OUT OF LEFT FIELD – BIG SMOKE 2017

On my recent trip to Vegas  (Nov. 18 2017) I was asked “Hey, so why do they call you Lefty?  Is it because you are never right?”…Somebody wake up the drummer, two shows nightly, and tip your servers.  I didn’t leave Vegas with a photo roll like on the camera in The Hangover, but I did have a great time there again.
So why was I in Vegas?  The Big Smoke 2017 at the Mirage, which is basically an excuse for a bunch of guys from all across the country to smoke a bunch of cigars in Vegas.  What a great combo!  I have been incredibly fortunate to be involved at this yearly event due to the graciousness of the Arturo Fuente family and team there to display our Fuente cigar artwork by Noah Fine Art.  The Fuente family truly personifies class, passion, and family, and to be a part of this family is a great honor helping raise awareness and support for The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.
So what is the Big Smoke?  This event is put on by Cigar Aficionado magazine and is far more than just an excuse to smoke the finest cigars.  It is a ticketed event open to the public which takes place in two sessions:  3 hours on a Friday night and then 3 hours again on Saturday.  A VIP ticket is also available for purchase to allow access one hour early for each session.  There are many other opportunities, such as seminars on various topics throughout the day and special events to hear from some of the leaders in the cigar industry.
To give a mental picture of what actually happens there, ticketed guests are provided a coupon book, and when the doors open enter the Mirage special events center like a herd of cattle in a stampede racing to their favorite cigar booth to get whatever product is being passed out.  Many of the large cigar manufacturers are present, including Fuente, JC Newman, Padron, and Oliva, as well as Tatuaje, Alec Bradley, LFD, and many others.  Cigar Rights of America also has booth there to discuss all the fine work they are doing. Its just a great time to not just enjoy premium cigars but also to meet prominent members of the cigar companies and discuss cigars with them.  Certainly special thanks to the Oban, Lagavoulin and Tin Cup, among others, for sharing their fantastic whiskies as well.
I also want to mention my great experiences at certain local cigar lounges.  On the previous Thursday evening Tatuaje put on a great event at En Fuego cigar lounge in Henderson, and offered some terrific cigars  including their Cojonu maduros.  The Cigar Box is also one of my favorite stops.  Its a great spot to enjoy a latte, beer or wine, and cruise their very comprehensive humidor.  The layout and brick industrial decor creates a great environment.  Another lounge I have been frequenting lately is the Havana cigar lounge on Flamingo, which features a darker intimate feel with a prominent TV screen great for games and movies, as well as classic cigar artwork such as Al Pacino from Scarface.  And of course, Casa Fuente is the main place to hang, smoke Fuentes, and drink the best mojitos in Vegas.
All in all I had a great trip, trying to learn as much as I can to help bring the best possible cigars to our Chamber.  I love using the reason of “research” to experience as many premium cigars as I can, so we can all continue to enjoy the great camaraderie together at our special Chamber at 9900.
Lefty

THE PREMIUM CIGAR EXPERIENCE – ONE OF LIFE’S GREAT PLEASURES

The experience of smoking a premium cigar is one of life’s great pleasures.  Premium cigar makers take incredible pride in their craft, with even some manufactures being family owned and operated for over 100 years.  Premium cigars are primarily created from tobacco grown in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Africa, Indonesia and the United States in most notably Connecticut.  Many different types of tobacco seeds and techniques are used to grow cigars of varying flavor, strength, sizes, and color.  Like fine food, wine and spirits, cigars provide for unique taste experiences which can vary from salty, sweet, harsh, smooth, heavy, light, and spicy, just to name a few characteristics.  The experience can stimulate senses, allow for restoration and relaxation, and provide settings for bringing close friends together to share life’s reflections.

For beginning cigar fans, a few important questions can help at the outset:

  • How much time do you have to enjoy a cigar?
  • Do you prefer stronger or lighter tobacco strength (for most newcomers lighter is better)
  • Do you prefer the feel of a thicker or thinner cigar?
  • Do you prefer a straight cut or a V cut or a punch?
  • Are you going to be enjoying your favorite alcoholic drink with it?

