Archive | October, 2006

Stogie Commentary: Smokin’ Halloween Costumes

31 Oct 2006

Still trying to throw together that last-minute Halloween costume before you head out drinking or (God forbid) harassing your neighbors for candy? Want to be able to smoke a cigar? Well, you’re in luck.

As you can see to the right, being the huge Chicago Bears fan that I am, this weekend I decided to hit the town as a Superfan. It was great because I was able to satisfy my urges for cigars and salted meats while in character.

But I realize not all of you are fans of Da (undefeated) Bears. So we here at have come up with a pretty decent list (in no particular order) of great stogie-wielding costume ideas. This is by no means comprehensive, but feel free to leave further suggestions as comments.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whether you’re going as The Governator or one of his gun-toting movie characters, a big cigar won’t look out of place.

2. Michael Jordan. Now in retirement, the greatest basketball player ever never hits the links without a Macanudo.

3. Groucho Marx. Sure, it’s a little dated, but this American icon loved his stogies.

4. Ulysses S. Grant. Some historians say the super-sized prez smoked around 20 cigars a day. Greatest president ever?

5. Kramer. Just try not to burn down Suzan’s log cabin.

6. Scarface. He was Tony Montana. The world will remember him by another name…

7. Bill Clinton and/or Monica Lewinsky. This costume is great for couples. Just remember that cigars are for smoking.

8. Sigmund Freud. Do you think the cigar-smoking neurologist was into cigars because he was envious of his father’s you-know-what?

9. Jesse Ventura. I’d recommend going as his Blain character from Predator. (Note: Jesse is the second future governor from this cast. Did someone say Carl Weathers in 2006?)

10. Hot cigar girl. Enough said.

11. Winston Churchill. Leading (and smoking) England through World War II, this prime minister is by far the manliest British dude ever. By far.

12. Mark Twain. He made it a rule “never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.”

13. Clint Eastwood. Step one: Grab a six-shooter, a cowboy hat, and a Backwoods cigar. Step two: Go kill some Indians.

14. A dictator. Any Pinko Commie like Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, or Che Guevara will do.

15. A cigar store Indian. Watch out for Clint Eastwoods.

Patrick A


Stogie News: NBA Legend, Cigar Enthusiast Passes

30 Oct 2006

On Saturday, legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Red Auerbach passed away at 89. Auerbach coached the Boston Celtics to nine NBA Championships before leading them to another seven as an executive with the team:

Arnold “Red” Auerbach, 89, in failing health the last few years, died of a heart attack Saturday in Washington, D.C., which he made his home.

Auerbach was part of the NBA from its inception in 1946. He coached 11 Hall of Famers and set the standard for coaches and personnel directors with his keen eye for talent. He won a record-tying nine titles as coach, including eight in a row from 1958-59 through 1965-66.

“He was always intensely focused on the game, the game, the game and the respect people have to have for the game,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.

Much to the chagrin of his opponents, Auerbach would always light a “victory cigar” after Celtics wins, sometimes even before the game ended when a Celtics victory was assured. Indeed, he has been described as the inventor of the victory cigar.

Whether or not that’s true, he certainly was the best known proponent of the celebration and a man who would have no use for the smoking bans of today. According to basketball commentator Dick Vitale, Auerbach was once asked what would happen if he tried to light up his trademark smoke in an NBA arena today. Auerbach responded, “Who would try and stop me?”

Describing Auerbach’s tastes in cigars, fellow Celtics coach and cigar smoker Rick Pitino said that Auerbach never had much use for expensive cigars: “He would always smoke the cheapest, foulest-smelling cigars you could buy. I swear, he’d never spend more than three bucks for one.”

For more on Auerbach’s accomplishments, see this timeline of his remarkable life. Also, you can read what fellow Celtics and other NBA legends had to say about his passing in this article.

Patrick S


Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XVI

27 Oct 2006

In our ongoing effort to make as entertaining and reader-friendly as possible, each Friday we’ll post a sampler of quick cigar news and stogie-related snippets to tide you over for the weekend. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

1) We want to point out a generous offer made in the comments section of Tuesday’s review of the Alonso Menendez Robusto. Paul Arneson, the Mid-Atlantic rep for Brazil Cigars, is offering readers a free Alonso Menendez! As long as you live in the Mid-Atlantic region (DC, MD, VA, DE, PA, or WV), you can email Paul for a free stick. What’s the catch? Paul simply asks that, if you like it, please ask your local cigar shop to carry the line. Sounds reasonable to us! Click here for details and Paul’s email address.

