Monthly Archives: December 2015

It’s Gotta Be Done!

More snow this morning and I thought I was going to wretch.  But it was light and when I went out to exchange my yearly planner (the one I was given for Christmas was too large) the shoveling was over quickly.  There’s a lot of romanticism attached to the cigar broker business, but it is – a business.  Yes, I have access to hundreds of brands of cigars that I can smoke at will.  Though not in the house because the no smoking laws have been in effect here at the office long before the national laws changed the way cigars smokers light up.  And I do need some structure, ergo the planner. me scheduling

Today is scheduling day at the offices of Irv CigarBroker.  Every year at this time I take a look at last year’s schedule and go over it month-by-month to see how it flowed.  Review if I got to all the stores the number of times I projected.

You see I do scheduling the old-fashioned way.  I do not rely on electronic gadgetry for my monthly meetings.  I use paper and pen, often pencil because the schedule can change.  And there’s this rubber tip on the end of the pencil called an eraser that wears down quickly at times.  This year’s schedule is going to be especially difficult because I’m working with some different manufacturers (and they all want to come into town) and very often their plans conflict with mine.  But as my business mantra states – My Business.  My Plan.  (By the way I have my doctor to thank for that, she was instrumental in helping me in keeping my sanity a few years ago and one day she popped out with that phrase and it stuck.)  And I DO stick to it.

There will be two main challenges – the weather and the manufacturers’ visits.  The weather I have no control over.  But a manufacturer’s visit I do.  Usually I don’t look forward to riding with anyone, especially a manufacturer.  That’s because I’m a broker.   And I represent a variety of cigars that I want to introduce to the shops.  When I’m with one brand’s sales manager or the manufacturer himself or herself, I have to put aside the other brands I rep for however many days, and that is not conducive to my business.  Will I ride with them?  Of course I will.  But I try to limit their infiltration to three days.  I can take anybody for three days, but if the stay extends to four or five days, someone is going to have to peel me off the ceiling.

scheduling desk

How I go about getting to the hundreds of stores that I visit each year is really rather simple.  Some shops are visited quarterly, some three times a year, others – never, I do the “never” visits via email.  It’s just not cost effective for me to travel, say from Palatine to the borders of Kentucky for one store.  The owner agrees and we co-exist just fine.

I try to stop into each store in the four states I cover (IL, IN, WI, MI) at least six times a year.  That’s every two months.   But I have to remain flexible because things change on a daily basis.  My schedule is there as a guide and I use it that way.  Though I can be a barge stuck in Mississippi mud when I feel I’m being manipulated, or someone wants an event on a particular day and I’m just not in the state or the area.  Yes I am flexible, but I don’t want to be pulled like taffy and end up trying to please everyone knowing full well that I can’t.  I do my utmost to please, but I have to have boundaries for both the shops and the manufacturers and they have to be aware of that.  (This is where I say my mantra.)  One year I tried to do it all and I practically killed myself.  I’m a quick study and I find that you can’t do it all.  Damn the Blue Vase.  (Look it up.)

business cards

So what I have done is I have divided the areas in each state into groups.  I make a military mission out of it because as a broker, the manufacturer gives you nothing but samples.  I have to pick up the tab for all the other needs.  All.  So in order to be efficient with the business and pull in as much profit as I can, I have to keep my expenses down and my eyes ahead.

Give you an example:  Michigan.  Big State.  Lots of cigar shops.  I can’t do the state all in one week (nor would I want to).  But I opt to not stay out over a week.  I have a family and I’m very much aware of that.  So Michigan receives six visits a year, upper (read Traverse City) gets three visits with the show counting as one.  It works and has for the past few years.  Do I visit every store each time I’m on the road?  No.  The ducks have never gotten in a row like they should and I have to catch them on a later trip, date, or by phone, or Skype or some such way – but I do remain in contact.  Plus I call ahead.  These shops know I’m coming in.  So make concessions.  Work with me.  Ninety-nine point nine percent of them do.

The easiest is what I call Local Runs.  I get to and from these shops in a day and I can spend just a little more time in each shop.  Anytime I’m out of town I have to hustle and get to as many shops as is possible without rushing the owner. No one likes to feel rushed and quite frankly each shop has its own personality and you have to flow with it.

