What’s smoking…May 2009
Written by Gary J. Arzt

Friday, 29 May 2009

User Rating: / 1

leisure and relaxation


David P. Ehrlich, Boston, MA (40 North Street, Boston, MA 02109 – 617.227.1730) has been in business since 1868, and in the hands of only two (2) families since it’s founding.


A true, dyed in the wool tobacconist, they have great cigars, fine cigarettes as well as selection of excellent pipes. They will, of course, blend smoking tobacco to your taste.


Although thy have been around for more than a century, the store has been modernized and brought up to date. The seating areas are plentiful, luxurious and allow for discreet conversation.


While they don’t have a web site, they have, in a concession to the times and the necessity of cigar smokers, put in a very nice bar and lounge that gets a big crowd for football games and other sporting events.


L. J. Perretti, Boston, MA (2-1/2 Park Square, Boston, MA 02116 – 800.797.9557) was founded in 1870 and has been run by Robert A. Peretti since he returned from WWII in the early 1940s.


Originally a pipe and tobacco shop with cigarettes – mostly foreign specialty cigarettes like State Express, they have a selection of only the finest cigars: Padron, La Flor Dominicana, etc.


Over the years, customers have included Walter Matthau, Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone (famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes), Edward G. Robinson (a pipe and cigar smoker) as well as the, then, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Ramsay Macdonald. And, yes, they do have customers that are still alive!


While the shop is too small to accommodate a lounge area, it is welcoming and accommodating and very friendly.

When you stop in, ask for Steve and tell him I sent you. He won’t ask you to leave.


Mauricio Hanono, the grandfather…oops…”Godfather” of Miami tobacconists celebrated his 70th birthday on Sunday, 12  April, at a surprise party organized by his sons Selim and Julio.


Selim, an executive at Drew Estate, had a contingent with him that included Jonathan Drew, sans ponytail, Steve Saka and Marvin Samel.


Jorge Valdez, proprietor of four (4) Sabor Havana shops in Miami and Palm Beach was still angry with me for saying he was a nice guy in last month’s column. He claims I “…destroyed (his) reputation!”


The party included family, friends and customers (who are, in reality, friends of Mauricio’s) of Mauricio’s Absolute Cigars (22 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33130 – 305.374.9999).


Noticeably absent was H.E. Luis Felipe Mendonça, the Brazilian Ambassador to El Salvador and Joe Baz, presently Miami’s emissary to San Francisco.


A few months ago, I smoked Avalon cigars and wrote about it in this column.

Recently, I had the opportunity to smoke them again – they aren’t widely distributed. What I discovered was a changed cigar, and not changed for the better.


I determined to call Tyler Avery, of Avalon, to discuss it with him. I put in three (3) calls to Tyler, to no avail. He never returned my calls. Perhaps he was running the war in Iraq, o r working on one (1) of the Stimulus packages! He did find time, however; during that same period, to e-mail me asking for some information. Information I supplied, promptly, in a return e-mail. My friend, Jose Trujillo, tells me I should stop expecting good manners and civility from people.


So, I was on my own. But, not being without resources, I did a little investigating and found that the original Avalon’s were made by El Titan de Bronze, a small cigar factory in Miami’s Little Havana, that makes some very fine cigars – their Redemption series, for instance.


For some reason – mostly probably to save a nickel a stick - Avalon moved production to another Miami factory – no need to mention their name – that is not producing a cigar that equals the El Titan de Bronze version.


It’s really too bad, because these are very difficult times for an unknown brand, and diminishing the caliber of the cigar is not the way to gain a position in the market.


Relative to my conversation about cigar makers that could evaporate in the next twelve (12) months…it won’t be without good reason. You might translate it into be victims of the economy; but, rather, there are solid reasons why they could not survive the downturn.


If you have not achieved any real presence in the market thus far, it is unlikely that you can now.

Nonetheless, I’ve reassessed the idea of publishing a list. I have no desire to hurt people who have invested their time, energy and money in a product. At the same time, I am aware that some would suggest I am being nasty or unkind.


Understand that if it were published in The Wall Street Journal, it would be a simple piece of business analysis. But, from me it might be deemed purposefully offensive!


So, I have sent the list in a Registered envelope to my friend with whom I had the discussion, and advised him to open it 31 March 2010. We’ll see how accurate I am, and as the companies will be out of business, I won’t hesitate to publish the list then. I suppose then it will be seen as braggadocio on my part.


The creator of “The Black Band Project,” a piece of guerilla marketing that took four (4) e-mailed video episodes, and as many weeks, to reveal that Camacho was behind it, must have felt very proud of his creation!


Since it began without identifying the affiliation, although it did use the same server as Social Cigar; and the lead gangster bore a passing resemblance to Christian Eiroa, the characters were able to use language that most people would rather not use, or hear, in polite company. To what end…who knows!


Now, “in a few weeks,” I, and everyone else that was curious about this marketing effort, will receive a Camacho Legendario and perhaps another stellar cigar creation. The thing is…I already have a bad taste in my mouth from “The Black Band Project!”


0 # PUROS FINE CIGARS 2 Year AnniversaryThe Dark Knight 2009-05-31 05:38
Just thought it was worth mentioning that Alejandro Alcorta owner of Puros Fine Cigars (10792 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33165 – - 305.222.2217) celebrated his 2nd Anniversary this past weekend. Looking forward to many more great years of cigar smoking at PUROS!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!

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