A Good Day of Work & Time for a Cigar

  

A friend of ours is moving into an old farmhouse that will be needing a lot of work. She’s always there for us so of course we will be there for her. Three young boys, who love being outdoors, have so many adventures ahead of them so work on cleaning up the brush and overgrowth, and trimming back some of the thorn bushes was first on the to do list. These were the first two days of many that we’ll be cleaning up and clearing out, followed by moving the family out and into their new home.

The farmhouse is located in Bucks County, Pa. just outside of Doylestown so when cigar time comes around we decided to check out a cigar store in the area. Classic Cigar Parlor is located on Main Street in Doylestown.

A view of restored 18th century townhouse. Picture taken from Classic Cigar's website
A view of restored 18th century townhouse. Picture taken from Classic Cigar’s website

It’s a restored 18th century townhouse and the brick exterior makes it stand out among the other businesses on the street.

It was about 3pm when we stopped working, closer to 4 by the time we packed up the tools, got out, and back to our trailer to freshen up. By the time we got to Classic Cigar it was 4:50 pm and were surprised to find the store closed at 5pm on Tuesdays. Inside, the original hearth was the focal point of the quaint but adequate lounge area. I saw photos of the area and was looking forward to sitting there relaxing with a cigar and good conversation. Oh well, that will have to be next time. We did come out of there with two very nice house blend cigars. I may be wrong but I think I remember TJ (assumed to be the owner) saying they were rolled right on the premises. There aren’t many places in the USA still standing that are 300 years old and it’s fitting that centuries old cigar rolling would be happening inside.

A look at the fully operational, original walk in hearth is the focal point of the small but inviting sitting area. Photo taken from ClassicCigars website so people were removed.
A look at the fully operational, original walk in hearth is the focal point of the small but inviting sitting area. Photo taken from ClassicCigars website so people were removed.

After talking with TJ for a few minutes we purchased a few cigars. TJ suggested (knowing we din’t live in the area) the pub across the street. Finney’s Pub is simply a local bar that allows smoking with a friendly welcoming staff and pretty good food. So there we sat after a hard physical work day, enjoying two very nice premium cigars over a beer and rum & Coke and eventually dinner. The cigars are blended to mimic Cuban blends. Mine was a Romeo & Juliett and Denny’s was a Bolivar. We would absolutely choose them again. Both smooth, clean burn and favorable taste. Both of us had to relate it several times during last 1/3 but we do smoke them to the end.

El & Denny at Finney's Pub
El & Denny at Finney’s Pub

FinneysPub2

Fineness Pub menu
Fineness Pub menu

We were set on sandwiches but being a pool league night they had a rib special. All Rick had to do was mention ribs and two orders were placed. As promised, fall off the bone, meaty and delicious. If you find yourself in Doylestown you will have plenty of options for food & drink from sandwiches to tapes to find dining. Boutique shop and artisan wares are abundant along with theaters & more. The area is  quaint, lots of history, and plenty of foot traffic. (a sure sign of socializing)

Day two was much nicer referring to the weather. We were there to work so we left our cigars in the trailer. We reserve our cigars for a time of enjoyment & relaxing. Even if we were ones to smoke them while working, it doesn’t work well when walking, trimming, and cutting brush and trees. By 4pm we were pretty tired and all we wanted to do was sit. Well that’s not totally accurate – we both wanted a cigar. The trailer was only 10 minutes away so off I went. It was a beautiful sunny day to just sit, relax, and appreciate the work we’d just done.  I got back, Denny & I lit up our cigars and……… the sky went dark followed by a down pour. Really! A mad dash was underway to save the cigars, put tools away and hit the road. A 10 minute ride and an hour sitting in the car to finish our cigars. Not my favorite spot but we were too tired and way to dirty to go elsewhere. Well until next time, thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

Eleanore Willis – your iTravel guide, sharing adventure and reasons for travel

Cigar Bar review – The Wooden Match, Bethlehem, Pa.

A few years ago after a day of volunteering, with fellow Lehigh Valley Business Group members, to run the beer tent for the Bethlehem’s Celtic Festival, we went to a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat and relax. It was The Wooden Match, a very popular cigar bar & restaurant. We sat outside, listened to music from a local performer and while some enjoyed a cigar, we all enjoyed the drinks and good company. I wasn’t a cigar smoker then but Denny was and we found it to be a place we would both enjoy.

The train station - home of the Wooden match in Bethlehem, Pa
The train station – home of the Wooden Match in Bethlehem, Pa

Fast forward to today, we have been back there once and I have no idea why not more often.  We changed that yesterday. The first time we were there we stayed outside except to take a look at the restaurant & humidor. It was extremely crowded (the festival grounds are right next to the bar) so we didn’t linger inside.

I will add with my recently joining the Lehigh Valley Cigar Club, the Wooden Match has been in the front of our mind as the group meets there frequently. Having to travel further south yesterday we chose to make it our half way stop for a cigar and cocktail. It’s a good hour drive to get here but since much of our travel is in this direction I’m sure this time it won’t be as long before we’re back.

Let me take you on a tour.

