Month: November 2009

Cigar Event: Herf At Reno Dammit! (H.A.R.D.) Part 2

Sunday started with coffee at Mel’s Diner at the Sands with Mark, Anita, Jim and Randall.  We were expecting the rest of the gang to show up, but we only saw Gary and his family on our way out.  We got packed up and Mark, Anita and I said our good byes as they headed back to California, and I went back to park myself at the CalNeva sports book for another day of hanging out with friends and smoking cigars. Notable smoked included  Liga Privada T52,  Saint Luis Rey Serie A and  Camacho Candela.

The crowd was a little smaller today and I was able to hang out with some different folks:  Bob C, Richard, Steve, Keith and Mike G, Mike H, amongst others. Some folks had bets on the football games, Steve S had to leave earlier than planned, but had to stay for the Patriots/Jets (I think) game as he had placed a multi-game bet and apparently the Patriots gave him some cause for concern (he was sweating…). The Patriots covered the spread and he cashed out and hit the road. Sunday evening those of us who were left all went to the buffet at the Eldorado which was just way too much great food.  I had a piece of prime rib just to be able to say I had prime rib three days in a row.  Hung out for one last cigar and called it a night.

I’m a pretty nervous traveler, so Monday morning I arranged for a 7 AM shuttle to the airport. I had a 10:00 flight to San Francisco so I got there plenty early. I sailed through security, found my gate and settled in for the wait.  Reno Airport offers free wireless internet, so I was able to get some photos from the weekend uploaded to Flickr and catch up on some e-mails. The flights home were uneventful.  It was nice to get home after a great weekend.  Many thanks to Bob Greene for organizing H.A.R.D. for the 11th year. It was great seeing so many old friends and meeting new ones, many of which I had had e-mail contact with before.  It’s always fun sharing cigars with like-minded individuals. Lots of thanks to Jenn for talking me into going and making it possible!

Until the next time,



Cigar Event: Herf At Reno Dammit! (H.A.R.D.) Part 1

After a long and arduous day of travel on Friday,  I finally made it to Reno for the 11th annual Herf At Reno Dammit!, otherwise known as H.A.R.D.  Bob Greene has been organizing this event for the last decade and does a nice job.  The schedule is fairly open.  The days spent sitting around the CalNeva sports book smoking cigars and telling stories and dinners every evening followed by more cigars in the sport book.  People attended from Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, Florida and of course, Pennsylvania.  One of the best things about this event is that it’s pay-as-you-go and Reno can be a pretty reasonable place for a cheap bastard like myself.  My flight into Reno was due in at 12:30 PM, but high winds made us abort our landing attempt and make a stop in Sacramento to refuel and wait out the winds.  While I was waiting in the Sacramento airport I was in contact with my friend Steve who was driving from San Francisco to Reno and happened to be passing Sacramento at the time.  I decided to decline his offer to pick me up, I had check a bag and figured it would be easier to wait out the flight rather than having to get back to the airport to retrieve my luggage.  This turned out to be a wise move on my part, as much as I would have enjoyed spending the time with Steve, there was a snowstorm in the Donner Pass and Steve didn’t make it into Reno until 9:30 PM.  He had to get chains put on his rental car and had a pretty miserable trip.  I finally made it into Reno after the winds died down and contacted friends Mark and Anita who had very generously offered me lodging for the weekend.  I hadn’t seen Mark in 10 years and it was my first time meeting his wife.  It was great to see them.

After such a long day, it was nice to be able to relax.  Mark, Anita and I went out for a $7.77 prime rib dinner at the Gold Dust West which was surprisingly delicious.  After dinner we met up with some folks at the Brews Brothers brew pub in the Eldorado which was the first “official” event of the weekend.  More old friends were there and I met some new folks who I “knew” from the cigar newsgroup but had never met face to face.  The interesting thing I’ve found when meeting people from this group is that even though you’ve never actually met, having corresponded digitally it’s as if you know them and just haven’t seen them in a while.  In the 13 years I’ve been involved online in the cigar world, I’ve met hundreds of cigar smokers and this is usually the case, almost an instant rapport. After the live music started in the brew pub, we took over some tables and chairs in the Eldorado Sports book and continued catching up and smoking cigars.  Steve finally found us and regaled us with the story of his journey through the pass.  By about 1 AM (4 to my body clock) we called it a night.  I had two or three cigars over the course of the evening,  Camacho Candela and  National Brand robustos amung them.