2) In yesterday’s news item about the surprising and sad support that Americans have for federal tobacco prohibition, we noted that such a policy would “force smoking into ‘tobacco speakeasies’ and the criminal underworld, like alcohol during prohibition.” In a column today, Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the group that sponsored the survey, fleshes out what such a prohibition would look like. It isn’t pretty:

Big tobacco wouldn’t disappear; it would just change hands and go underground, discarding its high priced lobbyists in favor of people more skilled in violence and intimidation… “Tobacco-related murders” would increase dramatically as criminal organizations competed with one another for turf and markets, and ordinary crime would skyrocket as millions of tobacco junkies sought ways to feed their costly addiction. Smoking would become an act of youthful rebellion… And just imagine the government’s “war on tobacco”

3) Many people forget that, when it comes to producing top-grade cigar wrappers, US-grown Connecticut Shade tobacco (grown in the Connecticut River Valley) can go toe-to-toe with anything from the great cigar producing countries of Latin America. In this Hartford Courant story, we meet the Brown Family, owners of a 500-acre farm who are struggling to produce tobacco when many other families have sold their farms to developers.

4) Finally, we get word from Cigar Aficionado that Padron is preparing a special line for its 80th Anniversary that includes a six and ¾ inches by 54 ring gauge perfecto, the first Padron perfecto ever. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until next year. But, if you’re particularly impatient, you can get your Padron fix from a new eight cigar sampler that includes selections from the 1964 Anniversary and Series 1926 Padron lines. It’s shipping to stores this Month.

The Stogie Guys


Stogie News: Nearly Half of Americans Support Tobacco Prohibition

26 Oct 2006

A survey to be released today finds that nearly half of Americans would support a complete federal prohibition on cigarettes. The poll, conducted by Zogby International and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, sampled 1,200 Americans.

According to the survey, 45 percent said “they would support federal legislation making cigarettes illegal in five to ten years.” According to Zogby’s website, such a sample size would generate a margin of error less than +/- 3 percent.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of DPA, issued the following statement about the survey’s shocking results:

The number of Americans who support criminalizing cigarette smokers is shocking. The question is not if cigarette smoking is dangerous and leads to premature death – as surely, it is and does. The question is how to best address cigarette smoking as a public health problem. Based on history and current policies, we know that prohibition often leads to devastating consequences.

The full Zogby poll will be available at following an 11:30 AM teleconference.

Stogie Guys Analysis

Traditionally, anti-tobacco activists have “justified” restrictions on smoking on the basis of protecting third parties from “second hand smoke,” even if that means misleading the public and exaggerating such harms. In one recent instance, a Minnesota anti-smoking group laughably claimed in a press release that “Just 30 seconds of exposure can make coronary artery function of nonsmokers indistinguishable from smokers.”

Yet this study shows that anti-smoking zealots may be dangerously close to having the public support for their real, though rarely publicly-stated, goal of complete tobacco prohibition. This goal is evident when smoking bans don’t even have exemptions for cigar bars and retailers.

Also, cigar smokers should take little solace in the fact that the survey only specifically mentions “cigarettes.” Because of the massive lobbying power of cigarette companies compared to cigar companies, there should be little doubt that any federal legislation banning cigarettes that could actually pass Congress would also include cigars and pipes, just as local and state level bans have.

Hopefully this study serves as a wake up call for cigar smokers to stand up with cigarette smokers for individual choice and personal responsibility. If not, anti-smoking Nazis could force smoking into “tobacco speakeasies” and the criminal underworld, like alcohol during prohibition.

Patrick S


Stogie Commentary: The Omaha Smoke Police

25 Oct 2006

Think cops have a little too much time on their hands in your neck of the woods? If so, chances are you haven’t heard about the utterly ridiculous policy Omaha officials are enacting to enforce their new anti-smoking ordinance.

In a draconian move that eerily harks back to Orwell’s 1984, the Nebraska city’s bureaucrats and police departments are actually urging citizens who witness smoking ban infractions to call 9-1-1 (that’s right, the emergency call system). The city, which banned all public smoking on October 2, apparently wants anyone caught lighting up to be immediately confronted by its gun-toting men in blue and slapped with a $100 fine for the first offense.

In case you’re wondering, it’s $200 for the second offense and $500 for the third. The fourth? Death by firing squad. (Well, that’s not necessarily true, but would you be surprised?)

The government-imposed, Nazi-backed ban also applies to bars that serve food and those that don’t have so-called “keno” licenses (which are – you guessed it – permits you have to pay the city for). So, in other words, if you bribe the government, you can keep their secret police out of your private bar.