The building (photo above) was an old train station built near the turn of the century – early 1900’s. The Lehigh canal was no longer the best means to transport cargo as the railroad had come through the area.

The Artisan Wine Bar which used to service the freight yard.
The Artisan Wine Bar which used to service the freight yard.

The station is now home to the cigar bar while the building right next store, which serviced the freight yard, is home to the more recently opened Artisan Wine and Cheese Cellars.

As you enter the station a small wall humidor is the prominent feature.

Humidor in the entryway of the bar of the Wooden Match.
Humidor in the entryway of the bar of the Wooden Match.

This, and a sign that says “Yes, you can smoke cigars here” ensures patrons know cigars are sold and smoked here. The blackboard on the wall provides specials, happy hour times, and what ever needs sharing.

 

2nd half of the blackboard in the vestibule.
2nd half of the blackboard in the vestibule.
Blackboard in the entrance of bar provides Happy hour info
Blackboard in the entrance of bar provides Happy hour info

Inside there are three floors. The lower level is used primarily for private functions. The second floor (entry level) is the bar & restaurant, and the newly renovated third floor is the LVCC  member only cigar lounge. I don’t know much about the private lounge upstairs as I’ve not yet seen it but I understand it has the usual big screen TV, a pool table, card table, and of course comfortable seating. I believe menu service is available from the bar / restaurant.

 

I will focus on the bar area.

Full service & well stocked bar at the Wooden Match
Full service & well stocked bar at the Wooden Match
Wide view of the bar room at the Wooden Match
Wide view of the bar room at the Wooden Match

Much of the woodwork, flooring and parts of the wood planked ceiling appear to be original. At the very least – very old. It is a huge part of the buildings appeal.

Visually pleasing art & signs on the wall in the bar room.
Visually pleasing art & signs on the wall in the bar room.

The art work is time appropriate showing Bethlehem’s history with a few modern pieces mixed in. The bathrooms are also vintage in style but updated in appeal. Overall it’s a very comfortable place to spend a few hours relaxing with friends over drinks and, to this audience, a nice cigar. Members of the staff I spoke to were all very pleasant and helpful. It was a Sunday afternoon so the people around us all seemed to be in weekend relax mode, as opposed to weekday needing to wind down mode.  I enjoyed a very nice, made from scratch with special requests, mojito with my 1502 Emerald. Denny was into his Sunday Bloody Mary specialty go with his Perdomo 2. We did not have anything to eat but, by the look of the dishes coming out of the kitchen and comments of those around us, it’s worth checking out.

MatchHumidor.mov Finally there is a small but adequate humidor (that makes 2).  The bar area is branded by Drew Estates but minimally compared to others I’ve seen.

Drew estates branding on the chairs.
Drew estates branding on the chairs.

Now that the weather is breaking the outside will provide tables and umbrellas along the tracks (yes there is still an active train) for both dining or simply relaxing with friends over drinks and yes, cigars. The Match is open daily for lunch & dinner.

Just across the parking lot is the Artisan. We’ve not yet been there but will certainly visit soon. It’s open Wed. through Sat. after 6pm. There are a number of cigar lounges in the Lehigh Valley (home of the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton) but few are cigar bars ( The Leaf – I’ve written about as well, is in Easton). If you are from, or traveling through the valley, I recommend stopping by. It will be worth the trip.

Till next time, enjoy the journey.

Eleanore Willis, your iTravelGuide sharing my journey into the cigar lifestyle.

Cigar and Lounge Review – CI Hamburg, Perdomo Craft Series Pilsner and the Rake

About two hours away from (my) home is Cigars International’s super store. I’ve been wanting to stop in for some time now but I rarely travel in that direction. We recently headed out to the Harrisburg area so it gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that on the way home for a cold beer and cigar.

CI- Exterior of building at night
CI- Exterior of building at night
View of store area from upper level bar area.
View of store area from upper level bar area.

Let me start with, it is a superstore. Walking in the front door you notice the entire store is an open humidor. About three quarters of the first floor is cigar store with a huge selection of cigars, a separate room for rolling demonstrations or classes, and of course cigar and pipe related accessories. Finally a special corner of “Cool Shit” as the sign says, for those hard to find gifts ideas and items for your cigar room. There were several staff members around to answer questions and point you in the right direction.

View of downstairs bar from 2nd level.
View of downstairs bar from 2nd level.

So that leaves a quarter of the floor space on the first floor for a bar, pool table and plenty of chairs and tables to relax. The decor is inviting and appropriate for rural Pa. – several animal mounts on the walls and a full size Mountain Lion perched comfortably for people watching. The interior structure is barn style with beautiful beams and open rafters. I can’t believe I have no photos of the animals or the beams.

Almost the entire store area is open above ( as seen in photo above) but directly above the bar is a second floor bar, again with ample room for relaxing. The overall decor throughout is rustic meets industrial. Along the side are several overstuffed chairs in sections facing one another for relaxing conversations and TVs are scattered about.

View of 2nd level bar at Cigars International
View of 2nd level bar at Cigars International

Restrooms are on both levels as are two outside seating areas. The first floor  patio and the second floor balcony wrap around two sides of the building, upstairs being just a bit smaller. All in all, there is a lot of outdoor seating. My only complaint would be the deck does not face the setting sun.