So I have to get down to work here.  The machinations of setting up the year takes a few hours and I do want to have time to enjoy my reward – a viewing of Reservoir Dogs.  Just too bad I can’t light up a cigar and watch it undisturbed.  Yeah, I’ll be undisturbed but I’d sure love to have that cigar.

andres-cigar-lounge-870x350Hug, hug.  Smooch, smooch.  Draw, Draw.  For those who want to get back to the romantic cigar mood.   Now excuse me I have to get to work.

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Infusion Confusion

I just came in from shoveling 12 tons of ice crystals, snow, and water for lubrication.  As I head to the backyard, my wife tells me, “You’re going to kill me.”  I figured she put a crack in the siding (new).  Instead she tells me to take a look at the Christmas tree.  “I think it’s tilting to one side.” So I hurry it up, double step the back stairs and get into the living room.  Yep, it’s tilting.  How?  I don’t have a clue, but I get underneath it like you would under a car and check the screws to make sure they’re tight.  I stand back and give it a slight shove and it seems to be steady – at least for one more day.

One more day.  Or as sung so eloquently by Dinah Washington, What a Difference a Day Makes.    Yesterday was nothing more than a full 24 hours of rain, sleet and snow all mixed together to form a partially coagulated mess of heavy slush.

Today on the other hand I knew would be the better start because it’s rare in the Midwest to have back-to-back days of inclement weather.  So it was a good morning to meet with the owner of a cigar company that contacted me through Linkedin.  I really didn’t know what to expect as I got into the car to drive to The Cigar Lounge in Schaumburg, Illinois.  I already told this guy that I am not interested in representing infused cigars.  Plus with you know who gobbling up that end of the market, the competition is so great what’s the point?  Unless you can offer something so totally different it towers above the behemoth.

As I walk toward the shop, Harry is walking away with a hammer in his hand and I quip, “What did you do, quit?”  He quickly asks me what the guy is representing and I told him on the run, and I head for the shop.  I walk in and there he is in the humidor.  I open the door and I introduce myself.

tim c

His name is Tim Cavenagh, Jr. and owns the Alpha Cigar Company.  He also lives in China and is here on holiday and will take time out to visit the DR to check up on the cigar and the two new blends that he has on the boards.   I introduce him to Harry.  Tim and I head toward the back lounge where it’s quiet, no TV or other distractions.

“Well, let’s see what you have.”  He pulls out of his pocket what appears to be a decent looking corona.  It’s double-banded and has a beautiful brown shade to the wrapper.  I find out that it’s a Connecticut leaf from Ecuador.  The binder and filler are Dominican.  Now here’s the difference, on the surface it looks like an ordinary cigar.  The band is classic and there’s really nothing unusual about the cigar.

green

But this is a cigar that is infused with Absinthe, the French Liqueur.  “Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (“grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color but may also be colorless.” (Wiki).  In layman’s terms, it’s liqueur that tastes like refined licorice.  Hmmm.

The cello is still on the cigar and I just wonder what type of gaseous hit I’ll get when I remove the covering.  I do and I am subtly surprised.  It has the hint of the liqueur but is not as if it’s been soaking in a bottle on the counter for half a year.  There’s a delicate, lacey quality to the aroma and I am curious what the flavor will be like once I light up the cigar.  Which I do.

brshot

The construction looks flawless, and the fill is just right for a perfect draw.  The pre-draw was nondescript and so I figured the cigar would be as well.  But to my delight, I find that the first draw is as pleasant as that first pillow of cotton candy pulled from the white paper funnel.  It has such an indulgent melting quality of the essence of anise and a light, so very slight, hint of pine sap on the back end.  And this is from the beginning.  I can’t wait to smoke the cigar down to where the accumulation of oils and heat mix cauldron-like to produce a concoction of heavenly aromas and flavors.

The burn is razor sharp,  and as the ash continues to grow not only in size, but forms  a B&W rainbow tube of grays and streaks of black that seem to aerate the cigar giving it a clean, fresh quality.  If this is infused, it is so delicately done, that the true tobacco leaf flavors are dominant and the Absinthe liqueur marries with same to produce one of the more mild and appealing cigars of this genre.  Mind you, I don’t smoke infused cigars but this is far from unpleasant, and I went full bore and had another.  It, too, was as good as the first and the only difference was the additional spice that crept in and was stronger in the second.  Perhaps too soon for number two, but a lovely addition just the same.

alpha ash tray

Tim said he may tweak the blend a smidge to give the cigar a stronger essence of anise.  But I boldly stated that he has the mild one, work on the stronger ones without disturbing the balance here because this one – the one we are smoking – is on point.

