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

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

User Rating: / 1

leisure and relaxation

Shame on me! I wrote about three (3) of the oldest tobacconists in America and neglected to mention one that I have enjoyed all my adult life: Demuth’s in Lancaster, PA (114 East King Street – 717.397.6613 – I first visited Demuth in 1964 when visiting a friend in nearby Neffsville, PA.

Founded in 1770…yes, six years before our Republic was founded! Talk about staying power!

It remained in the family’s hands for five generations, until Dorothea Demuth, wife of Christopher, who died in 1976, inherited the shop. She continued to run it, but in 1986 – to assure its continued existence, she sold it to the Demuth Foundation.

Like any shop with such a pedigree, it has catered to its share of celebrities, not limited to, but including President James Buchanan.

Cigars, pipes, accessories all purveyed to a very satisfied clientele for two hundred and thirty-nine (239) years now! What a ride.

A promise by Pete Johnson (Tatuaje, La Riqueza), to Tim Carr, Manager of Famous Smoke Shop (1100 Conroy Place, Easton, PA 18040 – 800.564.2486 –, to attend Famous’ Cigar Expo in June has, apparently been reneged on by Pete. This has now led to a challenge to a boxing match! I’d have to think there is more behind this than just a ‘change of plans’ by Pete.

Be that as it may, it has garnered a great deal of attention, and, if it is at all possible, and my schedule allows it – I’ll be heading for Easton, PA to attend the Expo and witness the fisticuffs. Of course, I’m not going to make any promise about this to Tim, least I be faced with the prospect of having to step into the ring with him!

Stogie’s (London Square), in a part of Miami, Fl (1305 S.W. 137th Avenue, Miami, FL 33186 – 305.233.8585) that is like a foreign country to me – but, then, what part of Miami isn’t a foreign country, was opened not so long ago by my friend, Mario Sirulnik, founder/owner of Stogie’s in Kendall, FL (11612 S.W. 88th Street, Miami, FL 33176 – 305.598.9820 –

I visited the new store, finally, having missed the Grand Opening out of sheer laziness, with my friend Jim Pendergast a couple of weeks ago. Mario was there and we settled into the lounge for a conversation, a good cigar and some great cortadito (coffee with sweet - condensed – milk, a Cuban confection). Conversation with Mario is always interesting and stimulating. Like me, you are never in doubt of where Mario is ‘coming from.’

The store is bright and airy with a nicely laid out and well appointed lounge in the rear. Mario was quick to inform me that he had just succeeded in obtaining his full liquor license – no easy task in Miami-Dade County. Hell, a beer and wine license can be difficult enough. Just ask Alejandro Alcorta of Puros Fine Cigars!

Mario also pointed out some of his plans for additions to the lounge area, while talking humidification and smoke extraction with Jim. This is the area of Jim’s expertise – he is, perhaps, the foremost expert on the subject, and has done design and/or systems installation at tobacconists across the globe.

Like Stogie’s in Kendall. The shop has a complete and impressive inventory. And still, he’ll have those odd balls that will walk through the shop; look at 600+ open boxes on the shelves – and leave without buying a stick! Every tobacconist experiences it; but, I seem to be the only person it baffles and annoys!

Henry “Kiki” Berger, perhaps, better known now for his Cuban Crafters humidors and cutters, etc, is one of the finest tobacco growers and cigar makers in Nicaragua. He makes cigars for his own company and a plethora of brands for others. Not only that, but Kiki, who had problems with his kidneys, and was given one by his wife; has built a dialysis clinic in Nicaragua, because he’s a very decent man who understands one has to ‘give back to the community.’

The other day, I spent about five (5) hours at his huge emporium (3604 N.W. 7th Street, Miami, FL 33125 – 305.573.0222 – chatting with Kiki, his Vice President, Albert Nogara and a few of his other associates.

I also had the pleasure smoking one, no; make that several of his fuller bodied J. L. Salazar cigars. I enjoyed it tremendously and was extremely grateful for the box Alberto gave me when I departed at 11:15 PM after a couple of hours in the lounge drinking a terrific Malbec! Thank you Kiki, Albert and José.

Every now and then, a bizarre piece of advertising copy pique’s my curiosity. Explain this to me “CEO of cigars.”

Who is Don Gonzalez, and what does “From our family to yours,” mean? Who is his family? Has he concocted a history of four (4) or five (5) generations of tobacco growing, vega owning in Cuba, to support his mediocre cigar?

He is the founder and CEO of Benchmade Knife Company, and Roberta the loving wife, business associate and power behind the throne! It was a wonderful sojourn in that it was totally relaxing – this from a guy, me, who pretty much does little more than relax. But…I was doing it somewhere else.

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