Oscar Valladares visits the Midwest.

oscar and gene and judes

Oscar Valladares of Leaf fame is in the Chicagoland area.  I took him to Gene and Jude’s in River Forest for a true Chicago tradition the other day – a double dog with fresh cut fries – and he liked it!!!

He’ll be in town the next few days.  So keep your eyes open.  We might just stop by.  Or show him your support and like the page!

I’m holding off on the blog posts this week and will concentrate my efforts to give Oscar some great memories to take back with him to Honduras.




Patience plus a stunning cigar equals success.


I’ve worked for numerous manufacturers over the years and one thing most have in common is an unrealistic expectation for their brand as regards to sales.  Here. Look. I have a cigar. I’ll call it Basura de Flores.  Dominican.  It comes in three sizes, robusto, toro, and 60.  Two wrappers, Habano and Maduro. No Connecticut.  Boxes of 20. Wholesale price for the robusto is $5.50. Toro is $6.00, and the 60 is $6.50.  No taxes are included. So at keystone, or double the cost, that comes to minimums of $11.00 for the robusto. $12.00 for the toro, and $13.00 for the 60.

The aroma is like Chanel No. 5 with genuine ambergris mixed in – unique, intoxicating. The wrappers are perfect, no imperfections whatsoever.  The draw is likened to the sipping of gooey honey from a wild bee’s honeycomb and the burn is laser perfect. The packaging is that of a graphic genius – who uses colors that pull on your emotions so that you want to bathe in them to absorb their glistening glitter. *

It is an experience like no other.  And I’m the only broker with access to these gems.  The only broker with the key to open your humi-doors to the unsuspecting smoker who would never have had the opportunity to smoke the cigar had it not been for my belief that what I represent is a shard of luxury and all I’m asking you to do is try one.

“But the prices?  What of them?” What of them, I ask?  Are you looking at this business as one that sells dried leaves for dollars?   Or are you in the business of smothering pure erotic pleasure across a smoker’s palate to give away a sensuous experience that will never be forgotten?  And he’ll come back to your shop because the manufacturer hasn’t whored out the brand on the internet.

But the shop owner doesn’t know this.  I’m just “telling” him this.  “Go ahead, smoke one.”  Pause. “See for yourself.”  He stretches his hand out to show me the plethora of cigars he already has in stock.  “What? My fault? Buy something that sells,” I confidently suggest.

He looks at me like I’m trying to sell him something.

“Here’s a sample. Try it.  You might like it.”

Does he?   Sometimes. Sometimes not.  But that’s the process. Sales have nothing to do with it.  It’s all in the cigar, the tobacco, the fermentation, the aging, ah, not even the price has a bearing on how the cigar smokes.  

But this is the disconnect.  “No one is asking for it”, he whines.  Has it been rated?” What do you care if it’s been rated you h. . . . .-h. . . . .a.s.  You’re always telling me the ratings are bogus. So WTF?  Now it’s an issue???

Does the manufacturer of the cigar or the brand owner see all this?  No. All he or she sees is the bottom line.  The number of orders generated.  And that can take a very long time for an unknown, but delectable, brand.

Brand owner’s thought bubble: “Bullshit!!!  These are Basura de Flores!  I created the blend.  I creAted the f@*+king blend!  It’s better than Padron, Davidoff, Ashton, etc., etc., etc.”  And it may very well be.  But it’s easier to convince the guy to kiss Joel Grey’s cupid bow lips who played the Emcee in the 1972 movie, “Cabaret” than it is to jam the damn cigar between his clenched teeth.


No Mr. Brand Owner.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

Ahhhhhhhhh.  But when the shop owner finally lights up the majestic conical maze of tobacco, he realizes he’s wasted months of making money and of course – introducing the customer to sheer smoking bliss.

Just wait.  If the cigar is shit, it’s S*+T!  It won’t sell. Period.

But if the cigar is spectacular – the results will be stupendous.

If you know you have a good one – all you gotta do . . . . is wait.

*  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guDZ7Bhgbz0

Interesting business this.

red door

Do you feel like a fish in a barrel, rifle readied, just because you smoke cigars?  Read on:

If you’ve ever watched “DJango Unchained” (2012) directed by Quentin Tarantino, there’s a sequence in the film when the former dentist now a full-fledged bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), and his newly purchased slave, DJango (Jamie Foxx) walk into a saloon in Daughtrey, Texas.  The owner panics, “Whoa! What the hell you think you doin’ boy, get that n….. outta here!”  When he sees this, he skedaddles for the sheriff.  Dr. Schultz reminds him in a loud voice, “Innkeeper! Remember, get the sheriff, not the marshall.” 

The sheriff walks into the saloon and asks them to step out of the saloon, which they do.  “Now why y’all wanna come into my town, start trouble, and scare all these nice people? You ain’t got nothin’ better to do, then (sic) to come into Bill Sharp’s town and show your ass?”

And this they do, leaving the saloon and stepping out into the street.

