Hand-Rolled Cigars at Oro Cubano Lounge in Vineland, New Jersey


Being a born & bred city girl, I sometimes take holiday breaks and long weekends away from bright lights, big city to star studded night lights in the wilds of South Jersey. One weekend, I was feeling a little cabin fever and took a ride into town looking for a fun night out. Found, just a few miles out of the woods, in New Jersey's largest city of Vineland is probably one of the most comfortable and authentic Cuban cigar lounge owned by Israel Aryen & Alex Rigo: The Oro Cubano Cigar & Hookah Lounge in Vineland New Jersey.

You'd totally miss this place if you weren't looking for it as it's an unassuming shop on the main drag on Delsea Drive, not too far from WaWa ! Tucked into a strip mall next to a car dealership, the Oro Cubano is very large, with the lounge off to the right and a  nice-sized walk in humidor with a cigar rolling station in the middle of the room. This is where you might find Israel Aryen creating his hand-rolled, custom blended cigars -- and it's exactly where he greeted me the other night as he explained how he has worked in the cigar business his entire life.

Aryen asked me if I wanted to try his cigars, so to be polite, I of course said yes. Aryen was trained under Pepin Garcia in Cuba, so how could I say no? He explained how tobacco is blended and aged, and then his brother Alex explained what kind of complexities I can experience with their sticks. Then, Aryen sat down, took out an unwrapped cigar, a large leaf and a tool, and he rolled the cigar in front of me. It's was lots of fun to watch him. Then, Alex escorted me to the lounge which sported a beautiful bar, a pool table and areas for groups, singles and couples to smoke in complete comfort with Latin music playing in the background, and large tvs in all the appropriate places.

I sat down, water bottle in hand, cut and lit this fine looking cigar and enjoyed the smoke for upwards of an hour:

Toro-sized Oro Cubano Cigar

The pre-lit scent is black pepper, mixed nuts, oak with mild tobacco. This stick lights easily and hold a nice ash with the first third exuding a strong black pepper, oak and cedar that turns to almond, pecans and develops into a medium profile.

The 2/3 levels out to a mild plus cigar, with a short hit of pepper that subsides quickly letting the mixed nut flavors become the dominant taste for a good portion of the cigar. Then, in the last third the profile shifts to medium and for a brief couple of puffs a strong earthy flavor develops and subsides, bringing a clean spicy white pepper, and a continuation of roasted pecans with a slight molasses flavor that stays with the still till the very end.

I was surprised by the flavor dimensions in this light colored stick and look forward to trying other custom blends by Oro Cubano. Maybe Aryen can pick out a Maduro for my next visit. While I really enjoyed the gorgeous lounge they have, complete with semi-private group areas, it's the hospitality and personality of the owners that keep me going back whenever I'm visiting family nearby.

Here is a video of Aryen at Oro Cubano rolling cigars:

If you are in South Jersey, coming back from Atlantic City, Wildwood, Cape May or live in the area, check out this cigar haven, located at 744 N. Delsea Drive in Vineland NJ (856) 690-4422

My Thoughts Are Haunted by the Gurkha Ghost

Being active on Twitter & Instagram, I not only get a chance to share my cigar likes, loves & challenges, I also love to hear what everyone else is smoking.   A fellow reviewer, whom I affectionately call "Houston," described the Gurkha Ghost as if it was pure gold. 

Even though we have similar tastes, I actually didn't believe him. I had a preconceived notion that Gurkha was a harsh cigar based on a stick  I tried, but couldn't remember it's name, a few years ago. So, I went looking for the Ghost. I searched locally in NYC, NJ & LI - but it never materialized. My first Ghost was a gift and the second appeared at a Staten Island lounge for $8.50. 

After a little whining on Twitter, an amazing package of goodies came from a not so secret friend and behold, the Ghost appeared with its beautiful holographic band. I was blown away with the gift, and open-minded enough to not let this succulently delicious smoking experience disappear. 
An attractive 5x 52 and alluring medium plus bodied cigar, the Ghost blend showcases a dark Brazilian, Arapiraka Maduro wrapper, complemented by an aged Criollo 98 binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.