Outside deck at Cigars International
Outside deck at Cigars International

If you’ve experienced a cigar bar or lounge sponsored by Drew Estates you will understand my saying it was done in true DE style.

Sampling of Drew Estate artwork
Drew Estate artwork- A view of Nicaragua.
DrewEstate artwork - LigaPrivada Flying Pig
DrewEstate artwork – LigaPrivada Flying Pig
DrewEstates art of LigaPrivada cigar with fish underwater.
DrewEstates art of LigaPrivada cigar with fish underwater.

There is beautiful art work on the walls and typical merchandise for name recognition. The ladies room even has a mirror with branded etching. I find DE’s branding is generally done very tastefully. This was no different. While the bar is Drew Estate branded, the lounge area boasts a large Rocky Patel neon sign with additional branding.

When we arrived we took time to look at the cigar selection, we each chose a cigar to enjoy, and settled in on the upper level bar area.

Perdomo Craft Series - Pilsner
Perdomo Craft Series – Pilsner

Earlier in the day I had decided I would be smoking a Perdomo Craft Series – Pilsner and was looking forward to a cold beer ( it was a beautiful sunny spring day)Denny chose the Rake. I asked the bartender to suggest a pilsner from their craft selection but unfortunately the only option was Miller Lite. Not what I was hoping for. I chose the Fat Tire Amber Ale. Now I wish I had picked up the Craft Series Amber cigar but too late – I was already into my cigar. However, it wasn’t a bad pair. I am not a big beer drinker but I do like the Fat Tire and I was very happy with my Perdomo cigar.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Perdomo series I’ve added these descriptions which I took straight from the Cigars International website.

Perdomo Craft series Amber This gorgeous cigar comes draped in a Cuban-seed Nicaraguan Sun Grown wrapper containing a Nicaraguan binder, and Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers. The Perdomo Craft Series Amber is medium to full-bodied with flavors of leather, spice, and oak that will mingle well with hop forward style beers such as ambers, pale ales, lagers, Oktoberfests, and IPAs.

Perdomo Craft Series Pilsner features a creamy US Connecticut wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan long-fillers. This is a mild to medium-bodied cigar whose notes of cream, subtle spice, and earth interplay perfectly with your favorite pilsner, white or cream ale, and golden or light lagers. 

I personally found this to be a very nice cigar. I felt like it was a treat and wasn’t ready for it to be gone. Denny had a Perdomo earlier in the day. For him, the cigar I had was a great morning cigar but a bit too mild for later in the day. If that’s your tendency go for the stout.

Perdomo Craft Series Stout comes dressed in a dark, oily, Nicaraguan maduro wrapper concealing a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan Cuban-seed long-fillers. The cigar is medium to full-bodied with rich flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, spice, and earth that will match up perfectly with stouts, porters, brown ales, bocks, and imperial stouts. 

Denny at CI with his Rake & Cuba Libre & my Perdomo & Fat Tire
Denny at CI with his Rake & Cuba Libre & my Perdomo & Fat Tire

Denny enjoyed his Rake with a Bacardi & Coke – no surprise there. This cigar, by MoyaRuiz, is a med-full, but don’t let it turn you away if you are not a full body cigar smoker. It’s not harsh or overwhelming. I have enjoyed this stick as well. The Rake is wrapped in Connecticut broadleaf with Nica fillers.  Its overall appearance is very attractive and has a great draw.

It is a full service bar with a small but adequate “munchies menu” for light food such as nachos.

Unique offering - Pre set combo pricing on select drinks and cigar pairings
Unique offering – Pre set combo pricing on select drinks and cigar pairings

An item I found interesting was the “Combo Menu” I’ve blogged before about how a really good cigar can be off, or a not so pleasant experience can be the result of the pairing. With the combo menu the guess work is done for you. Select pairings of a cigar and beverage at a combo price. Unique in my experience, but admittedly that’s limited.

What did our visit cost us? The cigars (single purchase) ran $10.95 for the Rake and $7.75 for the Perdomo. Drinks were very reasonable at $4.00 a piece for the rum & coke and beer. They also have several nightly and happy hour specials. We were there on a Sunday late afternoon and the store and bar had constant activity.

All in all it’s a very comfortable place & I would be a frequent patron if I lived closer. Maybe I will think twice about heading west now that we have a great place to stop, stretch our legs and enjoy a cigar. I will warn you this is in a shopping district so you might find yourself spending additional money. Or, the non smokers have shopping options while the cigar smoker takes a cigar break. If you are an outdoors(wo)man you might enjoy stopping next door at Cabelas. Their wildlife displays are reason enough to stop in for those not looking to shop.

Denny & El selfie at CI-Hamburg
Denny & El selfie at CI-Hamburg

The CI superstore is located off Route 78 Exit 29 in Hamburg, Pa.

I hope you enjoyed my take on the CI superstore, the Rake and Perdomo Craft Series cigars.

Eleanore Willis – your iTravelGuide® sharing the cigar lifestyle & experiences on the road.

