Gary Korb takes one more look at the Holidays with his list of top shelf cigars adorned with fancy white & gold bands. Whether it’s a last minute gift idea or a humidor-worthy primo to ring-in the New Year, you’ll find 12 of them all dressed-up and ready to smoke.
Cigar Expo 2011 “Cigarnival” Diary
Under the main tent, beverages (sponsored by Cusano Cigars) were served by eye-catching hostesses sponsored by Gran Habano Cigars who provided their sexy, two-piece attire; subsequently, VIP ticket holders enjoyed their cigars while a band and a DJ took turns during breaks. (Entertainment was sponsored by Altadis U.S.A.) While all of this was happening, the new Humidor at Leaf retail store was packed tighter than a box of square-pressed cigars as attendees perused the new 2,000 sq. ft, walk-in humidor and took advantage of the cigar and accessory specials.
Friday night, Gurkha Cigars sponsored the opening night party, and yours truly, along with my friend and colleague, Joe Ledva performed respectively on piano/vocals and bass. Though we rehearsed the set as a duo, Marvin Samel of Drew Estate provided additional vocals for many of the songs.
Saturday was Main Event Day. Though the weather was dense with cloudy skies and the occasional downpour, the turnout was excellent. I was assigned to hand out Value Line Nicaraguan 300 cigars made by Protalasa, and Giraldilla La Habana made by Raices Cubanas in Honduras. I usually ask where people are from as they come up to the table to get their cigars, and I met people from all over the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania tri-state area, as well as upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Chicago. I also recognized a lot of faces from previous Cigar Expos. Apropos of nothing, I smoked one of the Value Line 300 Nics this morning, and it was quite impressive. I may even make it my Cigar of the Week this Wednesday.
Another thing that caught my attention was the number of women in attendance this year. Many were there with their husbands and boyfriends mostly for companionship, but I also met several women who were serious cigar smokers.
Back in the store lounge, men were getting straight razor shaves sponsored by Drew Estate. That’s when I realized I shouldn’t have shaved before coming in. I always wanted one of those shaves. And if that wasn’t enough pampering, outside Camacho Cigars sponsored a tent where you could get a neck or back massage.
While lunch was served, which included pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, and sides, several performers did their acts on the main stage. It was also about this time that Jeff Brown announced the Drew Estate Casino was open for business. Later on, during the dinner hour, another band performed as the guests dined on roast pig stuffed with spices in the center. Following dinner, Jeff began the raffle which included everything from ashtrays to i-Pads, to trips to Nicaragua and Honduras.
Unfortunately, I had to blow-off the After Party sponsored by Rocky Patel Saturday night. I went home to shower and change, and by the time I was supposed to head back the rain was coming down in buckets and some of the roads were already beginning to flood. I actually got in my car and made it halfway there until common sense told me it wasn’t worth the risk, since several hours later it was going to be even worse.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how great the staffs from both the Leaf Restaurant and retail store handled literally hundreds of visitors, not to mention the employees who had to do a lot of the grunt work. Thanks also to all the vendors who made it, and without whom, there would be no event.
Finally, Leaf has already received a truckload’s worth of emails from attendees saying what a great time that had. And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?
If you were there, please leave comment below and tell us about your experience. In the meantime, see you next year!