Big Smoke Florida
The weekend of March 22 saw a few Cigar Studio customers travel to Hollywood, FLA for the Big Smoke. Put on by Cigar Aficionado, and hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 35 cigar vendors along with a variety of Food and Beverage sponsors put on a terrific evening of premium cigars, music, and hospitality. Huge props to the new venue, more room and a better venue. We all had a great time, and I got to hang out with cigar legends, Rocky Patel, Ernesto Perez Carillo, Jorge Padron, Hamlet Paredes, Alan Rubin and his two sons Alec and Bradley, Dean Parsons and others. Naturally our first stop was at Perdomo Cigars where we hung out with Nick and our pal and his #1, Nelson Cuba.
We have it booked for 2020.
St Patrick’s Day Party
March 17. Same time, same place. Every year for 23 years. Enjoy this years wall of fame.
The 21st Edition of the Habanos Festival ran February 18 – 22. While ostensibly a party to celebrate some of the worlds’ greatest cigars, there is a growing problem in Cuba right now. I visited almost every cigar shop in Havana, and there are ridiculous shortages of premium cigars in Cuba these days. No Edicion Limitad, Behike, Regional Edicions etc. Nothing. This is impacting tourism and overall attendance at the Festival – the later was down huge. Add in the higher prices for regular cigars, hotels, Festival tickets and restaurants combined with diminishing quality for same, I wonder if it might indicate bubble about to burst?
But let focus on the positive. I always enjoy myself, especially all the fellowship and camaraderie of my fellow tobacconists. One of my favorite nights is put on by our pals at Havana House where Betty, Jose and Roger out did themselves this year. A wonderful evening.
And for anyone going to Havana who wants to enjoy a night at THE BEST NEW CUBAN RESATURANT, make sure you get to El Cocinero. An old molasses factory, the 2 floor restaurant is adjoined with a bar/art gallery. I have been there half dozen times and it continues (in my opinion) to set the standard of what awesome Cuban food, beverage and entertainment can be. Reservations a must and if you want to get into the gallery before dinner, make sure you book those tickets in advance.
Christmas in January
The core of the Cigar Studio community got together for some appreciative post Christmas F & B & Cigars on January 22. Gifts bags were handed around while we enjoyed a feast from Antonio and his Team. Then it was just down the street to enjoy the new Cigar Studio House blend and a Punch Punch in Hans basement paradise. Just a perfect work around to say thanks to our best of the best.
Smoke Free Ontario
Government interference into the private activities of ordinary Ontarians ramped up significantly on January 1, 2015 when new regulations to the Smoke Free Ontario kicked in. These changes dramatically altered the way tobacco is sold and enjoyed in Ontario. The biggest impact was the smoking ban on all patio’s where food and beverages are served –even those where age restrictions limit patronage to adults 19 and over. This is what happens when ideology trumps common sense and practicality. At 8PM, a bar owner with a patio can not take out ashtrays and allow patrons to enjoy a cigar. Really?
It’s remarkably embarrassing that in a world class city like Toronto, there is no place, I mean no place, where you can sit down, order a drink, and have it served to you while you enjoy a cigar. Crazy. Smoke Free Ontario, where is the common sense in that?
As we have talked about many times since then, this is not the first time that the government has encroached on our personal freedoms –like the freedom of the bar owner to run their establishment as they see fit or the freedom of cigar smokers to enjoy a legal product. That the government levies huge taxes on cigars yet profits financially from their purchase while limiting consumers ability to enjoy that product to a few places, is in itself a big hypocrisy. I know of many non-smokers who defend our right to enjoy a legal product because of their concern that the government appears willing to go after legal public activities that they deem socially unacceptable. What’s next? “No cheeseburgers for you, you could lose a few pounds”?
Since then we have complied with the new laws and continue to look for legal alternate sites where we can enjoy cigars together. 10 meter, self serve F&B zones have been established at many golf and private clubs. While not perfect, they are legal as are the homes, back yards and cabanas of many of our customers who host events on our behalf. We have used many of these options and will continue to do do so in 2019. We will let you know 2019 details soon. In the meantime, we have had Toronto Public Health to the shop and our small table out front is yours to enjoy.