Cigar & Lounge review: J Fuego -Origen & Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant -Easton, Pa.

The other night Denny & I were at Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant. It has been a while and it was nice to be there to enjoy a cigar and see others we haven’t seen since winter set in. Some of you may know this is one of our favorite places. I don’t mind saying the reason is, since day one, we felt very welcome and comfortable.

Leaf Restaurant & Cigar Bar
Leaf Restaurant & Cigar Bar

I wasn’t a smoker at the time but that didn’t matter as I felt as included as Denny did. This was true at the bar, the tables, and yes, even in the humidor and lounge. Since I’ve taken up cigar smoking I am more engaged in the conversations but never intimidated to ask questions from smokers or staff. I openly admit I’m a newbie and some people can get a bit “snotty”  thinking you shouldn’t be there or worthy of their time, but not here. Sure, you’ll find fewer people talking to strangers in the restaurant but not unheard of. One very busy night (no open tables or seats at the bar) a couple invited us to join them at their table. Turned out to be a great evening of conversation. Over the years the only complaints I’ve heard have been about inconsistencies in the restaurant. While I personally have not had a bad meal, there have been several menu and staff changes which could account for the comments. Although I was disappointed once or twice to see a menu item disappear, I have to say when there are issues, they make necessary corrections to move forward and provide a better guest experience which I consider good business.

The bar at Leaf Cigar bar & Restaurant - Easton Pa. Famous Smoke Shop
The bar at Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant – Easton Pa. Famous Smoke Shop
Leaf restaurant and bar room
Leaf restaurant and bar room. The decor has changed a bit but otherwise same.

Leaf is located in Easton Pa. and part of Famous Smoke Shop, one of the top online cigar companies. It’s in front of the warehouse and for being tucked away in an industrial area we were surprised how busy they were. Now we know why. The cigar environment is inviting – ventilation is excellent, quality food, the food  and drinks are reasonably priced, people are friendly and the the cigar selection is vast, well kept and well priced. Retail product includes cigar, pipe and hookah accessories and the staff are very knowledgable. There is no membership  but you can rent a locker. It will cost you $200 / year or $20. monthly. You will receive a 20% discount in the humidor and two cigars / month. The lounge is sponsored by Drew Estates. They also offer a 10% discount to members of the Lehigh Valley Cigar Club. Maybe others so ask if you are a member of a cigar club.

Packaging of the J Fuente Origen
Packaging of the J Fuego Origen

On our visit that night we were given a cigar to try. A J Fuego cigar, Origen – size 5 x 44 considered original. Somewhat tapered at both ends but the cap reveals which end is which and no cutting necessary.

J Fuente Origen cigar - 5x44 original
J Fuego Origen cigar – 5×44 original

It comes in a Natural and Maduro wrap, binder is Costarican Corojo and fillers are Nica and Honduran Corojo. The Maduro also has Mexican San Andreas filler. Although it’s smaller in size it is a full 45 minute smoke. As for cost, a 5 pack will run you $13-$15 making it affordable at  $3.00 / stick.

I was pleased. Described as a full body cigar I didn’t know what to expect. The draw was perfect, burn was just as good and I only lit it once. As for earthy and sweet taste, of course I didn’t get that but I did thoroughly enjoyed the cigar. Denny on the other hand agreed with the quality remarks but found it too mild for him. Aroma is hard to detect around other cigars but the cigar itself had a pleasant smell, no common barn yard, or hay smell that I could detect. Yes I have been around a few barns and while not having a great sense of smell – I can tell a barn when I’m near it. Horses I love, cows and pigs – that would be no!

My choice that day for pairing was Wild Turkey on the rocks. I have learned to appreciate a glass of whiskey with a cigar but I mix it up with a variety of spirits. Denny on the other hand likes his rum with or without a cigar. He likes red wine and may stray to tequila or a cordial depending on factors of the night but his main stay is a Cuba Libra (Bacardi and Coke with a lime).

Thanks for letting me share my experience. I’ll be back with more.

Eleanore Willis – your iTravelGuide® sharing a cigar adventure.

My initial take on the cut, draw, light and burn of the cigar and my experience with each.

When I started out on this adventure I was full of questions. Some of them had simple answers and others, although given answers from seasoned cigar smokers, took experience on my part to fully understand what I was being told. And than there are times where I was at a loss for how to articulate the question so I was left find answers through my own experience. To be honest I do believe discovery is the best teacher but we have to be interested, and open to learning,  or the discovery can be lost without growth. The following are a few things I’ve questioned and learned. I will follow up at the end with my personal experiences.

The cut is often a topic of conversation especially for newbies. I have been told it depends on the cigar and I have been told it’s a preference. I used to prefer the punch. My husband prefers scissors but asking around that does not seem too common. Like many, I do not like the tobacco in my mouth that you sometimes get with a cut.

Choices are straight or V cut, scissors or punch (different sizes including a series of pin holes). I find the Pros and Cons to be;

3 Cutters Top-combo V cut & straight guillotine Middle-basic straight cut and Bottom - straight cut with backstop to ensure proper depth of cut.
3 Cutters Top-combo V cut & straight guillotine, Middle-basic straight cut and, Bottom – straight cut with backstop to ensure proper depth of cut.