The former dentist walks toward the sheriff as if to shake his hand and instead a slight metallic sound produces a derringer and Schultz puts a bullet in his heart.  Then he walks over to the body and fires one into his head.  The Innkeeper runs to get the marshall with the echoes of the former dentist’s voice crying out, “Now you can go get the marshall.”

Now the two men return to the building and are holed up in the town of Daughtry’s saloon immediately after Schultz shot, in cold blood, the town’s sheriff.  

Now this entire scene is being played out because not only did Dr. Schultz, former dentist cum bounty hunter, shoot the town’s sheriff, but he also allowed Django (for those of you who haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so), a slave – a black man – to walk into the saloon and have a beer!  Gasp!

So now it’s up to the United States Marshall to set this whole debacle straight.

It’s only moments later when the entire town is walking behind the Marshall who is giving orders right and left of how this is going to play out.  “Move that buckboard over there long ways across the street from the saloon. And I want six men and six Winchesters behind it. And I want two men with two rifles on this roof, and two men with two rifles on that roof, with all barrels pointed at that front door.  And somebody git poor Bill outta the goddamn street.” (imsdb.com)

So the Marshall arrives and he’s talking loudly and directly towards the saloon doors where the two men are inside.  “We got eleven Winchesters on every way outta that buildin’! You got one chance to git outta this alive!  You and your n….. come out right now with your hands over your head, and I mean, right now!” (imsdb.com)

Dr. Schultz, the refined gentleman that he is, answers from the inside the marshall in duly polite fashion by slightly raising his voice and asks, “First things first! Is this the marshall I have the pleasure of addressing?”  The marshall answers back in the affirmative, “Yes it is, this is U.S. Marshall Gill Tatum.”

“Marshall Tatum,” Schultz continues, “may I address you, your deputies, and apparently the entire town of Daughtrey, as to the incident that just occurred?   Again, the marshall agrees with the caveat that both men will exit unarmed.

Dr. Schultz continues his planned exit by stating, “I have relieved myself of all weapons, and just as you have instructed, I’m ready to step outside with my hands raised above my head.  I trust as a representative of the criminal justice system of The United States of America, I shan’t be shot down in the street, by either you or your deputies, before I’ve had my day in court?

“You mean like you did our sheriff? Shot ’em down like a dog in the street?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean! Do I have your word as a lawman not to shoot
me down like a dog in the street?”

The Marshall agrees.  But before they exit the saloon he cautions Django by saying, “They’re a little tense out there.  So don’t make any quick movements, and let me do the talking.”

Both men walk through leaving the two swinging saloon doors behind them with their hands held high in the air. The marshall asks if he or the slave are unarmed and he reassures the marshall that neither of them has weapons.  And then he goes into his explanation of why what took place – took place.

“My name is Dr. King Schultz.  And like yourself, Marshall, I am a servant of the court. The man lying dead in the dirt, who the good people of Daughtrey saw fit to elect as their sheriff, who went by the name of Bill Sharp, is actually a wanted outlaw by the name of Willard Peck, with a price on his head of two hundred dollars. That’s two hundred dollars – dead or alive.” 

The marshall seems to talk to himself saying, “The hell you say.  

Dr. Schultz goes on to further explain what Peck was doing prior to being elected as Daugherty’s sheriff about two years ago.  And the Marshall is amazed to find out that the town’s sheriff was a cattle rustler at the “B.C. Corrigan Cattle Company of Lubbock Texas.”

Then the former dentist goes into the legal details by saying quite clearly, “In my possession (pointing to a tri-folded piece of paper held high) is a warrant made out by circuit court Judge Henry Allen Laudermilk of Austin, Texas. You are encouraged to wire him. He will back up who I am, and who your dear departed sheriff – was.  In other words marshall, you owe me two hundred dollars.”


Yep, that’s how I feel sometimes in this business.  You gotta take what’s yours as long as you know the law.  You gotta do what you know is right, no matter what the shop owner thinks is right.  

Which is happening right now with the FDA breathing down our necks and the shop owners are not too far behind looking for all sorts of insane deals to keep profits high to pay the fees that the FDA is requiring for inclusion.  Ergo my stance as an ersatz Dr. Schultz just doing my job. Preserving my livelihood. Dissing the discounts. “Duz does everything.” (Look it up.)


Interesting business, this.  But I’m hanging in there (excuse the pun) cuz I believe there are enough bodies, ahem – cigars, and sensible bounties, nay discounts – to go around.

No descriptive diarrhea needed.

horacio closeup

Whol – ē Shit!

I needed to stop for something at a gas station and had just lighted up an Horacio VII Classic (aka Don Horacio del Monte).  So I figured I would close my windows, leave the cigar on the seat, get whatever it is I can’t remember what it was, return to the car and relight it.

So after my purchase which took a little longer than I had hoped, I pressed the car door fob to open the lock, sat down, turned on the engine, and begin to drive away, picking up my cigar that had the lighted end cantilevered on the edge of the seat.  I’m getting ready to relight it but can’t – traffic gets in the way – more time wasted.  Back to driving.  I figure I’ll take a few more puffs just to see if it stayed lit. And wouldn’t you know it, the damn thing was ready to go!  A few healthy drags and I never had to take out my lighter.  And the first thing I remember saying out loud in the car to myself as I drove away was “Holy Shit!  This is some cigar!