The thing about the Ghost is that it starts off as one type of perfectly conceived smooth tasting cigar, then with the flavor shifts & dimensions emerging, the cigar becomes the ONE you don't want to get away. I was super impressed with the pre-lit scent of the cigar -- supple  leather with a deep tobacco, nutmeg, cinnamon and a little black licorice. I took my time enjoying the aroma and when I finally lit this baby, the smoke was voluminous & white. It had a sexy scent that I wanted to permanently perfume the room. 

The initial 1/3 started off with a woodsy, earthy flavor, a touch of black pepper & a little sweet cream. It burned nicely, the ash was dense & held tight at least 1/2 way into the experience before falling and then the flavor shifted big time in the 2/3 and a completely different dark cocoa flavor emerged sharply changing the dimension of the stick. The earthiness subsided leaving the rest of the flavors to intermingle prominently on the palate. 

But it was during the last part of the cigar when really decided I didn't want my date with Gurkha to end -- and I do believe the feeling was mutual because the burn rate slowed and we spent a good amount of time enjoying each others company. Then in between a few puffs, a tidal wave of flavors swelled with caramel, sweet cream and bittersweet cocoa swirling  on my palate and tingling my lips. I ended my brief Ghost affair with a long slow burnt caramel kiss and sat back against the leather chair enjoying the smoky aroma for just a little while more. 

The first time I smoked the Gurkha Ghost was with drinking water and my second Ghost haunting included an Ice Wine from Hungary. But from the flavor profiles, I could imagine this cigar pairing well with Port, Cappuccino, Cherry Stout and countless other pleasures. 

This is a cigar to savor, enjoy each dimension of flavor in every puff and share with friends. You won't be disappointed in the Ghost. It may even haunt your thoughts days following the experience. 

Portions of this review has appeared on Cigar Tipsters:!gurkha-ghost/c1ah8

For more information about Gurkha Ghost go to 

Wishing you long ashes -- The Robusto Cigar Babe

chat with me on Twitter: @RobustoBabe
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Ezra Zion Tantrum Is A Power Pack of Flavors

After searching for this cigar for months, a twitter BOTL took pity on me & sent the Tantrum as a gift  - arriving just in time for New Year's Eve !

While I was very surprised by the size of the Tantrum ( a slightly thicker petit corona; 4.4 with 44 ring gauge ) -- this little baby was a power pack.  Made with aged Nicaraguan tobacco & a Cuban Seed Corojo wrapper, the Tantrum is nicely constructed, burns beautifully, holds an amazing ash & never needs  relighting.

Lately I've been enjoying the smell of cigars prior to lighting it. The Tantrum emits a lovely tobacco, pepper, spice and nut scent that romances your senses. After lighting the stick, I was blown away by the powerful tobacco and black pepper notes on the forefront of my palate, with an underlying earthiness that helps the flavors transition into the next few puffs. Then I was treated to a punch of oak and leather that overtook the profile through halfway, then all of the sudden everything changed.

My favorite part of the cigar is when the profile changed to medium-full and a small raisin sweetness emerged, with a slight but welcomed roasted almond flavor. These flavors stay down to the nub with that punch of black pepper returning during the last two inches of the stogie.

What I loved about the Tantrum was the way new flavors are introduced with every puff.  Just when I thought I had a handle on the peppery spice, other notes  emerged to tantalize my tastebuds while teasing my palate throughout the smoke. 

Downside -- it was a little too full bodied for me.

Upside -- it was a flavorful delight, not unlike a sexy kiss with a bold Latin love that left me wishing the smooching would never stop. Burnt fingers all the way here.

For more information about the Tantrum & Ezra Zion's other cigars go to

Wishing you long ashes -- The Robusto Cigar Babe

Chat with me on Twitter @RobustoBabe
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