Straight Cut Pros – Allows for best draw most often, works with any size ring gauge, availability and cost effective,

Straight Cut Cons – Can cut too deep

V-Cut Pro – Allows for a deeper cut without ruining the cap, less tobacco pieces, cross between punch & straight cut

V-Cut Cons – Don’t know of any.

                                                                          

                                                                 

Photo of scissors Left-closed Right -open
Photo of scissors Left-closed Right -open

Scissors Pros – I have to say this is a tool of personal preference. You either like or don’t like it therefor the Pros and cons are somewhat irrelevant. The end result is equal to a straight cut.                                                                

                                                      Scissors Cons – BIG ONE- if you can’t adapt to it, like me, you can really butcher up your cigar. I am speaking from personal experience.

Punch  Pros– I believe the most common reason for punching is to eliminate tobacco in your mouth. It does this quite well.  Ring gauges up to 48-50 are, considered by many, perfect for a punch. Punches come in a variety of sizes and found on lighters or as key rings.

Punch examples. Top left-a table lighter with built in punch - 2 size holes. Right-pocket lighter with 1 punch and bottom is common punch on keyring
Punch examples. Top left-a table lighter with built in punch – 2 size holes. Right-pocket lighter with 1 punch and bottom is common punch on keyring

Punch Cons – If you have a tight draw it will be even tighter with a punch. It’s simple physics that a smaller exit point means less air/smoke will exit the cigar.

The punch takes a little finesse in that it is easy to crack the cap. If the wrapper is dry there is no avoiding it. The size of the cigar dictates the size of the punch. Too small and you won’t get enough on the draw. However if you only have a small punch you may prefer two holes.

Almost every review I’ve read, or viewed, mentions the draw. Of course there are bad ones out there or there wouldn’t be a discussion – if you think about it, without a bad draw there’s no such thing as a good draw. I don’t know, if asked, what percentage of the cigars one smokes have hard, or very bad draw. And, is 5% acceptable or too many? I’d be interested in knowing if people experience a bad draw, do they try that same blend again to see if it is an off cigar or assume that’s what that cigar is like? I would hope they try it again at least once more. The manufacturers have a bench mark to hit when rolling. Some use a gauge to measure the draw while others do not. A cigar rolled too tight won’t draw or burn properly and it’s  definitely not relaxing to smoke. There are other reasons for a tight draw, it might be plugged – which can be remedied, or contain sticks or large veins which can not. Happily the latter is not common with a quality cigar.

My question is does ring gauge factor into the draw? Or is that a non factor if it’s a quality product & rolled properly?

The light / burn is a hit and miss kinda thing for me.

Wooden matches and cedar spills. Splits are thin strips of cedar which some claim is the only way to light a cigar.
Wooden matches and cedar spills. Splils are thin strips of cedar which some claim is the only way to light a cigar.

Choices for lighting your cigar range from a basic match, using a cedar spill, basic lighter, torch lighter (with greater force behind flame) having 1, 2 or 3 flames and the table torch (which is basically a Butane burner). Some prefer matches over the lighter stating they can taste the butane.

two styles of table torches.
Two styles of table torches.

A basic lighter is fine although, I question if the torch is hotter? This is certainly preferred for outdoor use as it’s wind resistant. Using 1,2 or 3 flames depends on the cigar size you prefer. 3 Flames can certainly over burn the foot of a cigar < 50 ring gauge. Conversely a single flame will take a lot longer to light a 54+ size. The last one is a table top lighter found in many smoke lounges.

I am told the better the cigar the better the burn. And factors like a windy day and, or, spending time (lots of time) taking photos and posting on SM and not smoking, contribute to the need to relight. But, I have smoked so-so, good, and very good (I can’t say I have had any where near the best) and most, not all, have gone out at times. To be honest I’ve had inexpensive sticks stay lit right next to the best I’ve had. And I’ve been disappointed in some very good cigars when I’ve not been ignoring them (talking or posting). So I am still studying this topic and it’s still a hit & miss for me.

Now my experience on each topic.

The Cut  I think this is a newbie pattern. I did prefer the punch because of the tobacco. I have learned with a quality premium cigar, if you cut properly, and the cigar is properly humidified, a straight cut doesn’t really give you bits of tobacco. I will credit Bryan from CigarObsession for articulating this in a way that stuck with me. (not verbatim), the very way the cigar is rolled lends itself to a straight cut for ultimate smoking. Any other cut is limiting it’s performance. When he said that I realized I had ( without thought) moved on from the punch to cutting my cigars. I had by this point also learned how good I was at totally butchering a cigar with Denny’s scissors. So much so I let him cut my cigars if scissors are my only option.

