Written by Gary J. Arzt

Tuesday, 07 October 2008

User Rating: / 1

industry updates

Janny Garcia Perez and her husband, Amilcar Perez, welcomed their third child, and third son, on 4 September. The baby, Jacob, joins his older brothers Joseph and Joshua. When the baby was brought home, he was seen reaching for one of grandfather Pepin Garcia's excellent cigars. A future tabaquero in the making, to continue the tradition of Don Pepin and his uncle, Jaime Garcia. Congratulations to Maria and Pepin Garcia, Janny and Amilcar and the whole Garcia family.

Speaking of Pepin Garcia and a new baby, I hear that Pepin and Nestor Miranda, of Miami Cigar & Company, are collaborating on something really special. Well, I'll go a step further, since I've smoked it, and tell you it is something really special!

Look for the announcements and check with your tobacconist later this month. Enough said.

Wherever I go, I have my tobacconists that I have preferred for many years, and I invariably spend time at them during my visit to the cities they're in. They vary in size and amenities, but the one thing they all have in common are superb selections of the finest cigars and proprietors with personalities that make each visit interesting.

Here are a bunch of my favorites. If you're ever in these cities, try and stop in to these shops:

New York City:
Davidoff/Madison Avenue (535 Madison Avenue, NYC 10022 - 212.751.9060 - was the first Davidoff in America. I started to visit it while I was living in Hong Kong. It's right around the corner from the hotel I would stay at - The St. Regis - and is a comfortable shop. George Brightman managed it at the time; then David Kitchens, and now Michael Herklots. All different personalities, but all knowledgeable cigar aficionados and gracious hosts. I've had several lunches, up in "The Nook" with George, David and my friend Nestor Miranda, who is always stopping in when he's in NYC.

De La Concha (1390 Avenue of the Americas, NYC 10019 - 212.757.3167 - is now managed by Ron Melendi, Lionel's son, and is, in fact, now owned by Davidoff. So, don't expect much from the web site. In this regard, it would appear, the Swiss have no imagination! But ... you can expect a hell of a lot from the store. If you're looking for the finest in cigars, accessories or service! And there are several comfortable chairs, a relaxing ambiance, and always interesting people - other customers - to talk with. I thoroughly enjoy my visits here.

De La Concha, New York City De La Concha, New York City
De La Concha, New York City

Cigar Inn (1314 First Avenue, NYC 10021 - 212.717.7403 - My good friend Nestor Miranda of Miami Cigar & Company (Don Lino, Africa, Nestor Miranda Signature Selection) recommended this place to me, and while they don't have much seating capacity inside, they have plenty of tables and chairs outside. Forget it when it snows or rains, though! They have a great selection of cigars and accessories and, I particularly appreciate the George Trumper shaving creams, etc. I've been using them since I lived in London, where I used to go for their tonsorial services. Until a few places, like Barney's New York and Cigar Inn started carrying them, I had to send to London.

Cigar Inn, New York City Cigar Inn, New York City
Cigar Inn, New York City

Philadelphia, PA:
Holt's (1522 Walnut St., Philadelphia 19102 - 215.732.8500 -, now managed by David Kitchens, who for many years ran Davidoff on Madison Avenue, is a beautiful and inviting shop in the heart of Philadelphia. Since I always stay at The Rittenhouse, and like to lunch at the Sansome Oyster House, this is the place for me. Holt's, as if everyone didn't know, is part of the Ashton family and I well remember the original shop. What a difference!

Washington, DC:
David Berkebile's Georgetown Tobacco (3144 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007 - 202.338.5100 - has been around for decades, and then some, I think. Well, since 1964 certainly. The shop, in the heart of Georgetown is a first class, old fashioned tobacconist. In terms of décor its Jet Blue compared to Emirates Airlines, but for selection and attention to the client's needs it is first cabin all the way. I've been going there so long, I remember when Paul Gamarian was working there, before he published his book on cigars; before he was marketing his PG brand. In fact, Georgetown was the first place to carry PG cigars.