What he will do, I don’t know.  This is a limited production and he is in the beginning stages of finding the right blend that suits his palate.  It’s his cigar.  And it could be all of ours if given the chance.

 

 

My Impressions.

stepping stones

The ground is covered with sleet, rain, and frozen grass peeking through opaque white orbs of glassy ice – it’s not a pretty day.  Certainly one I wouldn’t set aside to smoke a cigar in the garage, but I think I will.  I’ve another hopeful cigar manufacturer that sent me a variety of sticks for my opinion.  I appreciate the confidence (or foolhardiness) depending on how you look at me sampling cigars.

ronnie coleman

The cigar has a pedigree I’m told and is made along with a well-known brand.  You surmise.  But, that means nothing to me because I was once a fixture in the Bodybuilding community as a reporter/ publisher and I knew that the personal nutritionist of the then Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, did not divulge his secrets to those who competed against the champ – even though he was their nutritionist as well.  Did he leave out ingredients?  Bodybuilding is a sport concomitant to genetics.  So it really wasn’t what supplements or food the other athlete ingested as much as it was how the athlete’s muscles responded to the combinations bestowed upon him from his or her parents. But still, you wonder.

Same goes with cigars.  A brand can be made at the same house as a well-known cigar, but the resultant cigar can be second-rate that contains none of the emboldened flavors as its better-known namesake because of the tobaccos and how they are blended.  It’s oftimes not where the cigar is made, as it is how much passion and love the cigar receives and the tobacco it uses.

Indeed, all new cigar manufacturers want their creation to succeed.  I just read a post that there’s one fellow on his way to the country of origin to check on his work in progress.  It just keeps going ad infinitum.  Cigars.  Cigars.  Cigars.

ow

And once and awhile someone will hit a nugget of solid gold.  I know I have as the cigar maker/blender himself has expressed.  I love the cigar.  I may be the rep.  But, the brand is months away from completion, so anything can happen – including an inflated cranium which will distort the final outcome and future blends – guaranteed.  As was recently written by Alex Ross in the December 7th issue of the The New Yorker in an article, The Shadow: A hundred years of Orson Wells, “. . . This is largely how today’s culture has chosen to remember Wells: as a pompous wreck, a man who peaked early and then devolved into hackwork and bloated fiascos.”  Substitute a cigar blend for Wells and you have raw truth. 

So I go to the humidor downstairs to pick out one of three choices.  I have my preference of the Ecuador Connecticut with a 4-year-old Criollo binder and same aged filler of Dominican and Honduran leaves; the one wrapped in San Andreas Broadleaf, with an aged Dominican Binder finished with a trio of fillers –  Dominican, Honduran, and Peruvian; or the one enrobed in a 5-year criollo seed ligero wrapper, with a “4-year-aged ’59 Cuban seed corojo seed binder (?),” and filled with multi-year (4, 5, 7) Dominican and Honduran tobaccos.

aka cigar

My – decisions, decisions.   I think I’ll go with the San Andreas wrapper.  The copy says the cigar gives off oodles of chocolate notes, coffee beans and earth.  There’s too much snow on the ground right now to compare earth so I’ll do that one by my sensory memory.  OK let’s compare the copy with my findings.

The pre-draw is good.  There’s a slight barnyard aroma to the wrapper.  I’m lighting it up.  Clouds of quality smoke ensue with a favorable bouquet.  I can detect some coco, but no coffee or earth tones seep in at all.  It’s a rugged burn as if the filler and binder will ignite but the wrapper is having a challenge keeping up.  The wrapper is flaying out as the creature does in the car in Jurassic Park but that’s not an advantage here – just a distraction.

flayed bad

The flavor is one dimensional.  Coco – no coffee.  The body is light and every once and awhile a hint of spice infiltrates the smoke.  It’s not a bad smoke, but the construction is a mess.  I constantly have to even out the burn with my torch and even then it eventually goes back to the filler burning and the wrapper failing to follow the interior burn.  Something is amiss here.