Saturday morning came and we made our way to the CalNeva sports book, which was the base camp for the weekend.  We had a roped off area with chairs and little tables.  We were given coupons for a free breakfast which several of us partook of – eggs, hash browns, and toast – not bad and the price was right!  It can be quite interesting dining with a retired pathologist, it really can test ones constitution.  We settled in at the sports book and said ‘Hellos’ and made introductions.  Many old friends, and many friends I hadn’t yet met.  I started with a Trinidad Coloniales which was a great way to start the day.    I’m not a big football fan, so the dozens of screens showing various college games were of little interest to me.  There was an ever changing cast of cigar friends coming and going throughout the afternoon: Ben formerly of Japan, Ted and Vicky (aka the Miscs) and others.  I spent the day conversing with everyone.  Many cigars were consumed and many great stories were shared among the crowd.  I am quite content to park in one spot for the afternoon and, to tell the truth, I didn’t come to gamble or sight see.  I came to reconnect with old friends.  I’m very happy when the only decision I have to make is what cigar to smoke next, so this was an ideal situation for me and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk face to face with all these folks.   At 7 PM everyone met at the Prime Rib Grill in the Eldorado for dinner.  Prime rib again, which was just as good as the previous night’s, with  shrimp cocktail, broccoli, and cheesecake for desert.  After dinner Bob (Greene) passed out a ton of goodies from Drew Estate, including Liga Privada No. 9 and T52s, Chateau Reals, Joya de Nicaraguas, and Drew Estate box openers and cutters (really nice cutters too, not your normal cheesy plastic cutters).  There were also some cigars from Rocky Patel and Hatuay cigars circulated.  Many thanks to the sponsors.  I didn’t expect to come home with so many more cigars than I came with, but it’s much appreciated and they will be enjoyed!  After dinnner we returned to our area at the sports book and had more cigars and conversation.  Sometime after midnight we called it a day after much hilarity courtesy of Keith F.  I think I had 5 cigars over the course of the day including a Liga Privada T52 and a No.9.

Some more pictures from the event can be found in the Flickr widget on the right, the Flickr widget on the left side of or at   Watch for the second installment in a couple of days.

until the next time,


Packing for a Cigar Trip

Well, Friday I’m off to Reno for a cigar event.  A bunch of great folks I met through the alt.smokers.cigars usenet group years ago get together every November in Reno to smoke cigars, hang out in the CalNeva sportsbook, smoke cigars, have a few meals, hang out, smoke cigars, etc.  This is the 11th year that Bob Greene has been holding this event, called H.A.R.D, or Herf At Reno Dammit!   I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends I haven’t seen in 9 or 10 years or so.  When we go on these cigar adventures, I think most of us are more concerened with what cigars to pack than what clothes to pack, right?  We have to think of what cigars we want to smoke under what circumstance, and what cigars we want to gift.  So I spent some time packing cigars, as well as a couple articles of clothing and some toiletries.   I know, it’s an illness…

I hope to be able to post a blog entry during the event, so watch this space for an update.   I also hope to get some photos uploaded to Flickr.  Until then, check out this weeks Dogwatch Cigar Radio podcast.  There’s a great interview with our friends Gregg and Tim of the 25 Smokin’ Figurados, a great band with cigar and libation pairings for their songs on their website.   As always, please feel free to leave your comments, I look forward to reading them.

Until the next time,


Liga Privada T52 Cigar Release Party

Jenn and I had the afternoon free so we decided to take a drive to the Drew Estate Liga Privada T52 release party at Wooden Indian Tobacco in Havertown, PA on Saturday. Representing Drew Estate was: Drew Rep Chris McDermott, Regional Manager Mike Staiber and Co-Owner Marvin Samel. I had met Chris a couple years ago at an event at JM Cigars in Exton, PA and saw him again in Vegas at the IPCPR show in July 2008. It’s always a pleasure to see Chris.

Wooden Indian Tobacco is a very well appointed tobacconist located in the Manoa Shopping Center in Havertown, PA. Dave,woodenindian_s the owner, and his staff are a real nice bunch of folks. The turn out was outstanding.  The shop was pretty much packed for the several hours we were there.  I don’t think we’ve ever been to a store event that was so well attended.  There was a line at the register and people outside.   The store has a very good relationship with Drew Estate and do a lot to promote their events.

