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Special Report: Big Fun at Big Smoke Chicago

12 Apr 2007

As much as I love cigars, it may surprise you to learn that I’ve never had the pleasure to actually attend a huge event like Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke. It seems like many of these events – which include free-flowing spirits, cigars, and food – pass up Washington for other, more suitable locales like Vegas, New York, and Chicago.

But I did come close once. As you may recall, back in September received complementary tickets to Cigar Artisans 2006 in Tampa. But other commitments prevented us from attending in person. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, because the winner of our ticket giveaway soon became our Tampa Bureau Chief.

On Tuesday, my DC obligations once again prevented me from attending another major cigar event – the famed Big Smoke in Chicago. Fortunately, was able to infiltrate the event by sending my dad, and veteran Big Smoke participant, Steve Ashby (pictured at right with Carlito Fuente).

OK, we didn’t actually send my dad. He was already scheduled to attend the event on “business.” We simply equipped him with a camera and a few good questions. What follows is his brief, yet insightful, report.

The Chicago Big Smoke was another great success. I find it so interesting watching grown men act like children on Christmas day when they have just found the perfect present under the tree.

Plenty of cigars for everyone and great camaraderie. Tommy Bahama rum, Pilsner Urquell, Johnny Walker, and several other libations were served and sampled.

To the cigar side, I discussed smoking beyond the band with numerous cigar company representatives and most indicated that if the smoke is good, remove the wrapper and have at it. Few said otherwise.

CAO surprisingly divulged that their best production cigar was the Brazilia (perhaps a shock for you Italia fans out there), and they were handing these out freely. In fact, unlike other cigar manufacturers who simply passed out bags of their products, CAO representatives kindly lit a Brazilia for me and told me to come back when I was finished.

Speaking of the Italia, Joe Gannascoli from The Sopranos was in attendance. You may remember his character, Vito Spatafore, who was killed off last season.

In all, a great time was had by all, and I can’t wait to attend my next Big Smoke.

After reading this report, I’ve reaffirmed my commitment to make it to my first major cigar event in 2007. In case you’re wondering, my dad and I currently have plans in the works to crash the Big Smoke in Las Vegas on November 10 at the Venetian. We hope to see you there.

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

6 Responses to “Special Report: Big Fun at Big Smoke Chicago”

  1. Mac and Nudo Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 4:24 am #

    Sounds like an awesome event. I imagine the $200 entry fee includes some take-home smokes as well?

  2. Patrick A Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 4:26 am #

    Mac: You bet. My dad reportedly brought home just shy of 40 premium cigars. If he has a chance later today, he'll leave a comment with more details.

  3. Padronnie Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 4:32 am #

    40 smokes huh? Maybe I'll also have to attend the Vegas Big Smoke. Sounds like a pretty good time

  4. Remy Martin Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 6:09 am #

    A terrific event and my first Big Smoke. Definitely not the last. I purchased a humidor at 1/3 price as the show was winding down and 'loaded' it with the prizes the next day. Now I just have to figure out how I hide the $200 entry fee from my boss in next week's expense report!

  5. Cigar Jack Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 9:51 am #

    I'm trying to work on getting myself to one of these events also, I'm hoping I can scrape enough together to make one late this year or next.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Special Report: Big Fun at Big Smoke Las Vegas - Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    […] may recall an April Special Report, courtesy of my dad, that gave a first-hand account of Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke in Chicago. […]