In this audio podcast, Dominican Republic native, Francisco Batista, talks to Gary Korb about his gig as General Manager and Premium Cigar Master Blender for Agio Caribbean Tobacco, whose brands include Royal Agio Cigars’ highly-acclaimed Balmoral and San Pedro de Macoris cigars. Click and listen now!
A good cigar book suggestion for Father’s Day: Playboy: The Book of Cigars
Since that night I’ve spent the past few weeks perusing the pages of this impressive “coffee table” book. Aaron & Nick and the people at Playboy did a really nice job of blending great factory and field photography with vintage artwork, classic Playboy photos, important facts about cigars, and of course, a little Playboy skin to round it all out. All-in-all, like a good cigar, a “well balanced” book, that’s worth owning, if only for the photos alone.
That said, and with Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, Playboy: The Book of Cigars would be a marvelous addition to the avid cigar smoker’s library. Coincidentally, the dedication page reads as follows:
This book is dedicated to my father, David Sigmond, and Stanley Epstein — two lovers of the leaf who taught me far more about life than they did about cigars…
The Forward is by long-time Playboy contributor, LeRoy Neiman, who also pays a brief tribute to his father: “There’s a certain kind of man who looks good with a cigar. My father was one of them…”
The first chapter, “Puffing with Playboy,” reminds us that Playboy magazine “has promoted the art of smoking” from the inside cover of their first issue in December of 1953. That takes us to Part One of the book which offers a brief history of cigars.
Part One also covers the various shapes and sizes of cigars, selecting cigars, tasting cigars, cigar lighters and cutters, cigar storage conditions and humidors, all magnificently illustrated. There’s even a section on long-term storage & aging, and limited edition cigars.
Part Two of the book digs into the Playboy Cigar Archives, starting with some classic photos of Playmates with cigars, a few cartoons, etc., then moves into the history of cigar advertising from the 1950’s to today. It’s interesting to see how the basic premise of premium cigar magazine ads hasn’t changed all that much.
I was also pleased to see the sections on the cigar-growing countries which are each given their own photo essay.
In Part Three the authors get down to what drinks are best for pairing with cigars, a glossary of where to smoke around the world, and a very select list (maybe a little too select) of premium cigars manufactured in Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and a few other countries.
The book closes with an Afterword by acclaimed actor and cigar lover, Joe Mantegna, who attributes his early fascination with cigars to his childhood; as a kid he watched a very sexy Edie Adams pitch Muriel cigars on television.
“If smoking a Muriel Coronella made me handsome and debonair enough to impress someone like Edie Adams, I was signing up.”
One of the best things to do with this beautiful book is to browse it while you’re smoking a cigar. Not only is it filled with all of the requisite “Cigars 101” and then some, it will also give you a good feeling about having made premium cigars an integral part of your lifestyle.
As Mr. Mantegna writes: “It’s as much the society of cigar smoking that’s the real pleasure, as opposed to the mere act itself. Some of the great friendships in my life have begun over the shared experience with a few men and/or women sitting down and solving the world’s problems over a beautiful hand-rolled smoke with an appropriate libation. Moments like that are the great equalizer.”