Events, Workshops, Festivals

New York City

I'm usually asked to host the RCB Cigar Experience at  Bachelor Parties where I give out cigars, instruct usage and pair with alcohol. So I was thrilled when Ben Truncali, of  THE ROTARY CLUB OF VERRAZANO asked me to MC a Charity Cigar Party on August 16th. The event benefited Gift Of Life NY.

The $125 donation yielded a top shelf open bar, 5 course meal, dozens of door prizes, and 6 cigars:

·     Alec Bradley American Toro
·     Torano Exodus 50 Years
·     Ave Maria Charlemagne
·     Pepin Garcia Blue
·     Drew Estate Undercrown
·     Camacho Corojo Maduro

While the crowd of 75 men were at times a bit over the top, MCing the event gave me an opportunity to talk about the 6 cigars, explain the most interesting tasting notes for each, and whenever possible give cocktail and alcohol suggestions.  Of course there were guys who didn't believe that I actually smoked and enjoyed cigars, but after chatting with me (and quizzing my knowledge), they became my strongest supporters that evening. My favorite part was visiting each of the tables and talking with the men individually about their tastes in cigars. A great group of men!

The week before the Cigar Event, I smoked each of the sticks, noting their flavor and strength profiles. Here is a little bit of what I talked about for each cigar in the order given out:

1 – Alec Bradley American Toro Connecticut

·        American Blend has a Connecticut seed Honduran wrapper so we know we can look for milder flavors that include a little sweetness, nuttiness and a touch of coffee

·        The filler and binder are Nicaraguan long fillers, so you’ll experience a long finish with lots of cedar and wood notes

·        If you enjoy those coffee flavors, you might want to enjoy this cigar with your morning coffee, but this isn’t the type of cigar you would pair with anything strong

2 -- TORANO Exodus 50 Years

·        Commemorative Cigar for the Torano Family who fled Cuba, by honoring their family on the 50 year milestone.

·        Exodus is wrapped in SUN GROWN BRAZILIAN Arapiraca leaf.

·        Together with Nicaraguan long-fillers from two regions (Esteli and Pueblo Nuevo)

·        Tasting Notes: cocoa, earth, spices, sweetness  with a long finish

3 – Ave Maria Charlemagne

·        Popular Ecuador Habano Wrapper

·        Filler is Honduran and Nicaraguan

·        This cigar is a SOLID medium in strength

·        With that Ecuadorian wrapper, you will get a creamy quality in your mouth with a touch of cocoa, very little spice, subtle flavors

·        This cigar should seem very smooooth to you even though it has Nicaraguan filler. It’s could very easily become your every day smoke

4 -- Don Pepin Garcia Blue

·        With this next cigar we are taking a notch up in strength.

·        Jose Garcia is known as Don Pepin and is the man behind many other high ranked cigars.

·        If you like the My Father or the Aroma De Cuba  or Flor de Antilles cigars, there’s a good chance you understand the flavor profiles he puts out.

·        Blue is a Nica Puro meaning it’s 100% Nicaraguan tobacco

Dark Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. full-bodied and full-flavored

·        You should expect a spicy, peppery flavor and very earthy

·        Corojo wrapper gives you rich coffee, spice, cocoa and a sour like leathery finish

5 – Drew Estate Undercrown

·        Who doesn’t love a Drew Estate Undercrown? If you enjoy the Liga Privada #9, you will notice some similarities to these two sticks. The Undercrown is a little lighter on the palate.

·        Mexican San Andres Wrapper is a dark, maduro wrapper that will give off notes of coffee, vanilla, hints of Licorice and some spice in the beginning that continues to get more pronounced as you smoke it.

·        Filler is Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina that creates the creaminess you will experience.

·        You can expect to find espresso, amaretto, black pepper and a dark chocolate 

·        It’s a Medium Plus Strength cigar that can give you a buzz if you don’t smoke it slowly as it’s intended.

6 – Camacho Corojo Maduro

·        It would be interesting to compare this with the Pepin Garcia Blue because both are Corojo – tho the Blue is from Nicaragua and the Camacho is from Honduras

·        This cigar is said to have “Cuban like flavors” because in the 1960s Camacho smuggled Cuban Corojo seeds and began growing in a rugged, Cuban like soil in Honduras. However, it's important to keep in mind that all cigars originated with Cuban seeds.

·        This particular cigar is a SPICE bomb. You will find a strong PEPPER and CEDAR flavor. The MADURO adds more dimension to the cigar with a touch of sweetness to keep the balance.

·        Other subtle flavors you might experience are walnuts, leather, earthiness


Let me just say I love to go to cigar events whether it be cigar release parties, lounge events, non-profit charity functions, cigar and scotch nights ... they are all fun ! The best ones to me are where you learn something from cigar owners or reconnect with fellow cigar lovers. I've been fortunate to meet Twitter friends at cigar events too. It's worth the travel to these lounges and parties. For me in NYC though, mostly everything is within a twenty minute ride.

In 2015, a small group of Cigar loving Twitter friends met at the Texas Cigar Festival (@HN_JAD home town) to finally see if we enjoyed each other's company offline as much as on Twitter. Thank the heavens we did !

Quite a crowd at Texas Cigar Festival!
It was hot and sweaty but everyone mingled and enjoyed themselves. 

We experimented with the cuisine at the Festival - Mud Bug Soup - which oddly tasted
 like Shrimp Bisque 

This year, we plan to do the same, but instead, we are traveling to Scottsdale, AZ (#AZ2016) where we hope more people will gather to explore the cigar lands of AZ with @CigarChairman

Two favorite events for learning about cigars

Cigar Blending Seminar

Jose Blanco's Blending Seminar at
New Jersey's friendliest Cigar Lounge - Barista Cigars, NJ
I learned so much during this event, that I need to repeat and repeat because the amount of fun and discovery during these seminars is unreal. Do not miss this event.

From the website:
Jose´s Blending Seminar is a highly interactive seminar during which each attendee smokes and gives opinions almost as much Jose himself talks.  He used to base these sessions on pure grades used for fillers. Nowadays he switched to making it based on wrappers. He hands out a bunch (filler and binder) with a wrapper changing at each inch. He may use wrappers from anywhere from Connecticut to Ecuador, Nicaragua to Dominican Republic, Cameroon to Mexico to Honduras… There are good wrappers and tobaccos from many origins and Jose helps the smokers feel the distinction. He changes the wrappers and orders from time to time to keep the participants captivated.

 Drew Estate BarnSmoker in Kentucky.
Drove 25 hours R/T to learn how Kentucky Fire Cured cigars are made.
Weekend included impromptu Bourbon tasting tour.

Cigar Sampler Packs, Great Conversations, Hanging Out In Smoker Barns,
Rich Smell of Tobacco, Tour of Operation, Kick Ass Fire to Warm up,
BBQ and Booze. Met the Drew Estate Reps. 
!Fun Booze Cigars Fun!

Best Holiday Party
Cigar Aficion in Staten Island

 Meet manager Prasad at Cigar Aficion in Staten Island who organized this party
 honoring patrons with a kick ass, loud & proud Holiday party
complete with a live band, free flowing liquor & beer,
great food & cigar deals all night.

Freyja Cigar Release Party
RCB, Emma, @CigarManJoe (IG)

Best New Cigar & Dance Party
with the Viking Princess Emma Viktorsson
for the release of Freyja at Sanji Cigars, NJ

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