The size of the cigar will determine how long it takes to smoke, along with your natural smoking technique.  Cigars are designed to burn slowly, thus keeping the temperature down and allowing the tobacco not to be charred or get too hot.  Drawing the cigar too frequently will cause the cigar tobacco to burn to hot, and most likely cause uneven burns.

Sizes of cigars are measured in RING GAUGE: a number typically between 40 and 64 which represents 64th of an inch.  For example, a cigar with a 52 ring gauge is 52/64th of an inch thick: (52 ring gauge being thicker than 42)  It’s length is measured in inches.  A 7 x 50 cigar is 7 inches long with a 50 ring gauge, and typically takes an hour to 1 hour 15 minutes to smoke.

If smoking a premium cigar alongside your favorite alcoholic beverage, i.e. single malt whisky, then a general rule of thumb is match a lighter flavor or bodied cigar with a lighter whisky, and a heavier denser cigar with a heavier stronger whisky.

There are three most common types of cuts (cutting the head of the cigar with a blade to allow air to flow)

    •       Straight Cut – which allows for the most air to flow through the cigar
    •       V Cut – A technique that uses a blade that puts a Cat’s Eye incision into the cigar, and allows the cigar to burn cooler while getting ample air
    •       Punch Cut – Which puts a small circular incision into the first centimeter of the cigar.

Try all 3 of them and determine which one works best for you.

There are many different sizes of cigars, but some basic options would include:

    • Churchill – approximately 7 x 50
    • Toro – approximately 6 x 50
    • Robusto – approximately 5 x 50
    • Petite Corona – approximately 5 x 42

After you choose your cigar, you can then keep track of your experience by giving it a rating.  Did the cigar burn well?  Did it go out?  Did it burn evenly?  Was it smooth or harsh?  Was it too spicy or too bland?  Was it too short or too long?  etc.

Rating Guide:  Rank from 1 – 20 on 5 categories:

    • Appearance – Feel
    • Burn Characteristic
    • Flavor
    • Strength
    • And most importantly: Did you enjoy it?

A cigar with your own personal rating of a total of 95 – 100 would be considered a Classic.  90 – 94 is Outstanding.  80 – 89 would be very good.  60 and lower would be:  Let’s try a different one next time.

Keep enjoying cigars: don’t let one bad experience deter you.  Try different brands.  Try different sizes and cuts.  Try different wrapper colors (darker to lighter).  Try cigars from different countries, etc.  Try them with different pairings of single malt and bourbon.  Have a great time!

Come on out to The Chamber at 9900 to experiment and learn along with us.  Join us on Instagram at thechamberat9900 and report which are your favorite cigars.  We great appreciate your partnership, as we are all lucky to enjoy premium cigars:  celebrating making new friendships and treasuring old ones.  See you at The Chamber!

-Lefty

The Chamber at 9900 – Honoring the Fuente Family

At The Chamber at 9900, we have embarked on a very exciting journey.  Thank you so much for your partnership with us.  We wanted to take a moment at the outset to sincerely thank a most gracious and beautiful family in the cigar industry:  The Arturo Fuente Cigar Family.  We have been most fortunate to have shared in a great relationship for many years, and we seek to use our efforts at The Chamber to honor them and their incredible legacy.  The Fuente family and their entire team has been very gracious with us, and it is with utmost humility that we attempt to further their example of integrity,  compassion, and excellence in all endeavors in the Pacific Northwest.  To honor the Fuente and Newman families, we want to draw attention to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, www.cf-cf.org, which provides a significant humanitarian impact on the communities in the Dominican Republic, through health care, education, and nutrition, among other life changing aspects.  We invite you to partner with us, raising awareness and support for The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, and following the lead of the Fuente and Newman families of incredible compassion for the needy.  Consider partnering with us at www.cf-cf.org.

See you at The Chamber: Where You Belong.

Jason, Lou, Lefty, Chef Christian and the team