Now, if you’re like me you’re probably asking yourself, “Is there really anything else for Omaha police to do? I mean, c’mon, it’s Nebraska.” If that were the case, the solution would not be to transform the populace into a bunch of whistle-blowing tattle-tales. The city should instead cut the police department’s budget and let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

A quick look at Omaha’s crime statistics, however, suggests there are plenty of serious offenses for its cops to deal with. The city’s overall crime index ranks well below the national average. In 2004 alone, there were 20 murders, 187 rapes, 824 armed robberies, and over 1,500 aggravated assaults – a lot of crime for a city with less than 400,000 citizens. Clearly, these offenses are a bit more serious than smoking tobacco.

I think columnist Joseph Farah hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “This kind of insanity, this kind of tyranny, this kind of misguided political correctness is going to be the death of our great country if we’re not careful.” Amen to that.

While I never had the urge to visit Omaha before (after all, they ship their steaks by mail), I certainly don’t have one now. But you have to wonder: Given the speed and ferocity with which anti-smoking zealots’ bans are sweeping the nation, is a fellow citizen calling the cops on you for smoking in your hometown really so inconceivable?

Patrick A


Stogie Reviews: Alonso Menendez Robusto

24 Oct 2006

The Alonso Menendez is not your average cigar. It is a Brazilian puro made from the highly aromatic Mata Fina tobacco (unlike the Honduran-made CAO Brazilia, which employs a Brazilian wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler).

While Stogie Guys readers may be familiar with Alonso Menendez, it is unlikely many American cigar smokers have heard of the cigar, which is from a lesser-known line by the Menendez Amerino Company that also makes the still relatively unknown Dona Flor line. The cigars are top sellers in Brazil, but are only now making their way into the American market.

This thick robusto (five inches by 52 ring gauge) has a dark brown wrapper that is considerably looser than most premium cigars. But the attention to detail in the construction – such as the Cuban-style triple cap – suggests this characteristic is not a oversight, but a conscious choice.

Pre-light this cigar gives off a rich aroma with sweet chocolate notes. It lights easily and the smooth, easy draw becomes immediately apparent. The smoke is not at all hot or harsh despite the quick burn. Coffee and milk chocolate notes abound, but as the cigar progresses a slight peppery spice develops. Hints of clove were noticed when smoked through the nose.

The stogie is very balanced on the palate and falls somewhere between a medium and full bodied cigar. It has a sturdy white ash, although the burn was bit uneven – a problem that developed in multiple cigars. Thankfully, this flaw was never a problem that interfered with the cigar’s complex, rich flavors.

Overall, this robusto had a strong showing. It won’t be everyone’s favorite, but it is well worth trying to see if a Brazilian puro is just what you’ve been looking for…That is, if you can find it! (You may have to ask your local store to help you locate the cigar.)

Rich balanced tastes and a unique flavor profile earn the Alonso Menendez Robusto an impressive four out of five stogies.

Note: The cigar pictured has a classic white band. We like the look, but we’ve been told that it will be changing. You may find this cigar as “Alonso Menendez by Dona Flor” with a gold Dona Flor band. Fortunately, the cigar itself will remain the same.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S


Stogie Commentary: Strike Three

23 Oct 2006

[Editor’s note: We’re excited to announce that George Edmonson, winner of our Cigar Artisans 2006 reader contest, has permanently joined the team as our Tampa Bureau Chief.]

While traveling recently, I visited Churchill Cigars, a warm, friendly neighborhood shop in Virginia Beach. Lucky for me, there was a Punch event underway. In addition to the fine Punch Double Maduro I was given, I received a package of three little cigars and notes put together by General Cigar to help smokers enhance their palates and tobacco knowledge.

Each little “fuma” was made entirely from one of three grades of long filler tobacco: ligero, seco, or volado. I wanted to be able to pay attention while I smoked these little sticks, so I waited a while before smoking them. Here’s what I found:

The Punch rep said I should smoke this one first. The notes describe it as having excellent burning qualities and being lighter in texture, color, and strength than the others. I found it initially to have a light, toasty tobacco taste with almost no finish or aroma. After a few puffs it developed what I think of as the metallic taste I often find in lower end cigars.

This tobacco was described as medium in strength and, like ligero, aged at least three years. It had a nice aroma and a longer finish than the volado. The taste was somewhat earthy and it burned very slowly.

The notes said ligero is always rolled in the middle of the cigar because it burns slowly. My stick barely burned at all. But when it was lit, it produced by far the most smoke of the three. The taste was thick and heavy, with the longest finish of the trio.

After puffing on all three, I couldn’t help but marvel at how incredibly difficult it must be to successfully blend tobaccos – and to do it consistently with thousands, even millions, of cigars. The top blenders and rollers truly are artisans.

I highly recommend you stop by when one of the Punch Ambassadors visits a shop in your area. And let me know what you think about the three little sticks.

George E