The Draw. I’ve tried easily 90+ different blends and multiples of most and to date there are two that I will not smoke again. Both made me physically ill and I couldn’t smoke them. I will not try a second time. Two others; my chief complaint was, they were too much work – hard draw, I had to recut, unplug, relight constantly and that’s not why I smoke cigars. Of those two, one, even the manufacturer said others have had the same problem but it’s not the majority of the time. To their credit, I did try that cigar again and found it quite nice. However, the third time it was not. No more. The other I am told must be a one off because the cigar gets no complaints. I will try that line again, maybe with a different wrapper. All the others, on a scale of 1-5 had a draw of 3-5. I believe the larger ring gauges > 54 are tighter draw but my question is, is there a basis for that or just happen to be my experience? Not a burning question as I’m partial to toro and a size or two smaller.

Light / Burn  This is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t mind if I’m talking too much or I’m engaged in taking photos and posting on SM but if I’m just relaxing and enjoying my cigar while engaged in a conversation I want my cigar to stay lit. If I have to get up to refresh my beverage I like a cigar that stays lit, as it should (and most do). The majority of cigars, in my experience, stay lit through the first two thirds. I suppose many are OK with that as I see that’s where many smokers are done with their cigar. I happen to enjoy the nub so to go that far only to spend the last third lighting it 3-4-5 times is very annoying. There have been a handful of times that I have NOT had to relight the cigar at all. I personally don’t think that’s a good percentage. But with so many variables it’s hard to make comparisons. As for an even burn, I have experienced more good than bad. If it results in constant lighting to even it out I do get frustrated – otherwise I don’t care so much. Some cigars are notorious for canoeing – burning only half the cigar lengthwise. When they don’t recover it too can be annoying.

Feel free to share your experience or questions through our social media sights. Until I eliminate the spam comments from the blog I will not be taking comments on the blog. Sorry for the inconvenience and I appreciate your understanding.

Eleanore Willis     Sharing my journey of cigars

 

Making a Living – The very small business of Cigars

 

Lets face it, the current economy stinks and even if you are lucky enough to have a good job or career does anyone really have job security these days? More than a few people have 2nd jobs, or a business from home, to offset the bills or put some money aside for emergencies. But others may be looking for that 2nd job or considering options such as starting a business of their own. But doing what is the question for many. This is when you hear the voice of others saying, do what you know or do what you love.  Or, if you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life. There’s truth to that, if you can figure out a way of making what you love pay the bills. If nothing else the struggling home-based business model of the 1990’s combined with the casual attitude of the millennial generation, laid the ground work for the freelancer which has grown substantially in this poor economy. What was once considered unprofessional by some, a hobby by others, is now the norm. Independent, freelancer, home-based, one man band, whatever you want to call them, it’s OK. They are making money if they work at it and do a good job.

Let’s say you have a passion for cigars and you want to start a business that will allow you to smoke a cigar during the day and, one that will at least, support your habit. This may not be a lifestyle that requires expensive equipment like scuba diving or boating but cigars can get pricey especially if you smoke 2+ a day.

What can you do to make money with that criteria?  We’ve put it out there that this is part of the cigar being a lifestyle so we wanted to explore these possibilities. Cigar Java will be researching and interviewing, then blogging and doing video segments on the topic. If you run a micro or small business (less than 5 employees) that’s focused around cigars, or know someone who does, let us know.  But remember the key is you have to be making money at this and soliciting yourself, i.e business name, networking, social media. We aren’t looking for hobbyists who wish they were making money. Maybe the tips you learn here will help with that.

Here’s a few thoughts to get the ball rolling.  There are micro small businesses, usually an individual or a couple. Many are freelancers and home-based. But, if brick & mortar, they are classified as small business – perhaps Mom & Pop businesses. And there are small businesses which can, by the federal government definition, have 100 employees and revenues upwards of 10 million dollars. We are focusing on the micro & small business of less than 5 employees. All of these professions have niche areas that could focus on the cigar lifestyle; Photographers, Videographer, Writers, Event planners, Crafters, Travel professional, Business coach / mentor, Critic, Artists, Reviews, Marketing, Advertising, TV, Internet or Radio series. (technology does allow this to be done on a small scale)

More specific, cigar roller, product inventor, retailer or non-bar/restaurant related lounge. There are also mobile lounges and many event planners now include cigar stations (without providing the lounge location, they will bring the cigars and necessary paraphernalia for your guests to enjoy at your location / event.

For the most part, a bar or restaurant is beyond the scope of this model as it generally requires a greater knowledge & business background, financial and personnel support and would fall into the federal definition of a small business.

Unfortunately I have been inundated with spam every time I allow comments on my blog regardless of my efforts to eliminate the problem. So, if you care to share, and I hope you do,  please do so on the social media post for the blog on FB, IG or TW.

The question is, What are you, or someone you know, doing to earn a living from your love of the cigar? What was the biggest hurdle getting started? What ideas can you share for others who want to get started?

To a better economy and taking time to reflect over a good cigar.

