Last night we had the good fortune of having been invited on a dinner cruise hosted by our dear friend Mitchell Orchant of C.Gars Ltd. The cruise was around Manhattan for about 4 hours on the Marco Polo Cruises “Jewel”, which is a 120 foot long ship with a dining room and a covered deck above. There was a buffet of both Italian and Kosher cuisine that was delicious and plentiful. The attendees were a collection of customers, friends and business associates, all smoking non-stop for the duration of the event.
We began the day with my son and I visiting Shaving Grace in Exton, PA for some grooming. The shop has a big flat panel TV, leather couch, pool and poker tables and various paraphernalia, including cigars, cigar boxes and ashtrays (although smoking is not allowed). I have never had a professional shave and it was quite a treat to have the hot towels and all the various lotions and lather associated with it. It’s not something I’d do all the time, but it was a treat. I’m a little conflicted in that it’s kind of girly, in a very manly way.
Shortly after the manscaping trip, we hit the road to NYC. It typically takes over 2 hours to get from Southeast, PA to NYC so we allowed plenty of time for traffic and construction delays. We made the Holland Tunnel in 2 hours and found our way to the docks, then found our way to the correct docks! We were a good hour early but lucky for us Mitchell and his wife Karyn were aboard already with a few other early folks, including George whom we’d met with Mitchell in Vegas a few years ago. Already we knew people, woohoo!
The vessel eventually filled up and we got under way. I enjoyed a little Tabak Especial Colada Dulce while we were waiting. I was pretty much on an empty stomach and wanted something to smoke that wasn’t too challenging. It was pretty tasty for a flavored cigar. After we got going I lit up a Hoyo de Tradicion Toro which was also very nice. In these social situations I generally smoke cigars I don’t have to think about too much. A great cigar can distract me from a conversation and I don’t want to appear rude. We spent the evening catching up with old friends we hadn’t seen in a while and meeting new folks. I believe it was Oliva who provided the roller who was demonstrating his craft in the dining room, and all reports are that the cigars he was rolling were very good.
One of the gentlemen I had the good fortune of meeting was Marc Aub of Brother of the Leaf, LLC, maker of the Palio cutter and Esencia Cigars. Marc is an instantly likable fellow. We talked about the newsgroups and forums, blogs and podcasts, and the state of the industry. The discussion turned briefly to the IPCPR show and what place we bloggers have there. I have been to the show once with a retailers badge but with the understanding that the people exhibiting are there to sell their product to retailers. We made it a point to step back when talking to someone when they had real customers. Marc suggested that the IPCPR add a membership category for the media, to which my wife made the suggestion of charging an annual fee. I think this is a great idea, considering any schmoo can have a cigar blog (just look at me!) and get a press pass. Charging a membership fee makes people think twice and gives the experience some value.
Marc very generously put an Esencia Lancero in my mouth at one point which was just the perfect cigar to top off a great evening. From what he said, the lancero isn’t available other than from him or in a special sampler pack that was available on a limited basis. First, I love the size and feel of a lancero. It’s elegant, it requires a bit more time and patience to smoke. This one burned slow and even and was smooth and flavorful down to about 3/4″ when it gave up on me. It started out with a little zing which I liked. Marc confirmed what I suspected, that it was a Nicaraguan puro. I have only heard about these here and there, but all of the good things I’ve heard were confirmed with this very satisfying cigar. On a slightly embarrassing note, it occurred to me moments after I did it that I cut it with my favorite cheapie cutter and not a Palio. I don’t think Marc noticed (phew!) Unfortunately I didn’t take the time to snap a picture of the cigar, but it was a beauty.
After a terrific evening with a great bunch of folks, the boat docked and we said our thank-yous and farewells to our friends and hosts. We have been so fortunate to have made such good friends over the years, it’s a treat to be able to hang out with them for a while every so often. It was also fun to take my son along so that he could experience some of the kinds of events we’ve been attending while he was growing up. He had a great time as well and is moving along through his cigar education.
Until the next time,