It’s not bitter and not hot.  But there is no reason for me to light up another one except to see if it reacts the same way.  But time is short and I’ll have to go with my first impressions.  I smoked it to the very end and I was able to pull some flavor, but it was so distant that the essence of whatever it was – was fleeting at best.

This is a cigar that needs to be revisited and I said I’d smoke it.  And I did.

 

 

 

Good All Around

Sound vibrations kept slamming me in the chest until I had to move to the side of the stage.  My wife and I were at the Beat Kitchen, an alternative music venue/bar on Belmont in Chicago listening to our son’s band – A Semester Abroad.  We just made it. We missed one song but came in as they were jack-hammering Punk Pop music into the ears of a crowd of head bobbing, body tossing devotees of one of their own compositions “Gold Team Rules.”

Beat Kitchen

Miles formed the band about three years ago and has been relentlessly molding it into one of the more well-known Punk Pop bands in the area.   Personnel changes were made constantly until he found the proper mix and even tonight they had Latrell, a new bass player, stand in, and he did an admiral job considering the short time they all had to meld.

Miles plays the drums and takes after his old man.  He still uses the same 1964 Gretsch black pearl kit I used when I was in my heyday of rock ‘n roll.  Tonight however, he used a red sparkle kit but kept his snare.  That snare’s tone will put ANY snare to shame – even the modern day Gretsch.

And so they rocked and they sounded great.  I was thinking of how far Miles has come and how far he will go.  He’s going to one of the best colleges in Chicago so his back-up plan is sound. (Excuse the pun.)

Concert Photo

This went on for about 20 minutes and we talked with some of the others that came to see him but right now all that was on my mind was food and a cigar – and hitting the bathroom.

I truly didn’t know what to expect in this damp, green, downstairs dungeon but when I walked in I was pleasantly surprised.  Clean.  In fact, it was decorated.  The first thing that caught my eye was a piece of work hanging on the wall where the mirror should have been, I remarked to myself “Jean-Michel.”   Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) is considered to be one of the most important contemporary artists of the 20th century.  It’s all in your perspective, but I agree.

Beat Kitchen Bathroom

I headed back upstairs.  We parked just down the block so the walk to the car was short.  The trip back uneventful and we stopped at a local Chinese take-out and picked up our dinner – albeit a bit late.  Chinese fried rice.

The weather was beginning to change so I knew I had to get the dogs out before it got either rainy or too windy.  I didn’t know what cigar to take with me, and it was getting colder but priorities are priorities – get the cigar.  I went to my stash and looked ‘em over hoping not to make the same mistake of a day or two ago.   So I grabbed a Guillermo Pena Habano Maduro.  The wrapper is Ecuadorian, the filler and binder Nica aged to flawlessness.  Its appearance alone would draw you to the cigar that’s enrobed in a brown sienna leaf with a flash of gold ribbon around the foot.  “Take me, take me!”  (Tiny voices.)  So I do.

GP

I get the leash on the Bob and we head out.  I light up almost immediately and know that there will be no disappointments to the end of this evening.  Hmm.  That first draw is transcendent and it only gets better from that second on.

This is one cigar that is not getting enough love out there and I can’t understand why.  The price certainly is not an issue coming in at tops $7.99 for the Toro, and even less in states surrounding cash-strapped, over-taxed, and mismanaged Illinois.   The flavor will make you swoon with delight.

Draw?  Near perfect with a slight drag that only accentuates the oils that build up as you ascend the stick.  The construction proves itself as it can hold a solid two- inch ash that when jettisoned leaves the perfect conical ember at the tip.  (No camera and it’s just too dark for a decent photo.  The flash would destroy the subtle mien of the cigar.)

Its flavor is not as complex as some, but you don’t have to have a smorgasbord of flavors to enjoy one.  GP has a woodsy kick to it that is complemented with a bit of well-done, copper-cooked caramel and that’s about it.  The changes emanate not necessarily in flavor but in your emotions as you smoke a cigar that’s consistent and just damn good.

The walk is short with Bob, so I head to the backyard and just stand there looking at the sky, speckled with stars and wisps of moonlight reflected clouds and absorb the sensual joy of choosing the right one this time.  Life is good.

 

 

 

 

“Wow! I coulda had a V-8!”