Drew Estate is well known for the Acid line of cigars, which are the fourth best selling cigars in the ligaprivada_postcardU.S.  I can’t say I care for the Acid line, they are too much like smoking potpourri to me but they are producing some exceptional traditional cigars. I really enjoy the Chateau Real line and the La Vieja Habana is a great value priced cigar. The Liga Privada range was developed for the President of the company, Steve Saka. I smoked a Liga Privada No.9 Parejo (6” x 52) which was an incredibly good, full flavored cigar. I picked up a couple of the No. 9s in a robusto size, as well as the T52 in the same size. These cigars both have beautiful, dark Connecticut broadleaf wrappers.

marvin_craig_sWe enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Marvin Samel quite a bit.  He had some great stories about various celebrity cigar smokers, Jeremy Piven wearing a Drew Estate hat courtside at a Lakers game, a call from a retailer telling him Johnny Depp just bought 4 boxes of cigars for the crew of a movie he was working on and that he had sent Steven Tyler some cigars after finding out he was a  fan.  He also told us about the Drew Estate factory in Nicaragua and the said it was a must visit.

At one point, while I was enjoying my Liga Privada, we noticed that there were quite a few fire trucks in the parking lot.  It seems that one of the shops on the other end of the shopping center had a situation. Marvin sent someone down to tell the fire department personnel to come to the shop when they were done and he’d treat them all to cigars…a very classy act. It seemed like more trucks showed up after the offer was made!  I don’t know that anyone accepted the offer but it was a great gesture anyway.

We hung around to see the raffling off of a cabinet of 48 of the original Liga Privada No. 9 and headed home.  Although I didn’t win any of the door prizes we had a great time.  We were quite satisfied with our visit and I’m looking forward to smoking one of the Liga Privada T52s that I purchased.  If one of these events comes to your local cigar shop, try to attend.

I’ll be packing up for a little trip to Reno nest weekend to smoke cigars!

Until the next time,


P.S.  Every time I go to Havertown I see this road sign and chuckle…


Cigar Reading

In my reading this week I ran across a few items that I thought warranted writing about.

First, the last couple issues of Cigar Aficionado magazine have featured celebrities on the cover who DON’T smoke cigars! Now, CA has not exactly had the reputation of being a down-to-earth cigar magazine, but more of a high end lifestyle magazine with some cigar information. They do have some good articles in the back, and the cigar ratings, while fundamentally flawed, are entertaining. For instance, in the current issue, the highest rated petite corona is the Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro, a box of which I procured to hand out at my daughter’s wedding. Can’t argue with that one, it’s a spectacular cigar that is fairly priced, and is a cigar that can be appreciated by both the novice and the experienced cigar smoker. Back to the point: Catherine Zeta Jones is beautiful and talented, and Hugh Grant is…Hugh Grant, but there are so many interesting celebrities who actually smoke cigars who could grace the cover, why feature those with no mention of cigars? Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick smokes cigars, my wife Jenn gave him a H. Upmann Coronas Junior when she met him this summer. Certainly there are many better choices.

Next on my recommended reading list is the Fujipub e-mail specials mailing list. I know that my weekend isn’t complete without reading Bobby’s rant which precedes the weeks specials. Fujipub was one of the first cigar websites I came across in 1996 when I began this online cigar journey. He usually gives a Seattle weather report and a recap of what he’s been smoking (from the guy who smokes more cigars in a day than most of us smoke in a month).

Of particular note in the current JR Cigars catalog is Lew’s pitch for Acid Cigars. Lew has been writing humorous copy for his catalogs for quite some time, and this particular item pokes fun at our buddy Steve Saka, who used to work for JRs and now is the President of Drew Estates, the maker of Acid cigars.

Finally, if you’ve got some time on your hands, head over to Joe Jackson’s website and download his essay on smoking bans. While not directly cigar-centric, Joe is a huge opponent of smoking bans. Joe is also an accomplished musician :-).


On the cigar front, I smoked an El Baton Robusto which was a wonderfully constructed medium bodied cigar. I had received a coupon for this from J.C Newman some time ago, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have picked one of these up. It is a Nicaraguan, but I couldn’t really put a finger on the flavors. It wasn’t a bad cigar. Also this week I smoked a machine-made H.Upmann Havana, which made for a nice “Take a Cigar for a Walk” cigar.

Until next time,