Eleanore Willis

 

My (In)Ability to Distinguish Taste in Cigars

Eleanore enjoying a cigar outside
Eleanore enjoying a cigar outside

In my SM posts and blogs I’ve already disclosed my inability to distinguish flavors tastes from the tobacco, natural or infused, unless it’s very apparent on the wrapper itself. Apparently there are even different types of “sweet” tastes.  I would normally tell you I don’t like sweets but that’s when my son would visit, taste something I am eating or drinking, and tell me it’s too sweet. In return I give him a look of total confusion. Oh well, what can I say, I do not have a discerning palate – good or bad we all have to work with what we were given. This is where I add I don’t always distinguish one scent from another either. Funny thing is other senses are in overdrive. I pick up the tiniest change in temperature, am acutely aware of being on an incline, and although I do not taste any peppery flavor in a cigar, I am immediately signaled by the presence of a tingly sensation . I didn’t know that before but I love knowing it now. I’ve also  learned red, green, and black peppers all tingle in different places – totally crazy.  This also gives me meaningful insight (to me anyway) into how a blind person, or one with any disability for that matter, adapts.

What does all this mean anyway? Nothing! It’s true I’ve started smoking cigars rather recently but I’ve been around cigar smokers for many years and, with exception*, I have NEVER heard a conversation about the intricacies of spice or notes. You will hear people in conversation talk about a good, bad or great smoke. They will share the draw or tendency to go out. Someone might ask about the strength or brand if unfamiliar. BUT, I have had MANY conversations about NOT tasting all those flavors the reviewers come up with. Now I’m not saying the flavors aren’t there (although come on, some reviewers do get extreme) so much as, does the average cigar enthusiast really care? Yes, there are some who do, and for those cigar aficionados there are very good review resources available. However, the fact that I don’t detect the taste of the green or red pepper or the distinguish the hazelnut from the cocoa doesn’t mean I enjoy my cigar any less. In the beginning I would get hung up trying to improve my ability to distinguish taste but it not knowing didn’t change my enjoyment. I will remind you this is just about the ability to distinguish taste. I am always learning something and consider it a waste if not. I certainly want to be informed, hold an intelligent conversation and enjoy what I smoke.

Does the flavor matter? Of course it does. My ability to detect it does not. The fact that I like one cigar over the other has everything to do with how that cigar taste. In a separate blog I liken the blending process to the executive chef. The ability to take the same primary ingredient ( that others start with – in this case tobacco) and prepare it in a way as to draw out natural flavors, or process it to enhance those flavors, and do it over and over consistently, is what makes the end product worthy of your purchase. Many go back to a restaurant because of the chef and many buy cigars based on the blender because they make it taste enjoyable.

If you would like to hone in on your what you’re tasting I am sharing two charts.

TobaccoFlavorChart from Stogiefresh.info
TobaccoFlavorChart from Stogiefresh.info

I took from them both from internet. (crediting where I took them) I suggest you look at the flavors others commonly find and decide what you are experiencing in the cigar as you smoke. Some flavors are very fleeting, others come and go, while others last the entire cigar.

Cigar flavor wheel from aspiringgentelman.com
Cigar flavor wheel from aspiringgentelman.com

Keep in mind much of what we taste comes from our sense of smell. If you retrohale you will taste more. If you are eating, or drinking, it will influence you as it passes your nostrils. Not to mention pairing can distinctively change the taste of the cigar by bringing out different flavors. The same with your beverage.

Pairing a Flor de Selva cigar with Laphroaig scotch
Pairing a Flor de Selva cigar with Laphroaig scotch

Bottomline, unless your job is to blend or QC cigars, Retailer/Tobaconist where you are advising others for a purchase, or Professional reviewing the cigar, what you need to do is simple.
√ LIKE and relax & enjoy or √ DISLIKE and move on to another.

El & Denny @ Leaf Cigar bar enjoying the evening
El & Denny @ Leaf Cigar bar enjoying the evening

Eleanore
*The exceptions; A person in the room is a cigar Rep or Broker, known to review, or have expertise. The topic of the night is relevant. Everyone is smoking the same or similar cigar etc. This is not the same as a bunch of friends enjoying a cigar.

Cigar Lounge review – Mr & Ms Cigar, Milford Pa.

 

Driving along Rt 6 in Milford, Pa. there’s a place called Apple Valley Village. In it you’ll find maybe 4-6 buildings – an assortment from restaurants to retailers. Milford is a historical, artsy, tourist town and most of it is eclectic and whimsical. You wouldn’t expect to find a cigar lounge in the middle of this little retail village but there it sits in it’s whimsical glory – Mr & Ms Cigar and it works just fine in Milford, Pa.

 

Sign on the front window of Mr & Ms Cigars in Milford Pa.
Sign on the front window of Mr & Ms Cigars in Milford Pa.

Mr & Ms. Cigar has been in business for 40 years, 29 of those years in this location. There are four areas where cigars and people come together; a retail area to supply all your needs and three areas to relax with friends.

Outside patio for cigar smoking.
Outside patio for cigar smoking.

Areas to relax include one on the outside, one in the retail area and one in the back which is a members only lounge.

Back room for members only except when open to public when hosting events.
Back room for members only except when open to public when hosting events.

The private room, also called the Sinatra lounge, has as you’d expect photos and memorabilia adorning the walls, a TV, and bar station (BYOB). Although this is a private members lounge it is open during events (3-4 x a year). The retail area lounge has a big screen TV, expresso machine, chess set and multiple magazines to keep you occupied but you can just sit back in the overstuffed chairs or couch and enjoy the company. It’s homey & comfortable. When we were there it was obvious there are several regulars, men & woman, old and young, just relaxing with a good stick. The retail area is jam packed with premium cigars, over 200 brands from Ashton, Villiger, Punch, Perdomo and a lot more. They carry the accessories you need as well as pipes, tobacco & pipe products. Ed, the owner is very knowledgeable, a certified tobacconist, and ready to answer questions from the newbie to the aficionado or simply engage in conversation.

