A massage, a lunch & a cigar.

lunch at q

You think Elizabeth would have been the famished one.  She had just gotten a full body massage at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Salon & Spa on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  Sounds Ta!  Don’t you think?  And to tell you the truth they treated her like an angel from heaven the way she related her experience to me as we walked to the restaurant.

red door salonBut while she was in the spa, I was sauntering around – people watching.  My son said he becomes slightly embarrassed when I stare, but how else will I absorb what I want to see unless I give it the time it needs to soak into my brain.  I want to give the image time to embed itself into my psyche.

Same with buildings, I took a full shot of the John Hancock Tower and if others were watching, I looked like a tourist.  But I really don’t mind what they are thinking, because the odds are that other people are not even paying attention to me, they merely want to walk around me or hope I get out of their way.


After the specified time reached its end, I trekked back to the Red Door.  I was the only male waiting in the place, but it was amazing how many women passed me by.  Having a massage is a luxury.  I was further shocked to see how some of the women were dressed.  Eventually Elizabeth appeared and we headed for the eatery.

The massage was a Christmas gift from last year and we coupled it with a lunch at “q” – a tony bbq restaurant on Dearborn, right next to Biggs Mansion, one of the most elegant cigar lounges in the city.  One of my stops I would make.   Why not?  I’m so close.

So we sat in what I call New York seating, long soft couches with the other patrons separated by a comfortable space between in the brighter section of the restaurant on one side – chairs on the other.  We began to peruse the menu.  I had been there before, so I knew what I was going to order.  E decided on a salad with tips of filet mignon, beans, bacon and blue cheese dressing, whilst I went full-bore and had the beef brisket on a luscious brioche bun along with the full line of sauces.  I shan’t go further into detail – other than to say it was a sensuous eating experience that will be forever cataloged in my mind.

As we ate, we talked about the massage – E’s first.  One of the subjects that came up was this nonsense about the government essentially cutting out the sale of boutique cigars.  You know I only sell boutique cigars.  I was asked this morning in a message whether or not the ruling would have a Brobdingnagian effect on my business.  Would I have a job?  And at that time I stoutly returned the printed message that there would be changes, but I wasn’t bowing out by any means.

roulettBut the question rolled around in my head like the ball spinning on a roulette wheel never hitting a number just going around and around and around.  So after we had lunch, we drove back home.  I took out one of the cigar samples I’d been sent by a hopeful young cigar maker and I lit it up to give this curious question some deeper thought.  A cigar would only enhance that process.

It’s a micro-boutique cigar called Don Roque – Nicaraguan with an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper.   So I lit it up and started rationalizing about this whole predicament.  And without giving away the ideas, I began to realize that the situation could be worse – at least for the time being.  I mentally began to weigh my options.  And then I began to study the cigar while I was collating my thoughts.

don cigar

Not much is known about this cigar.  I’ve not seen any buzz on social media about it.   It’s not been mentioned.   I’m not sure if this is considered a premium cigar or a long-filler bundle variety.  It has a fine draw throughout which allows for the smoke to keep coming without any hindrance.

But I can’t say this cigar is ready for market.  He tells me in his message that he makes them.  If that’s the case, he needs to go back to the drawing board to lift some of the bitterness out and add some sweetness.  The flavors are unidentifiable.   He’s using aged tobacco for sure, but something is amiss.

qashgrassThe ash is flaky and shows black streaks along with gray and white.  Does that matter; it does because the color of the ash indicates how well the soil has been prepared which undoubtedly will affect the flavor of the cigar.  The burn is uneven until you hit the midway point.  Then the cigar seems to settle down and touches on the enjoyable.  But that is short lived and remains a problem that needs to be seriously examined.

Look, everyone doesn’t hit a home run every time at bat.  (My apologies for the cliché.)   That’s impossible.  And I don’t know if this cigar is a prototype or the final decision.  If it is the final decision, then I suggest tweaking the blend.  And don’t forget, this is my opinion not the final word.

I don’t like to criticize any cigar.  There are thousands of options that can be attempted.  I think with some modifications this cigar will have a chance on the open market.  But now with the new FDA rules, it’s harder than ever to try out a cigar in the marketplace and then change it due to whatever the cost is going to be to have it approved each blend.  And the time it will take the FDA to OK the cigar is up in the air.  What does the FDA know about cigars?  Nothing.  So I can’t see any speed checking to get the product out in a timely manner.  A cigar maker today almost has to be perfect the first time out.  That’s quite a challenge, but it can be met with patience and passion.

For me, quitting isn’t an option.  Changing is.  So if I have to regroup to continue my business, then cigar makers can regroup and come out with gems of joy the first time.

NY cover





One thought on “A massage, a lunch & a cigar.

  1. Patrick

    Rhoda at Biggs is my contact at Biggs. Have you ever smoked the bespoke blends. They are some of my favorite blends and I only can get them there. Gran cafe and the Cotten tail are my favorites.
    Life is good.



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