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 (http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/the-formidable-factory-18247).

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!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Day...? 1? 2??

Who can say? We've been here a little over 24 hours and I'm already asking what day it is. 

We caught up with our pal Steve Saka when we snuck onto the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer) show floor today. 

We tried to catch him yesterday, but were greeted with this: 
Where was Steve? Apparently we'd missed him and his lovely wife Cindy, by nano seconds. My fault. I'm a slow walker--plus that whole distraction thing. There's much to be distracted by, even before the show officially opens. (Yes, maybe some distractions are caused by backwards-speeding forklifts.  That's some mad skillz right there!)

So today, while using my own superpowers, we caught up with Steve and Cindy on the show floor. (Not the ACTUAL floor--the couple was appropriately upright.)

Valentino's the number one fan of Steve's Sobremesa, the first cigar to come out of Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust. (You may remember that cigar was Cigar of the Month not too long ago.)

(Valentino takes his time with photographs, therefore creating awesome pics like this. Once upon a time, it was a Sobremesa short Churchill. Now it's a really short one.)

Steve's launching a new Sobremesa size--the short Churchill, along with something else new. We're very much looking forward to setting that one aflame!! 
 (And then there's the picture I take please note the amazing packing blanket background. #classybroad)

Whaaa? The espresso martini is kicking in! Got to go before my grammar sux.

Day...One? .5? At IPCPR

Valentino and I spent yesterday doing the most outrageous thing...carrying heavyish things and working--like, manual labor working. 

You know ordinarily, I'd do no such things because I'm a delicate flower. But our pl Jim Robinson, he of Leaf by Oscar, among other awesome cigars, corralled us into helping. (By "corralled," I mean we offered to help.)

Once we got everything into the convention center, we worked some magic and voila! 

I happen to know there's a cool cigar coming from this booth tomorrow. Stay tuned until then, when we lay out hands on them!!

(In case you're wondering, Island Jim thanked us with adult beverages all night. Had I known THAT was the payment for similar tasks, I'd have started carrying things a long time ago!)

PS: I'm blogging from my phone, so please excuse any errors and weed formatting things until I get to a real computer! 

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