I was calm. I got up early Christmas Day around 5am and took the dogs out.  The outside was as quiet as it was the time we took an impromptu vacation to Wyoming and as we were driving on a small road with prairie on either side I whispered, “Stop the car.”   I got out and I listened.  I heard total, complete silence.  I heard nothing.  No cars, no planes, no birds, no sounds at all.  Quiet as death.  I had never experienced such solemnity but recognized right away that this moment of somber stillness could be had.  Redux.  Even in the city. backyard

The morning air was chilled, but certainly not cold.  Not even brisk.  I finished walking both dogs sans cigar and came inside beginning to remember what a c…..r f..k last December was.

Today was a far cry from the chaotic tornado of activity that smothered our entire family last year as we prepared my mom’s house for the new owner who would be closing by the 31st.

That meant we had just less than 30 days to empty the house of over 40 years of living in bags, boxes or bundles.  And at times, when I would be overcome with emotion every time I opened another treasure chest of memories, I can remember tearing up while sitting on the basement stairs overwhelmed with the job ahead of us and how my mother would react to her new life in a supportive living facility not far from where we live.

But today was a new Christmas.   I had bought all the presents, especially for E, my wife, even for her birthday which comes only a few days after the 25th.  I felt as if I had my act together.  I knew.  Twelve months had passed.  We were all prepared for a day of celebration, food, opening gifts and for me – smoking a cigar.

Which cigar it would be was a mystery for me.  But I knew it would be something I hadn’t had in a long time.  Maybe a Cuban, maybe one without a band, maybe, maybe, maybe.  I was going to delve into my private stash where there are some cigars that have been setting for over 10 years.cache

But first came the opening of the presents so we all donned out Santa hats and began to give out the gifts.  What an array of odd presents, a box of pens, (I go through them like water through a sieve), mugs for E, guitar straps for Miles, my own copy of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Django Unchained.  My goal is to collect all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, and I am well on my way.

Next visit Mom – 95 and still kicking.  We stay for a small family lunch.  We wheel my Mom back to her room say our good byes, and we are on our way back home to have a quick piece of leftover pizza – and my cigar!cooked flank

But remember the flank steak.  We prepare for dinner.  Everything goes as planned.  The meat is tender, the dressing sublime, the Brussel sprouts darkened to perfection, the tots add texture, and the gravy smooths out the entire meal.  We have French Silk Pie for dessert and now.  NOW!

Finally I get to pick my cigar.  So I run downstairs to the humidor and start looking through the saved sticks.  I didn’t remember all that I had.  Which one?  I had a few put on the side, but I just didn’t know what to do.  I grouse around until I see a small bag with six cigars.  I knew they were seven-year-old beauts that should, if they aged well, should be like a cut of porterhouse steak from a loin that’s been hanging for months in a climate controlled medieval cove aged to absolute perfection.   I took one out of the bag.  It was in perfect condition.esencia

I rush back upstairs and head for the outdoors.  It’s Christmas in Chicago and I’m going out to smoke it!  I clip the head and hit the foot with the butane.  The very first flavor I detect is licorice – but not the homemade kind.   An omen? Then something fruity snuggles in and the cigar turns into a forest preserve.  Wood. Spice.  I draw some more.  Wood.  Spice.  Oh, boy, when the embers unlock the complexity, I’m going to swoon with unmeasured pleasure.  I take another draw.  Wood.   Spice.ashnotes

It’s a smooth cigar, the smoke is chewy and the quantity of same is quite adequate.  The cigar begins to burn down.  The ash is dark gray, almost black and flakey; a clump falls on my notes.  The burn is uneven.  The flavor is the same.  No.  No.  Hold on.  Wait!  Something is changing.   Eureka!    (Pause.)  Bitterness.   Not the type that complements but the kind that distracts and dries the mouth out.   Age failed here.

I give it all I’ve got.  I bestow upon it the benefit of the doubt.  I give it a chance.  Why won’t it give back to me?  Where’s the reciprocity?  Where’s the pleasure damnit!  It’s Christmas Day and I picked a 7-year-old aged Nicaraguan Esencia 2008.  Over all the others I picked this one!   I don’t know if the company is still in business, and at this point I don’t care the cigar is practically out.  And so am I.

Southside Run

flankIf the rain Chicago was drenched with today had been snow, a white Christmas would have been with us until March!   But it poured and I was headed to the Southside.  Rain?  No problem.  Snow?  Disaster.