Being a tourism area it may not be what you expect but sitting on the outside deck is quite relaxing. There’s an Italian restaurant , a souvenir store, a sports outfitter and a small lake with lots of people walking around. if you enjoy people watching, sitting on the deck with the umbrella and whimsical flags and garden ornaments are very inviting.

Fall is beautiful in this area but winter is coming and when it does, those of us who usually smoke outside will be turning indoors. If you are local to the Pike County, Pa or Port Jervis NY  area, or on the road traveling on historic Rt 6, take a break and stop in at Mr & Ms Cigars in Milford, Pa.

Cigar Java’s not about the cigar. We’re about cigars and people coming together.

New Video upload- Delaware Cigar Festival

A few weeks ago CigarJava had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Delaware Cigar Festival where we interviewed Joe Bankston. Joe is the GM of the cigar division of Delaware Cigars and the man in charge of this years festival. In this video we share the interview with Joe and the surroundings for your enjoyment. If you missed this year mark your calendar for 2016. Click photo to view.

Hosts Eleanore & Denny Willis share their day at the Delaware Cigar festival 2015
Hosts Eleanore & Denny Willis share their day at the Delaware Cigar festival 2015

While at the festival we also interviewed several cigar companies as well as a few of the attendees. We weren’t able to get to all the vendors but the ones we did manage to speak to will be part of  upcoming Cigar Java TV series episodes. Episodes will be  available on Youtube.com/c/cigarjavatv and we’ll post notices here and our other social media sites to ensure you don’t miss an episode. Enjoy :-)

 

Lounge Review – Beer Nuts, Brodheadsville, Pa.

Traveling state Rt 209 in Brodheadsville, Pa. with friends we stopped at a cigar lounge that was inside a beer distributor (other states often call the package stores). Retail customers can purchase beer in 12 packs, cases or kegs, along with soda, snacks and tobacco products.

WalkIn Humidor at Beer Nuts
WalkIn Humidor at Beer Nuts

Rarely do you see premium cigars, let alone a walk in humidor and cigar lounge, so we decided to go inside. You can purchase a 12 pack of cold beer and drink it in the lounge, which is exactly what we did.

 

Entrance from humidor into cigar lounge
Entrance from humidor into cigar lounge

Strategically placed, the way to the lounge is through the humidor and the moment you walk into the humidor you think, this is really nice. The selection was larger than expected and,(although somewhat dusty all single cigars were wrapped), the humidity was well maintained. Between the group we purchased a Nat Sherman Host,  La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amore, Java Latte and a Tabak Especial. They had several additional brands with a full range of strengths and price to meet the choice of just about anyone.IMG_2469

The lounge was empty so we had it to ourselves. I suppose we could have smoked our own cigars but we chose to purchase from them.Beer Nuts 4

The leather chairs & couch, magazines, TV, pool table, juke box, etc. were all very nice but it could have been a bit cleaner. Ashtrays were plentiful but still ashes covered the table as did related trash, wrappers, labels, and bottle caps. I’ll give them it was the end of the night. Maybe the one person working didn’t have an opportunity to leave the register.Beer Nuts 5

On the other hand the bathroom was out of order, the shelving units were empty (large wall units making it very un-inviting) and what was once a beautiful antique roll top humidor was now simply a counter for magazines. The room had great potential but was lacking.  The pool table, I’m sure, gets the most attention.Beer Nuts 3

We had the TV on but if the old style juke box works ( we didn’t try) it too is a nice piece. Overall it was still a nice place to hang out.

The biggest downside was the lack of interest on the part of the employee, very impressionable. We didn’t really need his attention so it had no negative impact on us. He was in the store and we were in the lounge relaxing, until the rain came down. Actually it was more of a horrendous downpour. Prior to the rain we actually eyed a spot on the ceiling and commented about it falling down if they had a good rain and here we were wondering how long it would take. The drips began so we went to tell the man at the register. He brought a bucket saying nothing. I tried to engage a conversation but it was not to be. Asking what cigars he prefers his response was “ Me? I don’t smoke.” He turned and walked out. Maybe he had a busy day and was tired. He certainly didn’t have to be interested in cigars. He had to come back in a few times for additional water streams from the rain and shortly after it was time to close.

Although the room could use a bit of attention, it was a welcome spot to take a break from the road. Clearly someone likes cigars, if only the owner, or there wouldn’t be a lounge and humidor. It was a nice break for us as we still had a drive in front of us. We had a cigar, some beer and played some pool. This is a rural area and so it could very well be a great spot for those in the area to hang out with friends. We’ll check it out another time to see if it’s the norm for it to be so unkept and the staff less than personable or was it just an off day. It certainly didn’t change our cigar or our ability to relax and enjoy the company of friends.IMG_2480