What's Smokin: June 2009
Written by Gary J. Arzt

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

User Rating: / 1

leisure and relaxation

I say, “Friday afternoon” because that is when we arrived at Ambassador Fine Cigars (4912 East Shea Boulevard, #108, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 – 408.905.100 –, but it was not until about 9:30 PM when we finally departed – determined to make a return visit on Saturday.

With a lounge area in front, for all their clients, and a private, membership club in the back…separated by a substantial walk-in humidor, displays of lighters, cases, humidors, cutters and various other accessories – plus, the finest selection of pipes I have seen anywhere in decades; Ambassador Fine Cigars reminded me of London.

All that, and the fact that proprietor, Vartan Seferian and his associate, Dell Cohen were both dressed in suit and tie!

Vartan, clearly of the ‘old school’ is part of that extensive coterie of Armenians that have infused the cigar industry with elegance and culture. Think Avo Uvezian, Edward Sahakian (Davidoff London), Raffik Aboulian (Raffi’s in Geneva, Switzerland), Gerard, père et fils, (Geneva, Switzerland), Anto Kamarian (Cigars by Chivas, Pasadena, CA), Dr. Garo Bouldoukian, whose Garo cigars are found in California and Europe. He’s too busy with his medical practice to really devote himself to commerce!

We greeted each other, I introduced Les and Vartan and I entered the humidor, where I quickly picked up a My Father toro. At that point, Vartan said, “I want you to try something.” And showed me a box of Vartan cigars…there were natural boxes and dark boxes. I made the correct assumption that the box colour related to the wrapper, and selected a Vartan “Zoravar” Belicoso.

Yes, this was Ambassador’s ‘house blend.’ The only similarity it bears to other tobacconists’ ‘house blends’ or ‘house brands’ is the nomenclature. In most instances, such cigars are acquired for buck and sold for five bucks! Not so here. I don’t know what Vartan pays for them, but at $17.00 this was no stick from an old Cuban roller on ‘Calle Ocho.’ I was later informed, after I raved about the rich, complex, full bodied smoke, that Vartan had blended this with the über blender and cigar maker, Hendrik “Henke” Kelner!

The cigar I chose had filler that included three (3) Dominican ligero leaves with an Ecuador sun grown binder and an Ecuador wrapper, and a Nicaraguan grown Cuban seed Corojo.

By way of explanation about the “Zoravar” under label, Vartan Zoravar was an Armenian military commander, and hero. “The strong man,” as he was known protected Christian Armenia from the Zoroastrians, and he and his men were later canonized.

So much for history…back to the joy of cigars and Ambassador Fine cigars. The private club, The Embassy Club, is equipped with lockers, a few poker tables, and comfortable chairs, plenty of ashtrays and the requisite flat screens as well as a kitchen that members avail themselves of, as if in their own homes.

The table games of poker and pitch take place in private, away from the eyes and ears of other customers, unlike some shops I know that think everybody should be exposed to these activities. As a matter of fact, there is a regular Friday evening game that takes place at 7:00 PM – after Vartan has locked the front door!

Vartan played, but being an educated, astute gent, he kept up a conversation with Les and me…ably multi-tasking to keep everyone happy and involved.

The clientele we met were, like all fine cigar aficionados, of diverse backgrounds, occupations and professions. The one thing they had in common was good conversation, interesting lives and a pleasant, convivial manner.

Les and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and when we left at 9:30 PM, we were determined to return Saturday; which we did for a couple of hours. Les has been back several times since I left Scottsdale!

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