I hit what I call the Southside Run.  I go into Marrionette Park and Summit (both right on the border of Chi-town), Chicago, and Evergreen Park.  The latter is also on the edge of Chicago.

I pretty much knew the orders would be nada, but I try to get to as many shops “locally” as I can to personally wish the owners Happy Holidays.

ccs

First stop was Cigarette City in Summit.  Jack wasn’t at the counter when I walked in (it’s more of a liquor store with a good-size selection of cigars) so I asked if he was in.  He was, finishing up a bowl of something in a styrofoam bowl.  Always with the smile, I shook his hand and wished him a “Merry Christmas.”  I asked for permission to take a picture, but he said he’d rather not have that done.  But his smile of years of standing behind the counter dealing with not only cigars reps but liquor reps was enough to make my morning start out just right.

I quickly left and was onto stop number two – Tobacco City in Marrionette Park.  This is an eclectic shop that not only sells cigars, but a smattering of all sorts of paraphernalia such hats, food, pipe tobacco, ashtrays, candy, pop, and whatever else Mary thinks will sell.

tobch

When I walk in, she’s behind tall stacks of product and immediately she asks me “What are you doing here?”  “To stop by and wish you a “Merry Christmas.”  Her sister, Camille, was also there and I extended my hand to wish her Happy Holidays.  The store has been run for years in such a fashion that you can’t get a negative vibe from this place if you looked for it.  The humidor is piled high with cigars from who knows how many manufacturers.  All I know is that she’s supported me from the beginning and always asks about my Mom.  Other than that, we parted and I headed to store number three.  Each stop getting further soaked.

bevsign

Three is Beverly Cigar, located in Chicago on Western Ave.  This shop has been around for I don’t know how long, but when I walk in there’s a single patron smoking a cigar with no sign of Margaret, the manager,  since the two owners are rarely ever there.  Sometimes Patty, the original manager, will fill in, but she’s gone part-time so the whole shebang is in Margaret’s hands.  By now the rain is coming down sideways so I take a shot of the interior and try to get one of the same sign that’s been displayed outside since the store opened. “Merry Christmas!”  She returns the greeting and I hustle out of there in spite of the torrential, persistent rain.

Now, if truth be told, I came to the Southside not only to personally greet the owners and managers of the stores I service, but to pick up our Christmas dinner – flank steak.  The County Fair Grocery store on Western is one of the few shops in the area that sill runs a real butcher shop offering top grade meats.  I was a butcher for years before I got into the cigar business and this is one place you can still find a pink, tender flank steak that wasn’t wrapped or frozen before it got put out for sale.

I head over to the spot where they are stacked after asking one of the meat cutters and I’m amazed at the selection.  I don’t know which one to choose, so I just use my former knowledge of color, size, feel, and a little bit of luck and in the back, there it is – our meal.  I grab it and skedaddle toward the counter to pay up and head on over to my last stop – Smokey Bear on 87th.

smokeys humidor

The rain refuses to stop and continues to shower sideways, but I run to the car, start the engine and hope for a short cigar at Smokey’s.  I luck out and find a parking spot in the lot, usually I park on the side, but with the downpour, I want to get as near the door as possible this time.  And behold the owner, Pam, and the humidor manager Eric Ellison are both standing at the lottery machine.  Apparently there was a problem and they were working on it when I arrived.

Fixed in what seemed record time, I wished Pam a “Merry Christmas” and proceeded to go over to shake Eric’s hand to do the same.  He still has his beard, by the way.  “Hey, I got to take a photo of that.  I thought you shaved it off!”  “Apparently he uploaded an old photo on FB recently clean shaven.  So now I had proof.  He suggested we take a double selfie.  Snap!  I stick around to chat.  No cigar this time though, Kenyatta is manning the humidor and what a cigar nirvana this is for the area.

selfie2

I purposely take a humidor shot with one of the cigars I rep in view, wish Kenyatta a Happy Holiday, wave so long to all and head back outside.  By now the rain has subsided somewhat and I’m hungry for a Portillo’s burger.  I get that taken care of and head home.

It was a quick day but a joyful one.  In the cigar industry you can make friends that stay with you for years.  That’ll be it for my Southside Run for this year.  And I’m looking forward to getting that flank steak home for the main event on Friday.  Yes, the Cigar Broker’s life is a cluttered mix of doing many things and in the end – the effort is worth every minute.