So to hell with the thesis-length descriptions.  Here’s my review:

Horacio VII Classic (created by two Costa Rican based French-men, Fabian Gil and Christophe Leroy) is a damn good cigar!  Clearly, the flavors and construction are near perfect.

Wrapper Ecuador
Binder Costa Rica
Filler Nicaragua

Want more?  Buy one and see for yourself.  Soon to be available at your local tobacconist.

Just ask!

Ashes, ashes they all fall down.

they all fall down

“There are also several small mistakes, including one on the first page.  You don’t tap the cigar to break off the ash”: you roll the tip gently against the side of the ashtray.” (Times Literary Supplement 4.27.18)

This excerpt is from the not so stellar book review by Barbara Heldt of Tatyana Tolstaya’s first new collection of short stories in more than twenty years, “Aetherial Worlds.”  The book is translated by the writer, actor Anya Migdal, who has been given the approval by the author in the acknowledgments, and I quote, “‘for re-creating my world in English.” Ms. Migdal obviously is not a cigar smoker.  Her translation from Russian to English has a blatant fault in it.

This final sentence to the review that’s on the first page of Tolstaya’s collection of short stories is an example of a translator not taking the time out to do her due diligence about the minutiae of a particular aspect of a subject.

Well, cigar aficionados?  What is it? I was taught that the ash stays with the cigar until it decides to fall off on its own, as do the British in their oh so affected accented tone that can give any spoken words the sound of snippy authority.  Sir?

It’s all elitist nonsense.  Some tap the cigar, some roll it around the ashtray, some crunch it into the bottom of where the ashes are collecting, some don’t give a damn and pay no attention to when or where the ash lets loose from the smoldering conical leaves of aged tobacco. So it’s a moot point!  None of the writers know about cigars. So let’s all light up and finish the issue in repose.

“Cedar spill anyone?”

Cigar Repair Service. Send Your Damaged Cigars To Us.

damaged cigars

(I couldn’t pass this up.  Thank you Tabanero Cigars in Tampa, Florida.)

This service started as a joke in our boutique factory Tabanero Cigars in Tampa, Florida. Having our production line right in the front of the store our customers watch the entire process in front of them.

Customers and friends of the store will sneak into the production line and ask the rollers: “Hey my friend can you re-wrap this cigar for me I will pay you!” I realized that manufacturing in the United States has pros and cons. I made a sign with a price per stick repair to try and stop people asking for the repair service, and it did the opposite!

Because of the demand, our customers are suggesting to offer the service online so here it is:

Go to https://tabanerocigars.com/ and look at the bottom of the page for the sign – We Repair Cigars.  This is a service to re-wrap and triple cap your cigars.  We can’t make (sic) miracles if the cigars are broken in half or fractured!


Wet cigars

Flavored or infused cigars

Cigars that have been lit

Thank you!

Ordering Details:

Ship your damaged cigars (at your expense) to:

Tabanero Cigars

Attn: Cigar Repair

1601 E. 7th Ave

Tampa, FL 33605

Please include your order confirmation inside the box.

Minimum 5 cigars: $7.50

Any additional cigars (are) $1.50 per cigar

*Shipping will be added to this order for return shipping cost.

Submerged in the Night.

irv at midnight

On night’s that are hot and muggy, I almost don’t feel like smoking a cigar.  I’ll bet it’s still in the low 90s and it’s after 9 pm. Yet, what am I doing?  Good guess. Right on the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7).

It’s times like this that my mind can begin to play tricks on me.  You know, like a mirage in the desert. Undulating heat waves flowing upwards into the sky.  Right now the heavens are a rich Royal blue with shades of gray, and maybe if I stretch my color imagination, lithium blue.  But regardless, it’s getting dark, a slight breeze is coming from the West and I’m alone again.

To my left on the table is the June 25-July 8 2018 issue of New York Magazine.  On the cover is a purposely semi-faded photograph of former President Barack Obama.  The title? “Barack Obama, Where Are You?” The article is written by Gabriel Debenedetti. What’s it about, I can’t say.  Let me peek . . . . Ahhh. “The most popular American, whose legacy is the primary Target of Donald Trump, has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life.”  And for a fact, that is true.

I’ll read it later under natural or artificial lighting.  But I’m going to guess it’s an article that smashes Trump, the interpretation of the author.  But right now, I’m just enjoying my cigar. One called Big Al. I think I know where I got it.  Indiana. But it wasn’t banded and the printed UPC label on the back was quite worn. So I’m not sure.  Like I’ve been writing, I’m smoking cigars that are a minimum of five years old. Some have aged much longer.  But I will write once again that it’s the age of a cigar that determines its prowess. And this one is right up in the first row of the cigar market theater.  

Excuse me as I submerge myself.  Just me and my cigar . . . .