Chicago, IL:

Jack Schwartz Importers (141 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604 - 312.782.7898 -

Up Down Cigar (1550 N. Wells St. Chicago, IL 60610 - 312.337.8025 -

Las Vegas, NV:

Casa Fuente at the Forum Shops at Caesar (3500 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas 89109 -702.731.5051). A beautifully appointed and comfortable lounge replete with a wide selection of Opus X, Fuente, Ashton and other fine cigars. Whenever you're in there, you'll meet people you know from all over the country, if not the world. It is the focal point in Las Vegas for serious cigar lovers.

Casa Fuente, Las Vegas NV Casa Fuente, Las Vegas NV
Casa Fuente, Las Vegas NV

There are a couple of very nice Davidoff shops in Vegas as well as several stores owned by the Frey Brothers (partners with Ashton and Fuente in Casa Fuente). By and large most of them are of the 'buy your cigar and go about your business' type of shops.' But, with the change in Las Vegas smoking laws, we'll have to see if they go the tobacconist with cigar lounge route, albeit, some of them are limited in space.

Pasadena, CA:
Cigars by Chivas (50 S. Delancey Street, Suite 211, Pasadena, CA 91105 - 626.395.7475 - is a superb shop run by another of the many Armenians that have gravitated to the cigar business, Anto Kamarian (Think Avo Uvezian, Paul Gamarian, Edward Sahakian - Davidoff, London, Raffi Aboulian in Switzerland, as well as Gerard Pere et Fils in Switzerland).

When last I stopped here, Anto was heavily engaged in fighting the city fathers about more draconian anti-smoking legislation. I think they met their match in Anto, who is not only a charming host, former attorney and dedicated cigar smoker, but a man of the highest principle who is fighting to protect the rights of his clientele, as much as he is fighting to protect a business he entered out of love!

A comfortable, elegant store that offers the finest in cigars, accessories and hospitality, in an elegant town that, while largely a bedroom community for people that work in Los Angeles, has a distinct character and personality of its own: a little old world, a lot of charm and totally civilized. One visit to Cigars by Chivas and you'll return as often as you are in Pasadena.

Kansas City, MO:
The Outlaw (6234 N. Chatham Avenue, Kansa City, MO 64151 - 816.505.2442 - is a truly unique, free standing store, as large as any you've seen, with the exception of JR's behemoths in New Jersey and North Carolina.
The Outlaw Cigar Company, Kansas City MO

These guys know how to stage cigar events, and have a calendar that lists them by the year (see their web site). They've had 'em all, from Litto Gomez, Rocky Patel, Pepin Garcia among the luminaries of the industry. Attending an event at The Outlaw, one shouldn't be surprised to see 600 people, an enormous posse of motorcyclists, an Abrams tank or an Apache helicopter! No, we they don't have their own army ... but they do have an army of satisfied clients!

If you're the type that likes to go to events, and wants to see a fabulous tobacconist, take a trip to Kansas City.

The store is welcoming, stocked to the gills with fine cigars and accessories, very accommodating and provides superb service from Bulldog Culbertson and his gang!

One thing I have observed over the past two (2) years; Espinosa y Ortega's 601 have been selling like hot cakes at most, if not all, these emporiums. Now, that highly successful creation of Don Pepin has been joined by Cubao. If the ordering of Cubao at the IPCPR in July was any indication ... we're going to be seeing that brand all over the country as well.

Speaking of "the country," 601 have made its first foray abroad, with the successful introduction of the cigar in Germany.

I was hoping to get up to Pensacola for Cordova Cigar's (6050 North 9th Avenue, Pensacola, FL 32504 - 850.473.0080 - La Flor Dominicana event, with an appearance by Litto Gomez. Regrettably, I have some business to attend to in Miami the same day. For those of you in ‘LA' (Lower Alabama) try and make it; the cigars are superb and Litto is an extremely engaging chap. That and the regular's at Robbie Morton's very inviting cigar emporium will make for a great evening. Throw in Jerry Mistretta's excellent Cajun cuisine and you're in for one hell of a time.

"If the birth of a genius resembles that of an idiot, the end of a Havana Corona resembles that of a 5-cent cigar" - Sacha Guitry, writer, actor, director, screenplay writer (1885 -1957)


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