Vintage Cigar in Westerly, RI: A new home I need closer to my home.

We're at the opening celebration of Vintage Cigar Lounge and Club in Westerly, RI.
If they'd let me move into these swanky digs, I totally would. (Although full disclosure: I really don't like people and there are a lot of people here. I guess I can't ask them to leave, so there's that... I guess Valentino is stuck with me.)
You guys should get your butts here. They're open from 11:00am-1:00am.
Check out this article. It's all the news that's fit to print (sorry, NY Times!) about this great place that I would like moved closer to my house, please. (Thank you!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Perfect Partnership: Tommy Bahama and Cigars

Still phone-blogging!! All errors are the fault of my busy schedule laziness inhibiting me from finding and charging one of many laptops. 

If you've ever met Valentino, or been through his room-sized closet, you know one of the top-three brands he's loyal to:

If you live on planet Earth, you know cigars are one of his top-three favorite things.

At IPCPR this week (hahaha--that's when I started writing this; finished almost exactly a month later. I know. I'm amazing.), we discovered this:

Zoom in. You'll never be the same. Neither will your money clip, because you'll willingly hand it over. Pinky swear. 

 As you know, Tommy Bahama doesn't do anything half-assed. They're always high-quality, full-assed awesome. (One peek into Valentino's closet and you'll see we believe this whole-heartedly.) As a result, their first major leap into the cigar industry has produced amazing results. 

Keep reading. We'll get to this in a second. 

Who should we thank for creating more ways to hand over hard-earned money? An amazing team led by this guy in the center, Benjamin Castro, designer and genius: 
The Tommy Bahama folks, under the guidance of these two, shown here with Valentino (on the left), will roll out new lines three times a year, each completely unique. Three times a year. THREE times.  
I'd ask how many lighters and ashtrays and other accessories one man needs, but I guess we'll just keep track, in order to answer our own question. 

Between us, shhhhhh, the spring 2017 line harkens back to the cigar clubs of the 1940s. This line's lighters, humidors, etc. are hidden behind the guys in the picture. Sorry!! You'll just have to wait. But trust me: save your money; it'll be released right around the time you'll be wishing for warm weather again. 

At the heart of these accessory lines lies this magical goodness: 
Yep. Tommy Bahama cigars. Technically, Island Lifestyle cigars. From their promotional materials:

"Island Lifestyle cigars are hand-crafted from the finest aged tobaccos of Nicaragua and Connecticut. Using Cuban seed filler and binder grown in the most fertile regions of Nicaragua, they provide a full flavor experience ranging from smooth and creamy to rich and spicy."

Of course, we aren't the only ones who found these folks totally groovy. IPCPR had a little something to say too:
The sounds you hear? Angels singing. Serendipity clicking into place. Valentino's cutter snipping in anxious anticipation.

The Nica-Puro cigars (except for the wrapper info coming in 3...2...1...) come with Sungrown, maduro, and Connecticut (US) wrapper options. 

When not Valentino said only nice things* about this new friend...

And we have still others from the show that need some smoking. (He said he doesn't need any help, but thank you for asking!)

The cigars, along with the complete accessories, will only be available at authorized Tommy Bahama/ Island Lifestyle retailers. We MAY know a place that will join these ranks in a few months. Stay tuned for that major-ish announcement. 

Photo from the Island Lifestyle Importers Facebook page. Check it out! (Their website is currently undergoing reconstructive surgery, so I don't want to send you there!!)

*Not that we'd ever say anything NOT nice. We're nice people. We keep our evil thoughts contained (as much as possible) but never ever say them on the blog. 

Do we really need words for...


From LFD, every box will be unique and created after the order is placed. And they can only be ordered during the IPCPR trade show. 

You still have time to call your favorite tobacconist while he/she is at the show. 2 days left!! Show ends on Thursday!! 
Go here to see a video about making these babies!

Monday, July 25, 2016

20 Fantastic Hits from PDR! Act now!

Let's talk about awesome. 

This is an example of awesome: 

PDR has put together an assortment (their word) of their greatest hits--kind of like those K-Tel compilation albums from the 1970s and '80s. 

Remember those? You'd sing every little song snippet as it played during the commercial? And then be confused when you heard the song on the radio and it kept going, not switching to something else? (Or was that just me? That's a possibility.)

These 20 Fat Coronas (4.25 x 56) are the song snippets of PDR's best of the best. 

How do you get this limited edition? Well,  actually, you can't. They're being given to kick-ass retailers who place ass-kicking orders here at the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers) trade show. 

In case you don't know, PDR, now in its 12th year, is located in Tamboril, Dominican Republic and helmed by Abe Flores. 

Abe's a totally awesome dude and you can read all about him in this most excellent Cigar Aficionado Q&A (

The cigars in this Fat Corona compilation showcase Abe's versatility and creativity. Some of our house favorites: 

A. Flores 1975 Serie Privada: According to the JR Cigars website, "some of the oldest aged tobaccos ever placed inside of a cigar. This medium-bodied smoke delivers smooth well-balanced flavors found in only the finest vintage cigars. This is a naturally sweet smoke with subtle hints of spice throughout. Serie Privada is available in two Ecuadorian wrappers – Habano or Maduro. Whichever you chose, you are in for an unforgettable smoking experience."

The maduro version of the one above. Just as fab. 

El Trovador: This is the newest of the bunch, just released at the trade show. Stay tuned for more details. 

Act now! Call your favorite retailer on his/her cell tonight. (Trust us. Everyone's up.) Demand a huge PDR order and the new compilation collection. Since you're demanding, call dibs on that collection. After all, it's only available for a limited time! 

PS: Still working on my phone. Please excuse lack of links and really, really crappy pictures! (You can absolutely tell which ones I took and inexpertly cropped!)

Day...I've lost track already, with many more to go...

Ever seen Bar Rescue? 

This guy (Jon Taffer, Mr. Bar Reacue himself) spoke at the IPCPR conference's opening meeting this morning. 

He talked (in that enthusiastic way people like him do and that makes people like me need more caffeine to keep up) about  something near and dear to our hearts: customer service, specifically developing relationships and making people feel special vs. treating customers like transactions.*

I've long said that if you make people feel special, even something as simple as telling them you dig their groovy outfit or appreciate their sparkly watch, you've made a lasting impression and you're probably on your way to friendship. 

Even as a professor, whereby I profess (silently) that their writing sucks, I still try to make each student feel like they matter. (Sometimes this is impossible, like when they never come to class or come but don't look up from their phones, but I TRY!) 

One of our biggest gripes when Valentino and I visit a cigar shop is when we're ignored or treated like a burden. Yes, they're getting an emotional reaction--just not a good one. 

Oh, also? We don't go back to that shop willingly or happily if our next visit results in the same reaction. (Once can be a fluke or bad day; twice is the beginning of a pattern.)

So while the breakfast meeting's eggs were cold (because I'm the world's slowest eater), the getting up early after a long night was worth it--especially in light of something so so so super cool that were working on. 

I hope many of the folks in the audience take everything he said to heart, although I doubt they will. That's fine. All the better for us! 

*This is very interesting because the FDA says after August 8, shop owners can't give a customer a free cigar just for being awesome, but they CAN if it's tied to a transaction (like buy 4, get one free).

PS: Still working on my phone, usually in a bar, where the letters are small and the eyes are blurry. So please forgive errors of both typographical and logic natures. Thanks!!

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